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  Lynn + Lucy Kill Your Friends
Year: 2019
Director: Fyzal Boulifa
Stars: Nichola Burley, Roxanne Scrimshaw, Shaq B. Grant, Kacey Ainsworth, Jennifer Lee Moon, Tia Nelson, Ashleigh Bannister, Samson Cox-Vinell, Jack Shalloo, Christopher Patrick Nolan, Leslie Duke, Tim Berrington, Jordan Long, Tracie Long, Chloe Reid
Genre: DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: Lynn (Roxanne Scrimshaw) is a stay at home mum, and has been ever since she gave birth to her daughter ten years ago, a teenage pregnancy that she refuses to believe has held her back as she embraced the role of mother and wife. Her best friend since school is Lucy (Nichola Burley), who is her more exuberant, less inhibited pal she feels completely comfortable with, they have been so close that now Lucy is a new mother herself, and Lynn becomes the baby's godparent, they should by all rights be closer than ever. But Lucy's partner is the younger, more immature Clark (Samson Cox-Vinell), and Lynn wonders at their relationship - could it go wrong?

Has it already gone wrong? After the Christening the couple seem to keep breaking out into arguments where Lynn finds herself lapsing into the parental role that has been her entire adult life, looking after the infant and indeed her friend, who needs entertainment and escape from the family she does not appear to be too comfortable with. What happens next may be predictable, but it occurs so quickly in the plot that it is really only in hindsight that you cannot see any other way it could have played out; suffice to say a tragedy is inflicted on Lucy that deeply affects Lynn, though that turns out not to be in the manner the audience might be anticipating.

That audience was asked to consider a lot, not least how we would react if one of our best mates was the victim of society, to put it broadly: we would like to think we would act nobly and look after the afflicted, but the truth is when the mob gangs up, you are far more likely to side with the mob, if only for a quiet life. And when the results are too awful to bear, you have to live with those terrible consequences for the rest of your days, as this was truly a punishing watch that sought to teach a lesson by showing off the worst that could happen and forcing you watching to put yourself in Lynn's place, an utterly unremarkable person in what might end up inflicted on any one of us.

Any one of us who fate conspires against, that is, as Lucy finds everyone deserting her and even actively attacking her and plotting for her downfall, all because of gossip that gets out of control in a mass pile-on of a tight knit community she maybe was never really as much a part of as she should have been, or was allowed to be. Writer and director Fyzal Boulifa, graduating from short films to a full feature, was not about to pull any punches, meaning this work was almost impossible to watch at times when you could see the dreadful decisions being made, but were as powerless as Lynn, our focal point, to stop them as she initially tries damage limitation, then worse.

Even when she believes she is co-ordinating events, she is being buffeted along by the need to fit in with the majority, and guess what? That majority is dead wrong, horrendously. Lynn's daughter gets in on the act too, proving that some people will concoct all sorts of stories to conform, the matter of her being a little girl not excusing her behaviour since all the characters except Lucy are acting as if they were still at school, ostracising the outcast and behaving as if the school bully was the best method of going through adulthood. The child is the father of the man, we see, and also the mother of the woman, for the clique Lynn falls in with at the beauty salon of Janelle (scene-stealing Jennifer Lee Moon) are people she wants to please as much as any peer group when she was a teen.

Here we can see what they would all have been like at that age: even the older Caroline (Kacey Ainsworth on disturbing form) who has lost her son to a drunk driver has had her tragedy twist her inside, questioning our sympathies. The acting all round was superb, but the interplay between Burley and newcomer Scrimshaw was what broke the heart: the title characters were so strong together, but they are driven apart by needless hatred. A barrel of laughs this was not, and relayed an important theme, but it was perversely difficult to enjoy, you just appreciated as the mistakes piled up. Scrimshaw's sympathetic face allowed her character to get away with a lot; we can perceive Lynn is not savvy enough to follow her instincts that Lucy deserves better, and when she turns away the word for it is "brutal". There was no denying how superbly this was crafted, though how often you would want to put yourself through it was another matter: that it was based on a true story is simultaneously shocking and sadly unsurprising. Also featuring the most aggressive cigarette smoking ever seen on film.

[Lynn + Lucy is released on Blu-ray by The BFI with the following features:

Fyzal Boulifa Talks to Danny Leigh (2020, 40 mins): the director of Lynn + Lucy is interviewed by film critic Danny Leigh
Nichola Burley Talks to Nia Childs (2020, 18 mins): Nichola Burley talks to curator and filmmaker Nia Childs about her approach to acting, delving into the psychology of Lucy and how she tackled the difficult issues of Lynn + Lucy
Roxanne Scrimshaw Talks to Nia Childs (2020, 16 mins): Roxanne Scrimshaw chats to Nia Childs about being street cast for Lynn + Lucy and how she found her first experience of acting (Roxanne also needs to change the battery in her smoke alarm)
Roxanne Scrimshaw casting interview (2018, 7 mins): Roxanne Scrimshaw's first conversation with casting director Lara Manwaring
Roxanne Scrimshaw and Nichola Burley callback audition (2018, 14 mins): Roxanne Scrimshaw and Nichola Burley attend callback auditions together for the first time
The Curse (2012, 13 mins): Fyzal Boulifa's 2012 Cannes-winning and BAFTA-nominated short is an allegory of emancipation inspired by his mother's experience growing up in Morocco
New Towns in Britain (1956, 14 mins): this 1956 documentary commissioned by the Foreign Office for US audiences reports on the planning and development of Harlow New Town, the location of Lynn + Lucy
Image gallery
Trailer.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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