What would you do for the people that you love? It’s a question that has been asked and answered throughout history and cinema. For many, their reply is easy: anything. But where do you draw the line? In God’s Creatures, we see the consequences of going too far.
Set in a wee fishing village in Ireland, the story starts with the return of a long-lost son. After a long period of no contact with his family, Brian’s (Paul Mescal) unexpected arrival home is welcomed with open arms by his mother Aileen (Emily Watson). However, a chill runs deep between him and his father Con (Declan Conlon), and for reasons unclear, Brain’s return is shrouded in reluctance and suspicion.
Back with a mission to revive the family oyster farm, Brian gets to work straight away. But times are tough, and some shady deals cause tension in the family. Blinded by her yearning for a relationship with her boy, Aileen overlooks this side of him. And so, when Brian is accused of rape, she doesn’t hesitate to lie about his whereabouts in order to protect him.
But news travels fast in tight-knit communities, and people always pick sides. As the consequences unfold, Aileen’s lie starts to tear herself, her family, and the town apart.
‘Seems like the world has turned upside down.’ – Aileen
‘It’s just as fucked up as it’s ever been, mum. It might look different if you’re the one turning but nothings changed.’ – Erin
It is a little odd at first to see Paul Mescal take on such an unpleasant character, but he does so with ease. He possesses his familiar charisma, this time with a much darker edge, but it’s Aisling Franciosi who stuns as Sarah. She gives an utterly exquisite performance full of subtle yet powerful devastation, and when she sings her voice has an incredible magnetism to it. Emily Watson is similarly captivating and her mother-son chemistry with Mescal ties the film together.
Amongst the releases of Women Talking and She Said – films that deal with sexual assault on a larger scale – God’s Creatures narrower focus could easily be brushed off as a less impactful or less valuable commentary. But, in concentrating on a working-class community in the middle of nowhere, it captures something closer to home.
Abusers like Brian hide in plain sight, protected by friends and family while their victims are ostracized for daring to speak out. More often than not the ‘Brians’ in our life are people we know – our sons, friends, former lovers. The film does well in its unflinching honesty of the treatment of accusations, and it’s a tough watch because of this.
Where the film falters is in its pacing. Slow burns, when done well, can have their audience at the edge of their seats for hours. Even at just over 90 mins, God’s Creatures drags slightly in the middle. This ultimately dilutes some of the tension generated and makes the film feel longer than it is. Nevertheless, it’s worth the watch.
There are still tickets left if you wanna catch God’s Creatures at Glasgow Film Festival on Friday 3rd of March. It will hit UK cinemas on March 31st.