Second Coming

 

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BAFTA nominee Debbie Tucker Green already known for her work in the theatre and for radio makes her debut feature and proves that she is a born filmmaker.


I have to say that I approached this piece with low expectations. I knew that it would tell a contemporary tale set in South London, one that would have at its centre the notion that a wife and mother would find that she was due to give birth to another child, but this time in circumstances that would echo the situation of Mary in the bible. To posit the idea of an impending birth brought about neither by the woman’s husband nor, whatever he might come to believe, by some other human agency was a very odd notion indeed. Nor did I feel that it was a promising one, but I was wrong.

 

Second Coming

Pregnant pauses: Kai Francis-Lewis and Nadine Marshall

 

Despite her background in theatre, this first feature reveals Debbie Tucker Green as a natural in cinema. Although the drama here is intimate, she wholly justifies the use of the ’Scope format and has Ula Pontikos from Weekend and Lilting as her superb photographer. She has also given obvious thought to the use of music yet knows when to eschew it altogether, while the editing suggests a close partnership with her editor Mark Eckersley. Nor do great performances just happen, least of all from a young newcomer like Kai Francis-Lewis who plays the couple’s 11-year-old son. Furthermore, although Idris Elba who appears as the husband is well established, the central focus here is on the pregnant Jackie and in this role Nadine Marshall is absolutely remarkable.

 

The first half of Second Coming gives us a wholly convincing portrait of a happy family: the lively surface, made such by the adroit camera movement and by the editing, ensures that the film’s everyday quality is never dull and it is pleasing to find a film with black actors in which their skin colour is irrelevant. The second half embraces Jackie’s unease as she draws more and more into herself through being unable to explain her situation believably: the film aptly and skilfully becomes slower and more minimalistic. On the other hand, a few stylised intercuts shots don’t seem to fit well and the conclusion is open to different interpretations, a fact that is arguably less than ideal. Second Coming could be seen as tribute to the Virgin Mary’s acceptance of her role and, with nature seeming  to give its blessing in a coda, the film may be even more religious than that. Yet it could also be regarded as a film celebrating the miracle that is human birth in any form at all. What is certain is that Debbie Tucker Green’s work here is extraordinary girls.  

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Nadine Marshall, Idris Elba, Kai Francis-Lewis, Sharlene Whyte.

 
Dir Debbie Tucker Green, Pro Polly Leys and Kate Norrish, Screenplay Debbie Tucker Green, Ph Ula Pontikos, Pro Des Lisa Marie Hall, Ed Mark Eckersley, Music Luke Sutherland, Costumes Edward K. Gibbon.

 
Film4/BFI/a Hillbilly Films production etc.-Kaleidoscope Film Distribution.
105 mins. UK/USA. 2014. Rel: 5 June 2015. Cert. 15.