Look Behind You

Stars: Emily Mortimer, Robyn Nevin, and Bella Heathcote
Director: Natalie Erika James
Scriptwriters: Natalie Erika James and Christian White
Composer: Brian Reitzell
Cinematography: Charlie Sarroff
Screen Australia/IFC Midnight
Rating: PG 13
Running Length: 90 Minutes 

Director/writer Natalie Erika James has come up with a film about losing one’s memory. It can be called “dementia” and that is a medical term where bits of one’s memory is slowly lost through the years, and sometimes this can run in families. Or, as in “Relic,” there is something else going on. Exploring this second theme, is the plot of the film, which is harrowing in concept. There are three main actors in “Relic,” Robyn Nevin as the mother, Emily Mortimer as her daughter, and Bella Heathcote as the grand-daughter. Family inheritance can have many meanings. 

The movie begins with a tub of water that overflows in a house. Living there is an elderly woman named Edna (Robyn Nevin) who seems oblivious to what is happening. Go forward a year or so, and someone has called Edna’s daughter, Kay (Emily Mortimer) to check on Mom  (Edna.)  As Kay travels there, she brings along her daughter, Sam (Bella Heathcote). The house is in disarray and seems to be falling apart. Inside, is a mess with mold, plus little notes in the oddest places. It looks as though Edna is sliding into dementia, but, where is she? Enter the police and a search, but no Edna.  The next day she is back with no memory of what happened.  The authorities say someone should be with Edna, so Kay stays and looks into care facilities. In the meantime, Kay and Sam talk about family history of the property and buildings, and Sam bonds with Edna. Neighbors are afraid to help, and what are they afraid of? Edna keeps trying to hide personal items, but from who? Exploring the house will raise the audience fright level up a few notches and from here on, grab on to an armrest. Home ownership is not what it used to be. 

The three actors do well together and you can believe them as a family.  Robyn Nevin portrays a woman frightened of losing her mind and this is given new meaning. Her facial expressions tell  all.  Emily Mortimer as the daughter trying to help her mother, shows frustration, indecision and care.  As the grand-daughter, Bella Heathcote has to stand back and take it all in. Her grandmother and mother are together in whatever is happening, and what part does the grand-daughter have? Heathcote shows the youth side of this triangle well. 

Having a loved one slide into a mental illness is always emotional for the family, especially for those close to that person. The loved one sees or hears things no one else can and this is from a troubled mind.  In “Relic,” mental illness is given new meaning and within this meaning, draws a parallel to what is normally called “dementia.” A different idea from the script by Natalie Erika-James and Christian White. Makes you look out at your own family and wonder, “what if?” 

Available in Limited Release or on demand. 


Copyright 2020 Marie Asner