Is there anything Jodie Comer can’t do? From high stakes TV thriller, through historical epic and video game fun to, most recently at LFF, the voice of reason in a piece of 1960s nostalgia, she doesn’t just understand the assignment. She lives and breathes it – and her powerful turn in post-apocalyptic drama, The End We Start From, is no exception.
We never know her name. She is simply Mother, making her both character and symbol as she fights for survival – both her own and that of her baby – in the aftermath of nationwide floods. The little boy and the disaster arrive at the same time and, with London and much of the South East uninhabitable, she and her husband head north for safety. But, as the situation worsens, refuge in government-run shelters is the only option – until they’re raided by other survivors, desperate for food.
Based on Megan Hunter’s book of the same name, mass destruction takes second place to the smaller, deeply personal stories of people desperately trying to stay alive in its wake. Mother teams up with Katherine Waterston in one shelter: she also has a baby in tow and they head for a remote commune, run by Gina McKee. Everybody has their own story and their own struggle, even those portrayed in a less than flattering light.
The story gets off to a strong start, with evocative visuals of the destruction wreaked by water, once a source of life, but now a force for destruction. It’s a solid narrative, one that benefits from a certain topicality and the possibility that such a disaster could genuinely happen, but its impetus dries up in the final third, resulting in a hurried and near-facile ending. Comer, however, is constantly the reason for watching. Hardly ever off the screen, she is in turn vulnerable, defiant, courageous and a force of nature in her own right. While the film itself isn’t distinctive enough to make a big splash, it’s yet more evidence that it’s only a matter of time before Comer is the A lister she deserves to be.
The End We Start From was seen and reviewed at the London Film Festival. It will be released in UK cinemas on 19 January 2024.