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With: Eleanor Worthington Cox, Maxine Peake, Richard Harrington, Mark Lewis Jones, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith
Written by: William McGregor
Directed by: William McGregor
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 84
Date: 08/16/2019

Gwen (2019)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

More Farm Than Good

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

William McGregor's Gwen has been described as something of a horror film (and will be heading to the great horror streaming service Shudder), but I'd call it something more along the lines of a "misery" film. Horror films tickle dormant senses and make you feel tingly and alive, while misery films... don't. In Gwen, it's the 19th century, and a woman (Maxine Peake, also in this year's equally depressing Peterloo) lives with her two daughters on a poor farm, the husband/father presumably off at war. Everything goes wrong. When their sheep all suddenly turn up dead, I thought maybe there was a specter or a demon or something at work, but no. It's just misery, bad luck, and despair. Otherwise, we get burned meals, dying crops, cholera, mysterious illnesses, dwindling finances, and menacing businessmen looking to buy the land and evict the tenants. I'm sure some folks will get something out of it — it is well-made and atmospheric, and young Eleanor Worthington Cox in the title role has a striking screen presence — but I find I have very little patience for looking at the misfortune of others, without any seeming point.

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