In Mahalia Belo’s directorial debut, The End We Start From, British propriety crumbles as the disaster unfolds, putting a fascinating spotlight on the visceral experience of motherhood. Based on Megan Hunter’s sparse novel and adapted by Alice Birch, the film stars Jodie Comer as a pregnant woman navigating a flood-stricken London, with Joel Fry as her partner, R.
The film’s unique take on the apocalypse unfolds through the microcosm of one family, underlining how mundane the end of the world can feel. Instead of high-octane action, the narrative zeroes in on human relationships, particularly the Woman’s journey to motherhood and her subsequent existential questions. It’s a movie that pares down the noise of societal collapse to focus on the transformative experience of becoming a parent, making it a perfect companion piece to films like Children of Men.
Despite the apocalyptic backdrop, the film exposes the stark reality of an unprepared populace. Neither the Woman nor R possesses any particular survival skills, making them just as vulnerable as the rest of us would be in such a crisis. The film also addresses the psychology of communities in distress, hinting at the universal tendency to forget the past to cope with the present.
The End We Start From captivates viewers not with grand set pieces but with an intimate exploration of parenthood’s sacrifices, especially for the Woman whose life changes irrevocably. Mark Strong and Nina Sosanya play the roles of R’s parents, and Katherine Waterston appears as another new mother, O, who befriends the Woman. Intriguing guest spots from Benedict Cumberbatch and Gina McKee add depth to this atmospheric drama.
At its core, the film challenges our notions of what disaster looks like and how it impacts our humanity. While it won’t give blockbuster apocalypse movies a run for their money, its thought-provoking narrative is likely to stick with you long after the credits roll.
Movie Title: The End We Start From
Festival: Gala Presentations at Toronto Film Festival
Director: Mahalia Belo
Screenwriter: Alice Birch
Cast: Jodie Comer, Joel Fry, Mark Strong, Nina Sosanya, Gina McKee, Katherine Waterston, Benedict Cumberbatch
Distributor: Signature Entertainment
Movie runtime: 1 hr 42 min