One Hundred Mornings
At the Glasgow Film Festival this year, when I read the blurb for One Hundred Mornings, I was hoping that this was going to be one that really hit the mark.
As I said, I really wanted to like One Hundred Mornings, and the idea was the first thing that had set me off in the right direction.
Four people are stranded in a holiday cottage in the middle of Ireland's countryside. Some cataclysmic event has occurred and communication and infrastructure has been wiped out. People are living by what they have and what they can forage, clinging to the hope that life will return to normal. The two holidaying couples are slowly coming to terms with what has happened and what awaits them, struggling with their own problems and those of their group, as well as the growing threat from the local villagers, their only neighbour, and the dwindling supplies of food.
It sounded a great set-up, but no matter how much I wanted this film to be great it wasn't. It seemed laden with the apathy of the characters in the film, an apathy which easily came through the screen and was soaked up by the audience. There just wasn't liking these weak characters who weren't interested in helping themselves never mind each other, and seemed happy to sit around and wait for someone else to do something.
I think that was the biggest problem with the film for me, that there was no connection with the characters. I did feel something for Hannah, not just because she's played by the gorgeous and by far the best of the bunch Alex Reid, but because she appears to be the most interesting character and at least does put some effort into things now and again and at one point hints that they might just do something or that there's some bigger purpose.
They don't though and there isn't, and this is a sluggish film of inept inaction that will have you infuriated with the characters who don't seem capable of making any decisions for themselves or thinking further than their own selfish needs. They were very much defeatists as soon as the film began, a feeling of having given up and no proactive thoughts, just reactive, like a group of petulant teenagers.
Prime examples of this are when their food store is discovered, there's not a thought to move everything just in case. Another is the self sufficient neighbour, there's no thought about how to share knowledge and perhaps seeds. Another is the fishing for the group with a single fishing rod, there's no thought of improvising new rods and perhaps more than one of them fishing. There are many more examples of their complete ineptitude and lack of action, even though everything is falling apart around them.
It's something that's reflected in the plot itself where there are gaps and stops that seem unanswered or unexplored, particularly by the characters themselves. When one of the men cycles down to the village at the start of the film he's threatened and turned away at gunpoint yet later the characters are wondering down and back without issue. The villagers take their supplies and later they go to extremes for a few carrots, but suddenly a little bit of bartering and there's chocolate and batteries on offer. Many of these aspects of the story just didn't feel as though they gelled well.
There were some good aspects though, as I said Hannah was an interesting character and I did think things were going to come to life when she made her table speech delivering a big revelation and ultimatum to the others, promising something bigger was set to arrive, something that never came. Through the film her reactions to the others gave for some of the best moments, and her moments of realisation of what was going on around her were well portrayed without words.
A similar moment between two characters where nothing is said is the goodbye over the cup of tea scene. That's really well written, visualised and played out, and it seemed to be one of the moments of class amongst the film, surprisingly not from the lead that I was so drawn to but two others.
It was interesting in the third act of the film to see the relationship come back to life again, that had a lot of attraction and power to it, delivering a few happier and more introspective moments that did actually take you right back to the characters. However the early sexual dynamics to the film were rather confusing with a healthily active sex life being portrayed with one couple and yet she was cheating on him for a base, lifeless, and equally lethargic and defeatist sexual relationship that just didn't seem to compare.
This was one of the many areas left unanswered through the film, from the cars racing by in the middle of the night, to the oil tanker, to the event itself and the brief moment of hope. There seemed to be the possibility of something more going on here and perhaps we would see the characters making the worst decisions of their lives or perhaps find themselves in the middle of the greatest revelation, but we're treated to neither.
Conor Horgan has managed to capture a bleak, helpless and hopeless world in just a small snapshot of the Irish countryside, and that has to be recognised, as does the fact that it does carry a much stronger style and cinematography than you might expect from such a film.
There's a lot to be said for the ability to hold back and show reactions and rely on the actors, pairing back the dialogue and on screen action, and that's another strong point of the film, a film that doesn't delve into the action/adventure and gang territory that you might expect from a post-apocalyptic film and looks to the characters and their relationships, Horgan has done very well for that and at times delivered some very well scripted and visualised moments.
One Hundred Mornings had some interesting aspects to it and some strong moments, more often than not delivered with little or no dialogue, so don't get me wrong, this isn't a completely lost cause of a film there's a fair bit here, unfortunately it comes with a lot than pushed me away from the characters and their story, so much so that I just couldn't get engaged or connected well enough. With the characters making some frustratingly stupid choices, blindly accepting everything from the big event to the smallest of detail without an attempt at investigation, they all seemed too far out of reality for me.
Without a doubt we needed to see some more dynamism in the characters and interest in their own long term survival, a bit more of a look to human nature in these situations, a little hint of the event itself, and a bit more fight from them. However there isn't, and with the strange quirks and bumps in the story it just didn't work as well as hoped.
By far the highlight of the film is Alex Reid as Hannah, the last act relationship, and the shared cup of tea scene, scenes that showed the belief in the actors over dialogue, something that worked very well. The film does show promise for more from those behind the film, for it was well shot and with more from the characters and the script it could have turned out to be a much stronger post-apocalyptic drama.