By midlandsmovies, Jul 16 2018 10:19AM
Directed by Daryl Grizzle
A Grizzle and Steele Film
We open on a regular street as a lady leaves her suburban house to stretch before going for a run but there’s nothing regular about this new film from West Midlands director Daryl Grizzle.
As we track her in the park jogging, seemingly enjoying a pastime passion, the film uses narration to explain to the audience how difficult life is living with a mental illness.
Having previously created short film Bless You, which we saw at Leicester’s Short Cinema festival in 2017, the director here provides a portrait of a dark personal journey. With sequences of narration delivered direct to camera in small interview-style segments the film doesn’t sugar-coat the awful aftermaths of actions like self-harm and explores the difficulties of living with depression and its stigma in today’s society.
The film stars Jade Samuels as the protagonist who, as is explained in a coda at the film’s end, is actually performing a recreation of a real interview conducted in 2017. An interesting concept for sure but for me I would have preferred for this context to be given at the start of the film in order for the real truths to hit home from the beginning.
Our protagonist’s testimony continues as the tragic consequences of deep cuts that require stitches, and sometimes even surgery, are explained and delivered by Samuels in an honest portrayal throughout.
A bit more creative flair would set the film apart from the crowd as although the technical elements were first class - especially the park-based tracking shots, the serious themes were slightly undermined with a standard mix of handheld camera work in her house and some VERY long shots which pushed away from the much-needed intimacy.
However, the few minor flaws don’t distract from the story as a whole and we are told how she joins an athletics club before acts of divorcing parents and changing schools became a trigger during a difficult period.
Add to this peer pressure, bullying and name calling and we discover she gives up her hobby which is recounted as the thing that made her most happy. With some solitary bathroom shots there was also a small echo of recent local film HIM (click here) which covers similar subject matter and is worth seeking out as well.
The film is good at leaving some threads open to interpretation however and questions how these childhood events shape and sometimes control us.
And with the disease of depression becoming more fully understood by society as a whole, it is admirable that this film shines a light on a real victim and the very truthful troubles they have been through.
More of a monologue than a full exploration, Dark Days does hold on to the thought that although a positive outlook will not cure the struggles faced by sufferers, there is light at the end of this dark tunnel. Leaving the audience then with a message that sufferer’s journeys will be a marathon and not a sprint, it successfully focuses on how understanding and awareness will help guide people’s efforts in the right direction.
Midlands Movies Mike