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The results of choices we make are often not felt or understood until it comes back to have great effect on our lives. Many films deal with difficult decisions and the impact they will ultimately have. With The Incident, a film that centers on three people whose lives are connected by a series of incidents, the aftermath is less important than the slow menacing build toward it. A quietly disturbing and subdued journey that seeks to challenge audience expectations, it’s an often disjointed yet thoroughly compelling experience that will divide its viewers.
The story is simple. Lily (Tasha Connor) is a wayward, low-level prostitute barely able to sustain herself, who walks the streets in a near homeless state. She runs upon Joe (Tom Hughes), sitting in his car outside a pizza shop, a successful yet unhappy architect. A conversation leads to sex and they eventually part ways. Joe is on his way home to his wife Annabel (Ruta Gedmintas), a beautiful, slender woman who starts the story in a what seems a last ditch effort to spark romance, running through the backyard of their expensive, modern home in her underwear, hoping to lure him to some spontaneous action. Burdened by his guilt though, that action is less than satisfying.
The next day, while about town, Annabel has her own encounter with Lily, at first refusing to give her change when asked for some money, but also seeing her with a man in the public toilets before getting in a stranger’s van and driving away. She follows for a bit, curious and perhaps concerned before veering off. But not long after, while alone in her large, glass house, Lily wanders into the backyard at night, and works her way into the home where another incident occurs.
Written and directed by Jane Linfoot, The Incident wants to be a slow-cooking thriller, a mystery of sorts that pits three characters and a number of exterior plot points into a tight space and build tension. For the most part, it certainly is curious, especially in the opening setups that tease a more dreadful potential than is realized. There is a sense that Linfoot is trying to make a statement, perhaps about class and social attitudes, but whatever that message is, it is mired by its few lapses in logic and undercooked characters. That said, there is something oddly engaging in how it moves forward, even if where it leads might not be where you expect.
Coming off best is Connor as Lily, a curious young woman who is clearly trying her best to make due with a terrible situation. While none of the characters have any well-defined motivations, Lily is the most easy to appreciate, even if we cringe a bit at what she does and how. Gedmintas is good, too, her character keeping a secret throughout that hints at indecision, but Hughes is flat as Joe, a walking stereotype that feels a bit too thin. The real problem are the liberties the script makes in moving the story along, especially with a pivotal sequence where Lily enters Annabel’s house, a bit that seems really unlikely given the situation. It’s a leap for the audience that is hard to make, even if the actors are up to the challenge of convincing us. That extends to a third act revelation that requires Annabel to assume more than she seems able.
There’s nothing wrong with a slow-paced and thoughtful story, one where the audience is tasked with deducing character action and making decisions about meaning, and The Incident has much about it that attempts to elicit that from the viewer. Unfortunately, the film becomes too heavy-handed and awash in metaphor to be completely relatable, even if it has many engaging moments.
Movie description: The Incident is a 2016 drama about the consequences an affluent young couple suffer when they make separate choices about troubled girl who requests something from them each.
Director(s): Jane Linfoot
Actor(s): Ruta Gedmintas, Tom Hughes, Tasha Connor