Dirs: Joseph Bull, Luke Seomore. UK. 2014. 86mins
An impressively dour and dense new British drama, Blood Cells is a strikingly dark drama given heart and soul thanks to Barry Ward’s suitably intense lead performance as a lost soul adrift from his family and his past trying – in his own way – to find a way home.
Blood Cells is a strikingly haunting film.
Screening as part of the Biennale College at Venice, it is a delve into the bleak underbelly of the UK as people on the fringes of society try to find their way in life and struggle to make good. A tough sell in terms of formal distribution, it is, however, made with a certain low-budget style and in Ward (who starred in Ken Loach’s Jimmy’s Hall) has a charismatic lead who helps make it all the more watchable.
He plays Adam, a man who has lead a listless existence since his family’s farm was devastated by the Foot and Mouth epidemic of 2001, when his life fell apart after a devastating and tragic incident. He left what was left of the farm and since then has led a rootless life wandering the fringes of society, picking up work while he can and consoling himself with drink and fleeting relationships.
When his younger brother Aiden gets in touch to tell him about the birth of his first child he is faced with a dilemma – to return home and embrace the family (and links to his younger life) or to keep wandering and never return home again. He decides to embark on a journey home – passing through towns and lives he has interacted with over the years – and try and break away from his lonely past.
He visits the seaside town of Rhyl and attempts to see former love Lauren (Chloe Pirrie), who is not inclined to have him part of her new life, and heads to Sheffield to see another former lover Hayley (Hayley Squires), who wants him to stay with her, but he cannot adjust to her life as a worker in a sleazy sex club. Still haunted by his memories of what happened on the farm, he finally comes to see that home is the only place to heal his tormented soul.
Blood Cells is a strikingly haunting film, and while the title might sound like a genre film it offers a new voice on the British film landscape and could well be appreciated by other film festivals. It is a stark and often sad film, but one that takes it viewer on a journey through a rarely seen variation on the Great British landscape.
Production company/sales contact: Third Films, email@example.com
Producers: Samm Haillay, Ben Young, Duane Hopkins
Co-producers: Tim Francis, Andrew McVicar
Screenplay: Joseph Bull, Luke Seomore, Ben Young
Cinematography: David Procter
Editor: Darren Baldwin
Production designers: Ben Lack, Samuel Waters
Music: Luke Seomore
Main cast: Barry Ward, Hayley Squires, Jimmy Akingbola, Keith McErlean, Francis McGee, Chloe Pirrie