Film recommendation: The Levelling

A haunting British drama about grief and familial bonds set on a farm in England’s Somerset Levels.

Hope Dickson Leach’s haunting debut follows trainee veterinarian Clover Catto (Ellie Kendrick, Game of Thrones) as she returns to the farm on the Somerset levels where she grew up, summoned for the funeral of her brother Harry. Her gruff father, Aubrey (David Troughton), blithely carries on with business as usual, in denial about the decrepit state of the farm due to the floods, lack of money and the loss of Harry. And in this dark world, neither of them seems able to share their feelings or address their sense of guilt.

The film unfolds with layers of ambiguity and secrets, haunting images and music rooted in this rural life, and the strong feeling of absence – of Harry as well as Clover’s long absence from home. It combines the bleakness of its backdrop with a tender compassion for the troubled humans at its centre, with Kendrick and Troughton giving brilliant performances which reach through the screen.

The Levelling is currently available free in the UK on BBC iplayer.

If you enjoy this film, you might like to seek out some of Hope Dickson Leach’s short films – such as Silly Girl, about a trans man in his 40s (Jason Barker who told his own story in A Deal with the Universe), recalling his first romantic entanglement in his teens, when he was trying to come to terms with his gender.

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