There’s good reason that Relic has been closely associated with The Babadook, not just because it’s Australian genesis but also as it manages to expose one of humanities greatest fears from the perspective of a directorial feature debut.
Where The Babadook shone a light on grief, and how it can it can take hold of our sanity, Relic puts our response to dementia under scrutiny.
Natalie Erika James proves that she can handle the strong subject matter head on and guide highly esteemed actors Robyn Nevin (Edna) and Emily Mortimer (Kay) in a mother / daughter relationship that is already estranged but the chasm of time exposes this further through Edna’s deteriorating condition.
Muddying the waters is this strange notion that all is not as it seems at the family abode, with a dark presence lurking in the shadows.
Rounding out the trio and providing a third generation into the mix is granddaughter Sam (Bella Heathcote – cutting an impressive performance alongside her costars) who equally has distanced from her mother but holds a strong connection to her grandmother, willing to put a life which holds little meaning on hold to try and aid Edna’s needs, so that she doesn’t get sent to an elderly home.
Part of this films appeal definitely comes from the way the three relatives interact with one another, in some cases trust are brought to light, in others harbours away and kept from the audience as such family stories often do, but the depth of their emotional hardship is etched on the faces of the characters.
Again, a testament to the talent involved but also the strength of the script written by James and her cowriter Cristian White.
The film lures you into the mystery as Kay and Sam are called to Edna’s house when they hear of her disappearance.
It’s the crisis point that unites each relative together as they try to understand the unknown while finding themselves along the way. In order to do so however, they must face the demon head on and either vanquish or embrace it.
At its heart, Relic is a story of love and hope. When these are challenged, we’re left with hardships and invisible barriers preventing any chance of rehabilitation.
Dementia is such a harrowing experience for all involved and using horror as its genre of choice, James weaves together a story that delivers the turmoil not captured since Sarah Polley’s Away From Her.
- Saul Muerte