In a windswept fishing village, a mother is torn between protecting her beloved son and her own sense of right and wrong. A lie she tells for him rips apart their family and close-knit community in this tense, sweepingly emotional epic.
Set in a small fishing village on the coast of Ireland, ‘God’s Creatures’ is an atmospheric psychological drama about a mother who is forced to make a difficult decision when her son is accused of a crime. It stars Emily Watson as Aileen, and Paul Mescal (fresh off his Oscar nomination for ‘Aftersun’) as her son Brian, who has just returned from Australia in mysterious circumstances that are left unexplained, and it’s clear that Aileen has conflicted feelings about her sons return even before he is accused of sexual assault by Sarah (Aisling Franciosi) a local girl who works at the same seafood production factory as Aileen.
‘God’s Creatures’ takes place in a small tightknit community where everybody knows everybody and where 90% of the residents work in the fishing industry to one degree or another. The film begins with the death of a young man at sea, the son of one of Aileen’s (Emily Watson) work colleagues, and that sets the tone for a film that will explore the relationship and close bonds between a mother and a son. After the initial setup we reach the key moment, when Aileen is asked if Brian was at home on the night of the assault, putting Aileen in a difficult position, caught between a decision that could either tear her family apart or reverberate around the small community and impact on a potential victim in Sarah. Her natural reaction is to defend, but it eats away at her as she starts to slowly realise that he probably was guilty of that which he was accused of.
The biggest strength of ‘God’s Creatures’ comes in the brilliant performances from both Emily Watson and Paul Mescal, with Watson in particular producing some of her finest work in a difficult role – it’s testament to her subtle and nuanced performance that you empathised with her situation despite the implications of her decision to lie on behalf of Brian. I felt the movie overall had a simmering tension that drew you in, but I don’t think it quite reach the next level as it moved towards a climax that didn’t work as well for me as intended. That being said, this is a fine, grounded piece of filmmaking from Saela Davis and Anna Rose Holmer that thoughtfully explores a challenging subject, with a couple of outstanding central performances.
Directed By: Saela Davis and Anna Rose Holmer
Starring: Emily Watson, Paul Mescal, Aisling Franciosi, Declan Conlon, Toni O’Rourke, Marion O’Dwyer, Brendan McCormack, Lalor Roddy and Isabelle Connolly