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ExileReview - Exile
DVD
by John Alexander (Director)
BFS Entertainment, 2012
Review by Christian Perring
Sep 3rd 2013 (Volume 17, Issue 36)

Exile is an unusual mystery since it is about uncovering the past, and the main obstacle to finding the truth is Alzheimer's disease.  John Simm plays Tom, a London journalist whose life has come to complete crisis.  He has lost his job and his girlfriend, and his only option is to move back in with his father and sister.  He returns to the northern town of his youth to find that his father has dementia.  His sister Nancy, who has been living at home her whole life, stopped telling Tom about what was going on with his father because he had stopped showing any interest.  The first half of this three hour UK 2011 drama is particularly good at showing the tensions between Nancy, Tom and their father.  Jim Broadbent does a great job in portraying a man who still has some of his former personality but who can still be shocked to hear that his wife is dead, even though he careful for her many years ago as she was dying.  Both the acting and the writing are excellent. 

The mystery side of the drama isn't quite as gripping.  Tom Is trying to work out why his father was so angry in earlier years, leading eventually to a beating when he found Tom snooping around his home office.  Tom suspects that his father, who had been in journalism too, discovered something that got him into trouble.  It turns out that Tom is right, and he has to root through the local political scene and find old employees at the newspaper where his father used to work.  The plot is well constructed and the truth turns out to be appropriately dark.  There is also a subplot of Tom's involvement with another woman which is a little silly but makes Tom a more rounded character.   Olivia Colman plays Tom's sister Nancy, and she is a very appealing character--wry, funny, and honest, and it would have been good to have her play a more prominent role in the story.  The real strength of Exile is in its focus on how families are affected by Alzheimer's and the importance of uncovering the past.  At one point, Nancy tells Tom that it is pointless to dig up what has been covered up, but Tom's persistence shows how learning the truth of what happened is essential to moving on with life.

 

© 2013 Christian Perring

 

Christian Perring, Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College, New York


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