East End Film Festival Reviews

Sink – Review

When people think of dramas centred around the working class in Britain, you think of EastEnders, gangster flicks, or kitchen sink dramas. The varying interpretations of working class people on TV and film range from gritty and naturalistic, to stylized and extreme. With new film Sink, director Mark Gillis takes his drama back to the more natural, if darker side of the spectrum.

Focusing on one man, with morals and a good work ethic who finds himself on the wrong side of the system. For Sink, writer/director Gillis has delivered a thought-provoking, raw debut feature. Featuring a strong lead performance from Martin Herdman.

Micky (Herdman), is a down on his luck industrial worker, who struggles to get by after being made redundant. His situation is made worse when his ailing father cannot stay in the care home he has lived in. With the two of them forced into Micky’s small flat and with work scarce, Micky tries to get by while still looking after his father Sam (Ian Hogg), and in recovery son Jason (Josh Herdman). With the system, and, at times, bad luck making things harder, Micky turns to other options to support his family.

Written and directed by Mark Gillis in his feature film debut. Gillis is better known for his smaller acting roles on British TV and film. Previously he directed short A Quiet Drink before moving into features.

The film acts to simply follow in its subject tale. We meet Micky as his life becomes all the more difficult. Finding work, taking care of his father and supporting his son build more and more pressure. The film shows at every turn that our system can act as punishment to those who need help. Despite clearly wanting full time work, the industrial workforce has disappeared and Micky is a casualty.

Viewers will feel frustration wanting the films lead to catch a break. Once he succumbs to bad decisions, the film turns into a tense waiting game to see if he will pay for his choices. Alternatively, can the character live with himself if there are no consequences?

What the film and story does so well is question, and indeed display, that good morals and a strong work ethic are not always enough to survive. When immoral decisions are not only your last options, but prove more successful, what does this say about our system?

Image result for sink mark gillis

This is not all doom and gloom though, with the film displaying characters inside and out the system that help. The friendly neighbour, the job centre worker that cares or the teenagers that assist a lost man.

The obvious comparison will be the works of Ken Loach. The social realism dramas of his early years right up to I, Daniel Blake. He portrays the lives and struggle of working people in Britain with a gritty and natural eye. Handheld camera, diegetic sound and a constant scenic reminder of its London setting. At times, the film can feel a little heavy handed but it finds its feet quickly.

Leading the film with a natural performance is Herdman. He plays Micky as moral, strong but slowly cracking under the pressures of his world. He is supported by a strong cast who all aid or hinder Micky’s journey, including the actor’s own son as Jason.

A simple yet heartfelt and honest look at the current state of English working class population. The performances and natural tones make Gillis a director to look out for.


Sink is out in cinemas Friday!

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