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INLAND

WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY FRIDTJOF RYDER

CAST: MARK RYLANCE, RORY ALEXANDER, KATHRYN HUNTER, ELEANOR HOLLIDAY, ALEXANDER LINCOLN, NELL WILLIAMS AND SHAUN DINGWALL


CERT 15 | 82 MINUTES | UNITED KINGDOM | 2022

OFFICIAL SELECTION: BFI LONDON FILM FESTIVAL 2022

IN UK CINEMAS 16 JUNE

MARK RYLANCE & RORY ALEXANDER IN INLAND DIRECTED BY FRIDTJOF RYDERD
MARK RYLANCE & RORY ALEXANDER IN INLAND DIRECTED BY FRIDTJOF RYDER

REVIEW by LARA GRIFFITH

Inland, the first feature from young director Fridtjof Ryder, is a disjointed but atmospheric story of a man haunted by his mother’s disappearance. Billed as a modern folktale, it mixes social realism with the mythical and surreal. The BFI are funding the film’s release and featured it at the 2022 London Film Festival, pitching it as drawing from David Lynch, Nicolas Roeg and rural horror cinema.


Rory Alexander (Pistol, August Osage County, The Laramie Project) plays a nameless young man (“The Man”), and Mark Rylance (Wolf Hall, Dunkirk, Bridge of Spies, Don’t Look Up and preeminent UK stage actor) is Dunleavy, his gentle and isolated father figure. The film was made for “next to no money” and is set in Ryder’s hometown of Gloucester (a “sort of half-rural, half-town space”).


The Man is discharged from what appears to be a psychiatric clinic and, after taping a photograph of his lost mother to the windscreen, drives off. He is welcomed by Dunleavy into his small, tree-shrouded house and joins Dunleavy and co-worker John for shifts at Dunleavy’s garage. The film swerves into the surreal when the man visits a local brothel with John and his friends. Here the men pick between statues of women which float suspended in blackness. The story unfolds in fragments as the man has brief encounters with figures from his past. The film is suffused with green landscapes and features flashbacks of the man as a child.


Inland achieves an unsettling ambience, building at points towards something more menacing. Ryder creates a distinctive sense of place - a fraught human world at the edge of the murmuring forest ecosystem. Rylance provides an emotional anchor with his tender, perfectly pitched performance as Dunleavy, a man whose face and gestures seem to say more than his words.


The film, however, cannot overcome a lack of coherence and momentum. Shards of plot and under-developed interactions risk leaving the audience struggling to put the pieces together, rather than conveying the man’s fractured psychic world. The script gives Alexander too little to do for his character to evolve or to unravel in a truly potent way. When tension starts to mount, it slips away without substantial story threads to sustain it.


Like much else, the fate of the man’s mother – a tantaliszing mystery set up early on – may remain puzzling to the viewer. There is an ambiguous resemblance between her and a woman at the brothel, and a rhythmic, lilting voiceover compounds a sense of dreamlike disconnect.


Ryder has described the movie as a “genre mash-up” spanning folk, horror, psychodrama, surrealism and social realism. The nervous need not worry, as this is not a horror scenario, either viscerally or psychologically – apart from the bodies of several owls. Though the title appears to reference Lynch’s Inland Empire, the surreal is not surreal enough, while the grit of realism is washed away by lingering images. There are echoes of the Green Man folk legend, but in the tussle of the genres, a rather static arthouse sensibility tends to win out.


With a tiny budget, Inland delivers moments of haunting visual impact and a shot of green juice antidote to formulaic blockbusters. However, it doesn’t offer the dramatic satisfaction that many viewers may be looking for.


SOCIAL MEDIA: Instagram:@inlandfilmofficial Fridtjof Ryder: @frtiz.ryder

Henry Richmond: @hen_rxch Louis Paine: @louis_paine Rory Alexander: @r_o_r_ee


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