This South Essex landscape is very familiar, as it’s only a handful of miles down the road, so it was fascinating to see it captured on film in all its industrial, run-down unloveliness. The characters portrayed here are all too recognisable, too, as is the poverty (emotional and financial) of their lives.
Katie Jarvis does a believable turn as Mia, isolated from her friends after a teen spat, awaiting a place at a pupil referral unit, yet she’s also dedicated to dancing (alone in an empty flat), impulsive and recklessly brave. She forms a love-hate attraction to her mother’s latest boyfriend, that you just know won’t end well – and a gentle friendship with one of the local travellers, that gives the film its slightly ironic twist of optimism.
Local colour aside, this clearly wasn’t going to be a bundle of laughs and, although the story didn’t quite turn into the misery of abuse that I’d dreaded at one point and there were some lighter moments, it was mostly pretty grim. Nonetheless, it does capture something very recognisable and real about this bleak environment that will suck the life out of those who don’t have the courage or ability to try to escape it.
Great short film on the DVD – Wasp – which is well worth watching too.