Better Things

‘Better Things’ is Duane Hopkins bleak but brilliant directorial debut set in rural Britain. It tells a series of stories against a backdrop of a countryside that, far from idyllic, has become a wash with drugs, death, intrigue and teenage angst. Shot beautifully any single frame from the first ten minute sequence could be a photograph in an exhibition, as too could certain shots right the way through this movie. Cold and almost bleached out you can really feel the grey and the pain as we get snapshots of peoples lives, people affected by death, drug abuse, isolation, frustration, its not the easiest watch but like last years ‘Hunger’ it deals with dark subject matter and turns it into a thing of random beauty. Hopkins draws from his cast of first timers a sense of the real like we are privy to their lives and watching a documentary of sorts. But it’s in the spaces in-between where the films real strength lie giving the viewer only part of the story and leaving the feverish mind to fill in the gaps. Take for example the old couple, she asks her husband at one point if he will forgive her but you never find out what for, it is probably not as bad as you think it is or maybe its worse. These spaces are like the gaps between verses and choruses in songs, places to let the piece breathe and ultimately they are essential to the overall film. Like peeking through the curtains at the seedy underbelly of Britain ‘Better Things’ wont be to everybody’s taste but anyone who likes a well paced and superbly shot meditation should check it out, a great first film that should see Hopkins move onto bigger and better things.

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