A convict and ex-drug addict Tony is desperate for a new relationship with his daughter and former partner. We take a look at BFI Film academy director Oisin-Tomas O’Raghallaigh’s 11-minute drama ‘Hindsight.
Inside the prisons of England and Wales, drugs are seized on average almost thirty times a day. Last year the weight of the illegal substances recovered was 225kg while 63% of prisoners said it was easy to get drugs and 22% said their drug problem had begun inside. Over the past 12 months, drugs have been found on 10,474 separate occasions, with hauls of more than 1kg on 26 occasions. As you can see these figures show that there is a huge epidemic of drugs being smuggled into our prison network.
All of these stats have come from new Home Office data, which, as it was only introduced in October 2015, means that there are no year-on-year comparisons. So nobody has any idea how bad this epidemic has been in the past or how quickly it has spread across the country.
Although the government announced new powers to deal with the problems associated with violence is also seen as a key factor in this ongoing prison crisis. Inspectors have been saying for a long time now that in some prisons, inmates are so scared of being physically harmed that they live in fear and stay in their cells 24 hours a day simply because of the violence levels. So drugs and violence in prisons is certainly a subject worth looking at.
Oisin O’Raghallaigh’s new short film ‘Hindsight’ tackles both of these issues head-on and we get a powerful little story about one man’s quest to turn over a new leaf in order to get back with his family.
It is visiting time at one of HM’s Prisons and we are introduced to a bruised and battered convict named Tony (the excellent Samuel James) his partner Nikki (the equally brilliant Lizzie Stanton) has begrudgingly come along bringing their daughter, Tilly to see him. Nikki remains unconvinced that Tony, who has been a drug addict for many years, is willing to change his ways and Stanton’s opening line is blunt and straight to the point.
“So what are you on now?”
Tony has this single visiting hour to change her mind and win back her trust.
Hindsight is an interesting little film. Due to its prison setting, it is quite sparse and small. There is very little camera movement and not a great deal of dynamism. Initially, with its simple setting and cockney accents it did slightly bring to mind Eastenders, but once the film kicks in it becomes much more layered than any soap opera ever could. During Tony’s time with Nicky we see his story told in flashback and by all accounts, he was a horrible person to both Nicky and Tilly - an absent father and abusive partner. These scenes are intercut with his time inside where he is having problems with another inmate, a villainous, cockney wideboy, Chris (played with immense relish by Alex Walton). In these flashbacks, we learn all about Tony’s motives and where his head is currently at. We are left to make our own decision about whether or not Tony has changed his ways.
The script written by Dora Cowper is very good; being reminiscent of Ken Loach’s work. Loach is an obvious influence on Hindsight and Cowper manages to find a number of emotional punches that hit the mark. The image at the end of the film, in particular, is very powerful and raises an emotional smile whilst managing to be equally amusing and shattering at the same time. Whether that idea was from the writer or director, it is without a doubt the strongest part of the film.
Hindsight is a well-made short with a number of great things within it. The actors’ performances are all outstanding, Oisin O’Raghallaigh comes across as a very socially aware director and Dora Cowper provides a top-notch script. With Ken Loach being the only one (at this moment) brave enough to tackle these kinds of subjects and with him being 82 this month, we are in dire need of some new voices who want to stand-up for the victims of society. I hope O’Raghallaigh continues on this path of social justice that hindsight tells me he is made for and I will look forward to seeing what other issues he plans to highlight in the future. I recommend you catch ‘Hindsight’ if you ever get the chance.