Stars: Clémence Poésy, Laura Birn, Stephen Campbell Moore, David Morrissey, Deborah Findlay.
Director: David Farr
Screenplay: David Farr
I seriously enjoyed The Ones Below, from the incredible acting skills of Clémence Poésy, to its sickening feeling of being an insecure first time parent—I am not a parent but I sure felt like one watching this. A simple story of an expecting couple who live on the second floor of a flat who finally get new neighbours downstairs who are also expecting. Kate (Clémence Poésy) meets Theresa (Laura Birn) as she heads out to do some errands, they quickly become close as they bond over their pregnancies. Kate invites Theresa and her husband Jon (David Morrissey) over to dinner even if her husband Justin (Stephen Campbell Moore) is not overly keen on the idea. What starts off as a rather awkward evening turns a misery as Theresa falls down the stairs in the dark as the lightbulb blew just before dinner.
This thriller is a bit see through in its formula but I really couldn't care about that because Poésy is just simply so gripping to watch in this film. Her character must go through joy about becoming a mother to being uncomfortable to be excited as her neighbour tragically miscarried. She has to portray being anxiously exhausted when her child is born and find the balance between playing it over the top or grounded. She amazingly pulls this off in an otherwise melodramatic affair. If it were not for her commitment to her character this film could have come across as a lesser film.
Farr reaches us all by using our natural instinct to want to care for a vulnerable child. He infuses this with classic thriller conventions and it kind of works. It encourages you to empathise entirely with Kate, you feel her exhaustion, you feel her anxiety for her son, and you know she never left the gas or water running. Poésy allows you to know her character so completely to such an end that it slightly hinders the believability of the plot—but she is so good I find it kind of hard to actually care.