Pink Wall

 

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The world of two lovers as time goes by.

 


Pink Wall 

Jay Duplass

 

Tom Cullen, the actor who was so impressive in Andrew Haigh’s Weekend (2011), also has a role in Pink Wall, but the film’s significance for him is that it finds him making a remarkably successful debut as writer and director. He has come up with a film which centres on its two chief characters, Americans living in London who become a couple. Their story is spread over six years and, while Pink Wall is evidence that Cullen’s feature film career is likely to extend to more than acting, it is even more of a triumph for its two leading players, Tatiana Maslany and Jay Duplass in the roles of Jenna and Leon. Their relationship moving from instant rapport through some sticky moments to conflicts less easily overcome provides the core of the movie.

 

I have heard it suggested that some of the dialogue was improvised, so it may be that Maslany, Duplass and Cullen share the credit for finding exactly the right details to create one of the most believable screen portrayals ever of the way in which a relationship is likely to undergo change. Certainly both players inhabit their roles so effectively that acting awards would be well deserved. The way in which their behaviour around each other alters over time is brought out all the more tellingly because the story is not told in chronological order. We see them first in ‘Year Four’ and at once witness how their contrasted reactions to a passing observation cause them to argue. But we then see how the disagreement resolves into laughter quickly leading to a making-up in the form of a hug. The fact that this is immediately followed by a sequence without dialogue showing their first meeting at a disco provides a contrast, while the next section (‘Year Five’) indicates that the passing of another year has led to deeper conflicts and made making-up more of an effort.

 

Leon is a photographer, but perhaps one of limited ambition, while Jenna working as a producer is more devoted to her career, both attitudes being revealing of character. Central though these two are, we are also given scenes that find them with friends including a notable portrayal of a dinner party. All of this is highly persuasive and very much of the moment (that includes the frank comments about sex, discussions of open relationships and attitudes regarding the importance or otherwise of having children). The central structure with its rejection of chronological story-telling is not new (one thinks of 2010’s Blue Valentine in that respect), but Pink Wall is distinctively British and interestingly Cullen varies the ratio in which he films using the ‘Scope format only for the later years - not that there is ever any danger of the viewer being unaware of the year in which any scene is set.

 

When reviewing Blue Valentine I suggested that those who were of an age with the protagonists and had shared something of their experiences would be the ones most likely to regard it as a masterpiece. I feel the same about Pink Wall since to be absolutely knocked out by the film you probably need to identify intensely with Jenna and Leon. But, even if you are a more distanced observer, the sense of authenticity is acute: Cullen can be well pleased with his directorial debut and the performances of Maslany and Duplass are of exceptional quality.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Tatiana Maslany, Jay Duplass, Sarah Ovens, Tom Cullen, Nigel Goldsack, Kyle Lima, Katharine Mangold, Joseph Ollman, Ruth Ollman, T.J. Richardson, Sule Rimi.

 

Dir Tom Cullen, Pro Maggie Monteith, Jamie Adams, Richard Elis and Nigel Goldsack, Screenplay Tom Cullen, Ph Bobby Shore, Pro Des Gwyn Eiddior, Ed Gina Hirsch, Music Chris Hyson, Costumes Allie Saunders Edge.

 

Talland Films/Dignity Film Finance-Pinpoint Pictures.
82 mins. UK. 2018. Rel: 13 December 2019. Cert. 15.