Steve G 🟨🟥’s review published on Letterboxd:
As if caravan parks when they're open aren't threatening enough.
Claire Oakley's teasing psychological drama was one of the first films to drop afresh into cinemas since the Covid lockdown, and might be one of the last ones to make it before Covid lockdown 2.
Whatever happens, I do hope that Make Up is given an additional shot at attention because this is the sort beguiling and unpredictable film that I can easily see picking up a cult following. As long as people are given the chance to see it. But with the BBC, BFI and Curzon all backing it, I'd be confident that would be the case.
I guess the difficulty comes in trying to explain what Make Up is but in actuality it's certainly a film likely to be spoiled by even a slightly detailed description. There are no major twists here but a viewing done under a cloak of faint ignorance, which I wore as I wandered into Manchester's HOME for the first time since February, is definitely beneficial. Indeed, a smattering of good reviews and an intriguing brief synopsis was enough to get me outside to see this one.
In particular with the (excellent) ending that she sets up, there's a feeling here that Oakley might have made her film deliberately to subvert expectations and nothing more. That wouldn't give credit to the interesting set of characters and genuine air of suspense that's drummed up, and not just by the wind whistling round an out-of-season Cornish caravan park.
It would also detract from Oakley's set-up of the dismantling of a malfunctioning relationship by meeting it head-on. Molly Windsor and Joseph Quinn, both excellent here (Windsor is especially one to watch), clearly are not made for one another but the concept of Windsor essentially travelling hundreds of miles to confirm to herself it's not working is an interesting one.
It perhaps underplays one or two support characters (especially an amusing turn by Lisa Palfrey as a dotty park owner) and as such leaves their contributions rather adrift, but they do at least contribute a small amount to the oppressive atmosphere Windsor seems smothered by. It's difficult to dig into this one without giving up all its secrets but Make Up is a superb debut feature from Oakley that I hope leads to a lot more from her.