A man lies dead his throat slit and Detective Eve Fischer is determined to solve the case. To do so she must first navigate her way between two cunning and devious suspects and also, as she delves even deeper, she begins to ask questions regarding her own sanity.
Psychological thrillers are a hard genre to get right, for every ‘Silence Of The Lambs’ there are a hundred ‘Color Of Night’s’. For the most part, it has to do with the writing, because in order to get the answers to the questions posed by the plot, any number of clichés and coincidences are used to point our protagonist in the right direction and reach the conclusion.
There is, of course, the famous quote from pulp crime author Raymond Chandler “When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun.” So even the greatest writers can’t totally avoid them and although there are a few clichés to be found within writer/director Alistair Railton’s new psychological short film ‘Beyond The Divide’ it manages to be interesting enough that attention is diverted away from its limitations and towards it’s more successful aspects.
A murder has taken place in a London flat where a man has had his throat slit and it’s now up to Detective Eve Fischer (Francesca Louse White) to get to the bottom of things and solve the case. She already has two suspects in custody, the meek, mild and troubled Harriet (Rayanna Dibs) and the posh, charismatic, ‘Nameless’ (Mark Wisdom). Both of them seem very guilty and each has their own unique way of getting inside Fischer’s mind and pushing all the right buttons.
White is excellent as Fischer, she reminded me of a young Frances McDormand; managing to convey a huge array of emotion, flipping from tough to emotional at the drop of a hat. Dibs is also good as Harriet, a disturbed and lonely lady finding herself in deep trouble, while Wisdom as the more showy character ‘Nameless’ is equally arrogant and devious. Tom Hiddlestone’s Loki is very much apparent in Wisdom’s wickedly delicious performance. Director Railton also pops up, playing a supporting role in the short and he too is very good.
The premise of ‘Between the Divide‘ consists of Fischer talking to each suspect in a number of interrogation scenes as she begins to collect the evidence and approach the truth. This means there is a lot of exposition that needs to be listened to, however, this is made difficult at times by some poor sound issues, although they are few and far between. There is also, due to the locations, not a great deal of variety in the shots used; each scene in the film is either a two-shot, a close-up or a mid shot and although it’s understandable due to the type of budget the film has, it’s running time of 41 minutes can make it seem like the film lacks pace and energy at times and perhaps a bit more ruthlessness in the editing suite would have helped immensely.
However, these are only minor criticisms that I mention, mainly because as a fan of the BBC’s ‘Line Of Duty’ I could tell it was a definite influence on ‘Between The Divide’, especially in creating interrogation scenes that are both thrilling and exciting. Of course, it is unfair to compare Railton’s good little short film to a BAFTA-winning BBC production, but if you are framing your film around interrogation scenes then, unfortunately, Line of Duty is definitely the new benchmark.
The director of photography, Adam Hudson, does well with what he has to work with and there is a constant and ominous sense of threat over the entire film, that is enhanced brilliantly by music from composers Kevin Macleod and Doug Maxwell. All in all, ‘Between The Divide’ is an interesting and well-written piece and in the current climate deserves extra credit for having a strong female protagonist in a leading role.
Railton has written and directed a very interesting film that shows some flashes of brilliance and even throws up a few questions about mental health.