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TIFF 2023 Review: The End We Start From

An environmental disaster causes a new mother, her partner and their infant to leave London and seek refuge in the English countryside.

As the amniotic sac breaks for an expecting mother, massive raining causes flooding in London which forces urban residents to flee to rural areas.    The devastation leads to the establishment of shelters protected by soldiers and barbed wire.  People are prepared to trample each other to death to get access to the diminishing food supplies.  In the middle of this chaos are island communes that have separated themselves from the rest of the world.

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There surrealist look to the imagery and plenty of close-ups to create a hyperrealistic sensory experience. The opening bathtub scene gets thematically recreated later on in the ocean including an upside down-shot. The colour palette is desaturated in cool and earthly tones and a shallow focus adds to the abstract nature of what is happening to the world.  Most of the violence happens offscreen as though there are flashes whether it be an aerial shot of the massive crush of people which resembles something out of Dante’s Inferno and a confrontation over a pillow in a shelter.   The water photography is intriguing and visual effects have been utilized to expand the scope of the environmental disaster.

The real star is Jodie Comer who puts on an award-worthy subtle performance that is punctuated by occasional emotional breakdowns that are understandable and believable.  Everything revolves around her and Comer is up to the challenge.  The infant gets a fair amount of screen time which would make the logistics of shooting even more complicated for the production.  Not sure if the flashbacks showing how Comer first met her partner played by Joel Fry completely work but they do reflect a connection to the past that she refuses to cut and serve as a motivator.  This is not a nihilistic tale as it finds hope in those banding together to rebuild despite the overwhelming emotional and physical turmoil.

The 48th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 7-17, 2023, and for more information visit    

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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