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  • Writer's pictureBen Turner

Silver Haze ****

Updated: Mar 26


Starring: Vicky Knight, Esmé Creed-Miles, Charlotte Knight, Angela Bruce 

Director: Sacha Polak

Country: UK

UK Release: BFI Distribution

 

Franky (Knight) is 23, working as a nurse while trying to steady her tumultuous family in East London. When she was a child, she was badly burned in a house fire just as her father was leaving to continue an affair with another woman. As a result, she and her siblings are extremely damaged. When she meets Florence (Creed-Moss), a patient at the hospital admitted for a suicide attempt, she finds herself drawn to this volatile young woman living in care. They embark on a stormy relationship, but because both girls are extremely broken, it seems that this passionate tryst seems doomed to fail right from the start.


Revolving around these two girls’ need to be healed, Florence’s scars might be deep in her psyche, but Franky’s are clear for us all to see. Her burns serve as a constant reminder of the trauma that she went through and the demons she must overcome. She and her sister are fixated on their father, whom they blame entirely for all the problems in their life. But this is not a film about discovering the truth about what happened, but instead following Franky along the difficult road toward real and tangible healing. And wonderful though Florence might be, her deep wounds certainly aren’t conducive to that.


Vicky Knight gives a gloriously nuanced performance as she reinvents herself and embraces this new authenticity. We might watch her suffer, but this is a period of renewal and growth, which is clear both through her demeanour and appearance. An honest and powerful role, Franky is gritty and painfully real. Opposite, Esmé Creed-Moss is a magnetic contradiction, who outwardly appears self-assured but is inwardly barely together at all.


This isn’t a love story. A well-written slice of stark social realism, it has assembled a clutch of fractured characters to explore the consequences of deprivation. There’s something pure about the two girls’ yearning to be healed together, but the cruelty of the hands they have been dealt is overwhelming. And in a glorious supporting turn from Angela Bruce, who plays Florence’s foster mother, the girls are forced to deal with the cancer diagnosis of the one person who has shown them nothing but love.


Its title makes it sound like a heady and ethereal phantasm, when Silver Haze is anything but.  Stark, bleak and painfully true, this is the tragic story of how one broken person cannot heal another.

 

UK Release: 29th March 2024 in cinemas, released by BFI Distribution

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