Based off of the novel by Megan Hunter, THE END WE START FROM is another movie I have been anxiously awaiting and following since its production phase. As a huge fan of Jodie Comer’s work, I knew to anticipate a tour de force in acting but nothing could have prepared me for her turn in this film. A gut-wrenching and emotional triumph, I was most moved by the film’s focus on the strength and resilience of women in times of crisis.
This movie is made for all audiences, but I think it is particularly going to resonate with women who will see themselves and their own female experience in the woman’s journey and relationships with those around her. We may not have experienced an apocalypse, but we have faced emotional hardship, having to be strong for those around us when we may not feel like we have much left, and it is through these times of turmoil that we have learned the most about ourselves. More than that, I love that this film has such a distinctly female voice, both behind and in front of the camera. Directed by Mahalia Belo, written by Alice Birch, with cinematographer Suzie Lavelle behind the camera, and a host of female producers (including Jodie Comer herself), it is projects like this that we need to see more of in Hollywood.
New mother (Jodie Comer), her baby Zeb, and partner (Joel Fry) are forced to evacuate their home in London after floods threaten everyone in the lower lying areas of the UK. The family is able to seek refuge at his parents’ home, but unfortunately the situation becomes even more dangerous as time goes on. With food becoming scarce and the security situation falling apart, the family is forced to find help at a local shelter. But can they trust the people there? Is this too good to be true?
Unlike apocalyptic stories like THE WALKING DEAD, it was especially refreshing that in this story there is a lot of hope and a faith in humanity. Of course the film has stakes and shows the incredible dangers of a society falling apart. But even in the darkest moments, there is a belief weaved throughout that things will get better and not all people are bad. I found myself constantly judging the mother for being so trusting with strangers, but the film consistently rejects the stranger danger trope, which is a twist in the genre itself.
I love that more than anything THE END WE START FROM showcases Comer’s incredible range, perfectly balancing heartwrenching emotion, humor, and anxiety. In one scene she is scream-singing “I’ve Had The Time Of My Life” at the top of her lungs and in another stripped bare in the ocean, screaming to the heavens about the dire circumstances she has found herself in. She is literally in every scene of the movie and uses her incredible on-screen charisma to make you immediately relate to and care about her character. I cannot imagine the emotional toll a role like this takes on a person… but I am talking about Jodie Comer after all, who performed one of the most jaw dropping live performances I’ve ever seen in “Prima Facie” on Broadway (and did so sometimes twice in one day), so should I really be that surprised?
Of course, Comer’s solo performance is impressive, but much should also be said about the main relationships we see with her character that comprise the heart of the movie. First is her relationship with baby Zeb, resulting in many adorable scenes (my favorite of which being Comer talking to the baby by telling him about GREASE) and terrifying scenes as well when you worry about the safety of both mother and child. Second and maybe even more special is her character’s friendship with fellow mother and shelter resident O (Katherine Waterston). O is a beacon of light in a very terrifying situation, someone the mother can trust—even more so than her partner—as they search for sanctuary; their friendship is one of the main love stories of the film and something I honestly cared more about than the woman’s relationship with her partner, which was admittedly complicated.
THE END WE START FROM is a beautiful character study about the power and fortitude of women, which just so happens to take place in apocalyptic times. It is a gut-punch, not only in the heart-wrenching subject matter but in Jodie Comer’s knockout performance, that will leave you hooked from beginning to end.
My Review: A