Film Review: The Ones Below


Writer-director David Farr’s The Ones Below is a formulaic but entertaining thriller.

Kate and Justin are excited to be expecting their first child. They are intrigued when a new couple moves into the flat below theirs, especially when they find out that their new neighbours are also expecting a baby…

The Ones Below functions well as a untaxing potboiler. There are a number of holes in the film when examined, but it never bores. The Ones Below takes cues from other films in the same vein. Whilst the general direction the film is taking is clear, the exact outcome is more difficult to predict.

Kate and Justin are depicted as a normal couple in the film. There are elements that give them a little personality; Kate’s relationship with her mother, for example, points at an uneasiness which is exploited later in the film. The Ones Below portrays a regular situation which transforms into something unnerving.

Dialogue in the film functions to move the plot along effectively. Pacing in The Ones Below is good. The film begins as a drama, becoming a thriller as it progresses. In typical psychological thriller fashion, Kate state of mind is questioned by both the audience and characters in the film. With a beginning that explores the main characters in sufficient depth, tension is ramped up in the final third of the film. Some of the situations that occur stretch the boundaries of belief, yet this feels in keeping with the style of the film. The Ones Below is not a subtle film.

David Morrissey is well cast as neighbour Jon. He brings a menace to the role which works well in the film. Clémence Poésy gives a decent performance as protagonist Kate, whilst Laura Birn convinces as Teresa.

The Ones Below is a perfectly watchable movie. It is not particularly creative, but it entertains nevertheless.

The Ones Below is being screened at London Film Festival in October 2015.

Film Review: Hanna

Hanna is a gem of a movie. Those who question whether the premise of a child assassin can be fun really need to see this film.

Sixteen-year-old Hanna lives with her father Erik in a very remote part of Finland. Former CIA agent Erik has raised his daughter like a soldier; training and teaching her everyday until she is ready to embark on her mission. Hanna must travel through a world she has never known, while being tailed by agents on a mission to capture her…

Hanna is an enjoyable film precisely because it does not take itself too seriously. The film begins sombre enough, yet finds amusement after the first section, which is carried through the rest of the duration. It is precisely the sort of attitude that absurdist thrillers should be produced with; Salt and others should take note. Hanna could have very easily taken a more serious route, but thankfully director Joe Wright does not attempt to elevate the film above its station as a fun action thriller.

The action sequences work well. The pacing in Hanna is also great, the film never seems to let up. Even in the less frantic scenes, there is an underlying current of suspense. Screenwriters Seth Lochhead and David Farr have done an admirable job in maintaining in aura of mystery about Hanna’s origins for much of the duration.

The editing and sound is too much of an onslaught during the escape sequence.  Thankfully this bombardment is only employed once; the other action sequences are less migraine-inducing. This aside, the film is well executed. The Chemical Brothers soundtrack complement the visuals exceptionally well, helping to propel momentum in key sequences.

Saoirse Ronan is excellent as Hanna. The young actress has already displayed promise in The Lovely Bones and The Way Back; Hanna takes Ronan another step closer to becoming one of the best young actresses of the moment. Cate Blanchett is a worthy adversary in the form of Marissa. The actress conveys the steely ruthlessness of the character. Eric Bana is suitably mysterious as his namesake Erik, while evil comes under the innocuous guise of Isaacs, played by Tom Hollander. All of the cast appear to be having fun with their respective roles, which shines through overall.

Hanna is a thoroughly enjoyable film that provides a benchmark which action thrillers should aim for. Few are likely to be left disappointed by Joe Wright’s offering.