Make Up ★★★★

Make Up is truly marvellous. It's Andrea Arnold meets Nicolas Roeg via David Lynch, which is a huge compliment to debut feature director Claire Oakley. Whilst it does fit into the recent wave of rural British social realist films, Make Up is not the film you are initially promised. It is better.

One should be weary to spoil anything about Make Up because its slight of hand is so genius when unexpected. It is gritty and layered with psychosexual tension, gripping you from first frame to last. But within that are rare moments of joy and they bring the film over the edge. One wonderful scene of ecstasy is the perfect release valve after Oakley's film so gradually tightens it.

Scenes intercut Make Up, creating dreams and hallucinations through non-chronology. The intriguing plot, which features an enigmatic seductress, begins with a love without passion or romance. By the end the journey takes us towards something else, perhaps even the opposite. It's now a world of reds and blacks, as the screen bleaches in colour. Make Up presents fear in the form of red hair, a fear actually of oneself, and in a way the culmination of it all is about embracing that fear.

Make Up is a stunning achievement from a debuting director. It is confident and unwavering, letting you get lost in bemusement before dragging you back in as each layer peels away. It's really great stuff, add it to your watchlist.

2020 Ranked

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