Inland (2022)

June 12th, 2023
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir.: Fridtjof Ryder; Cast: Rory Alexander, Mark Rylance, Katherine Hunter, Eleanor Holiday, Shaun Dingwall, Neil Williams; UK 2022, 82 min.

Fridtjof Ryder makes a striking but saturnine first feature, borrowing heavily from Nicolas Roeg and David Lynch, as implied by the film’s title. Ryder wrote the script before he was twenty, but filming was delayed for several years due to the pandemic.

Essentially a two hander, the film follows a young man (Alexander) whose disturbed mental state lies at the heart of the narrative and will dictate the course of his life even after longterm psychiatric treatment. One relationship in particular looms large; with garage owner Dunleavy (a saturnine Mark Rylance) who offers him board and employment in the West Country city of Gloucester (the director’s hometown). The two will circle each other like fish in an aquarium: the implications are not promising, but their interaction is never really explored. This young man has obvious lived through abandonment issues and has difficulty integrating, a flyer shows the photo of his mother, who has gone missing.

Donleavy remains the only fully fleshed out character here but his relationship with his employee is never developed beyond the surface. Alexander’s young man remains enigmatic, ephemeral even, never emerging as someone substantial. There are nods to his mother’s Romani background – but Inland asks more questions than it answers.

DoP Ravi Doubleday lets the camera roam in the dark woods and poorly-lit streets of Gloucester in a pervasive atmosphere of gloom. Dunleavy’s little house looks lost in the dark forest. Rylance tries hard to fill out his character, but struggles with the avoidance of anything factual. Alexander walks in a landscape he is supposed to know, but childhood and present always mingle, giving him no foothold in reality. AS




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