The Arbor

Review by Laura Bushell

Directed by

Clio Barnard


Christine Bottomley Manjinder Virk Natalie Gavin



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



In Retrospect.

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