Sunday, March 03, 2024


Dutch writer-director Sasha Polak's SILVER HAZE a lightly fictionalised depiction of actor Vicky Knight's life story.  As a young child, Franky (Vicky's on-screen avatar) was badly burned in a fire in her uncle's pub, and still holds her father's new wife Jane responsible. This film picks Franky up as a young woman who is filled with anger and resentment.  She lives in a chaotic crowded family home in an economically-deprived part of East London. The threat of verbal or physical violence is always just under the surface and Franky gives as good as she gets.  

The narrative is propelled by Franky's relationship with Florence (Esme Creed-Miles), a privileged but troubled girl who now lives with her grandmother Alice in Southend. It begins as a liberation, allowing Franky to discover she is gay, and allowing her to create a found family with the wonderfully supportive Alice, and Florence's younger brother Jack.

I really admire this film for its delicate balance between laugh-out-loud family banter - genuine menace in a scene of a London bus - and joyous emotional release.  Sacha Polak handles the shifts in tone and mood so beautifully that you emerge from a film that deals with epically profound topics feeling uplifted. I also admire how brave the film is. Not just Vicky Knight having the body confidence to be naked on screen, and to show her unique beauty, but her real-life siblings playing her on-screen family and revisiting a traumatic experience. In a sub-plot, Franky's sister explores converting to Islam, and her need for that is treated with respect but also good humour. That feels brave in the current climate.  Finally, I am grateful to any film that lets me spend time with the charismatic Angela Bruce.  As Alice, she is no pushover, but radiates warmth. A tricky balance to pull off.

Behind the lens, Polak's largely Dutch crew create some memorable visuals of Southend, and a beautiful soundtrack, on what must have been a low budget. It just cheers my soul that unique, brave, entertaining and moving films like this can still be made and released. I really hope it finds the audience it deserves.

SILVER HAZE has a running time of 102 minutes. It played Berlin and London 2023, and will play BFI Flare 2024. It will be released in the UK on March 29th.

No comments:

Post a Comment