A persuasive London tale touching on social concerns and moral issues.


Marlene Sidaway, Martin Herdman and Ian Hogg


With this release coming so closely on the heels of Two for Joy we have two British first features that positively invite comparison with each other. Each one is the work of a writer/director who has been uncompromising in bringing to the screen a story that he felt compelled to tell even if its commercial appeal could be doubted. In the case of Sink, that man is Mark Gillis who, being an actor too, takes a role in his own film. But the lead player here is Martin Herdman. He plays a middle-aged working class Londoner living in Deptford, Micky Mason. For years he has been a manual worker with a steady job but a need to cut down on staff puts him out of work and this at a time when his elderly father, Sam (Ian Hogg), loses his place in a residential care home and therefore needs to be looked after by his son who lives alone in a studio flat.


The early stages of Sink echo the realism found in films by Ken Loach although, when Micky goes to a Job Centre, he finds there a woman more helpful than Loach might have chosen to portray. Even so, he has no luck in finding new work and becomes increasingly desperate. It seems ironic that Micky's childhood friend Paul (Gillis's role) should be thriving when Micky is not: that's because Micky is a man of principle whereas Paul is a criminal who employs couriers to smuggle drugs in from France. Micky benefits from having a friendly neighbour, Jean (Marlene Sidaway), and is hopeful of establishing a relationship with an acquaintance named Lorraine (Tracey Wilkinson), but his situation deteriorates to the point at which to bring in money he is prepared to act out of character and do a job for Paul.


Sink invites us to sympathise with Micky and there is considerable tension as we wait to see whether or not he will be found out when acting as a courier. Nevertheless, the film is self-evidently a portrait of an individual's loss of integrity consequent on social pressures and, as such, this is, like Tom Beard's Two for Joy, a downbeat tale. The acting in Sink is uniformly strong yet not as exceptional as that to be found in Two for Joy. But, where Beard's film suffers from a lack of forward momentum, the storytelling here is much more compelling and the downbeat element is offset by a striking use of music performed by Oliver Hoare and the Late Great, including some bright ironic songs among them the folk tune 'Rings of Time' with its refrain that proclaims "Honesty's all out of fashion". But, if Beard is at times almost too glumly realistic, Gillis errs in the opposite direction when it comes to scenes in the middle of his film that feature a gun. At this point naturalism gives way to what feels like emotional manipulation of the audience due to the self-conscious attempt to build-up tension. Ultimately, then, both of these debut features are not without flaws but both have much to commend them too. Sink may fall short of being a triumph, but Gillis's first feature is much closer to success than to failure and well worth investigating.




Cast: Martin Herdman, Ian Hogg, Marlene Sidaway, Tracey Wilkinson, Joshua Herdman, Mark Gillis, Sadie Shimmin, Joanna Monro, Robert Calvert, Bradley Hall, Ken Shorter, Anne Bird, Niall McNamee.


Dir Mark Gillis, Pro Mark Gillis, Assoc Pro Mark Rylance and Alan Rickman, Screenplay Mark Gillis, Ph Simon Archer, Pro Des Lucy Cooper, Ed Jonathan Beer, Chris Blunden, Mark Game, Agnieszka Liggett, Miguel E. Rebagliato and Carl Rohumaa, Music Mallik Gris; songs performed by Oliver Hoare and The Late Great.


Moonstone Films/BBD Productions-Verve Pictures.
87 mins. UK. 2018. Rel: 12 October 2018. Cert. 15.