In View

Written and directed by Ciarán Creagh, In View is about Ruth Donnelly (Caoilfhionn Dunne), a garda who is struggling with feelings of guilt and depression. Ruth blames herself for the deaths of her husband and son, and she’s not alone in this. Her response to these feeling takes the form of excessive drinking and angry outbursts at other people, which brings her into conflict with everyone around her until she comes to a life-changing decision.

The exact story is a little unclear for a while and it’s left to the viewer to figure out what’s going on. Even the fact that the woman we’re following is a garda isn’t revealed until a few scenes in, and the surprise is quite well handled. The gradual revealing (or plain withholding) of information provides some semi-suspense for a film that’s not especially plot-driven, but there are moments—especially early on—where not much seems to be happening to move things forward. In terms of tone and style, there’s not a lot of variation in the film, with rare humorous moments and an ending that doesn’t allow for much relief.

The style is restrained and naturalistic, with expressive cinematography, and a gloomy near-monochrome pallette. The film is carried by an excellent performance from Dunne, and it’s quite refreshing to see both a female protagonist, and a woman who’s allowed to be aggressive rather than passive. The filmmakers are willing to make Ruth unsympathetic while allowing for moments of vulnerability and kindness to add dimension to her character. Possibly the strongest part of the film is the acting. All the characters, even those that appear only briefly are well-rounded and well-played.

Depression is a tough subject to deal with in film, and this one deserves some credit for trying to tackle it. It’s often a subjective, abstract state that’s hard to put into words, as evidenced by the often useless advice people are inclined to give to the depressed person, like “Look on the bright side”. Even in the case of this film, the characters are suffering as a result of specific events, though that’s understandable—it’s easier to relate to something concrete. I’m not sure how helpful it would be to someone suffering from depression, but its empathic treatment of its characters and situation could provide a valuable window for the rest of us into the lives of people who are suffering.

In View is on release at the IFI from May 19th