The Arbor

Review by Laura Bushell

Directed by

Clio Barnard

Starring

Christine Bottomley Manjinder Virk Natalie Gavin

Anticipation.

Enjoyment.

In Retrospect.

A deeply resonant piece of filmmaking that leaves you sure of one thing – there’s always more than one truth.

Clio Barnard’s dissection of the life and legacy of playwright Andrea Dunbar is a fascinating look at working-class Britain and the effects of growing up on a gritty Bradford estate. But more than that, it’s a stunning meditation on the subjectivity of memory.

Dunbar’s children – now in their twenties – recall their past in voiceover as actors lip sync their lines, with her two daughters taking centre stage with mutually sympathetic yet drastically different accounts of their upbringing. The fact that they never appear on screen allows them to talk candidly, while Barnard is given the artistic freedom for some stunning visual interpretations.

Fact and fiction merge once more with re-enactments of Dunbar’s play The Arbor on the estate that inspired it, alongside archive footage of the artist. This is a deeply resonant piece of filmmaking that leaves you sure of one thing – there’s always more than one truth.

Published 22 Oct 2010

Tags: Clio Barnard

Anticipation.

Enjoyment.

In Retrospect.

Related Reviews

The Selfish Giant

By Adam Woodward

This yearning Northern fable examines childhood, poverty and the down-and-dirty face of modern capitalism.

review LWLies Recommends

The Levelling

By David Jenkins

Hope Dickson Leach announces herself as the great white hope of British film with this quietly devastating debut.

review LWLies Recommends

Dark River

By Mike McCahill

Clio Barnard follows up The Selfish Giant with an overwrought domestic drama starring Ruth Wilson.

review

What are you looking for?

Little White Lies Logo

About Little White Lies

Little White Lies was established in 2005 as a bi-monthly print magazine committed to championing great movies and the talented people who make them. Combining cutting-edge design, illustration and journalism, we’ve been described as being “at the vanguard of the independent publishing movement.” Our reviews feature a unique tripartite ranking system that captures the different aspects of the movie-going experience. We believe in Truth & Movies.

Editorial

Design

Sign up to our newsletter to hear more from team LWLies