Movie Review: The Little Stranger

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Image Source: IMDB

Written By: Lindsay McKinnon

Distributor: Focus Features Pathé

Production Companies: Potboiler Productions, Element Pictures, Anguille Productions, Canal+, Film4, Ingenious Media, Irish Film Board and Pathé!

Director: Lenny Abrahamson

Producers: Ed Guiney, Gail Egan and Andrea Calderwood

Scriptwriter: Lucinda Coxon (from a novel by Sarah Waters)

Main Cast: Domhnall Gleeson, Ruth Wilson, Will Poulter, Charlotte Rampling and Liv Hill

Released: September 21 2018

Running Time: 111 Minutes

Certificate: 12A

Simultaneously vast and oppressive, you can almost smell the mouldy books and peeling wallpaper of Hundreds Hall, the setting for this evocative film.

Dr. Faraday, played by Domhnall Gleeson (Harry Potter), is the titular Little Stranger of the film. As a small child, he makes a chance visit to the hall and encounters a world he bitterly realises, will never be available to a working-class boy.

Domhnall gives a wonderful performance as the socially repressed doctor who is never allowed to forget his humble beginnings when mingling among the gentry.

Dr. Faraday stepping into the hall through the front door is not only a huge step for the son of a housemaid, it’s also a metaphor for the modern world encroaching on the previously impenetrable aristocracy, now broken by WWII.

Ruth Wilson, (Luther, The Affair), gives her usual subtle, deeply woven performance as Caroline, the intelligent, ambitious daughter of the house who eschews her independence to care for her physically and emotionally battle-scarred older brother (Will Poulter). Charmingly awkward, she is destined to become the classic eccentric old lady with sturdy brogues and tweed skirts.

The halting romance that begins between Faraday and Caroline is sadly doomed as Faraday is less in love with Caroline as he is with a desire to join the upper classes and claim Hundreds Hall as his home. For Caroline, Faraday offers a means to escape the death and decay of the crumbling house and live a bright and exciting life in London, where Faraday has been offered a post.

The ghost of the younger sibling, Suki, haunts the hall and the mind of their mother, Mrs Ayres, played by Charlotte Rampling, who delivers a superb portrayal of the lady of the manor. Terribly caring with Betty the maidservant (Liv Hill), she is equally gracious with Dr Faraday, until he makes the mistake of forgetting his place.

Lenny Abrahamson (Room) has a talent for conveying an oppressive sense of foreboding, leaving you with a vaguely unsettled feeling that lasts way beyond the end of the credits.

The Little Stranger is a rare find, as it recalls the measured films of the 30s and 40s that relied on a solid script, confidence in the actors and a willingness by the audience to be led down the dark passages of the mind to some truly hair-raising moments.

Well worth a watch.

Overall Rating: 8.5/10 – Excellent