Upon hearing news of her brother’s apparent suicide, Clover Catto (Ellie Kendrick) returns home to a house devastated by a recent flood and a distant father (played by David Troughton). At home, Clover tries to cope with the loss of her brother but her distant and difficult relationship with her dad makes processing that loss a painful task.
It’s impressive that in the brisk 80 minute running time director Hope Dickson Leigh managed to brilliantly examine a number of different emotions (grief, loss, regret) with such depth. The main emotional story thread is Clover’s distant relationship with her father where it’s what they don’t say to each other proves to be more important. The pair struggle to connect as their different reactions to Harry’s death makes it difficult to discuss the matter, but despite their frequent comings together they do care for one other.
Ellie Kendrick and David Troughton express this wonderfully well in their performances, but Hope Dickson Leigh’s script superbly, and slowly, reveals why their relationship is so distant and often fractured. As we see more interactions between Clover and her dad we begin to understand her snapped response at the start of the film where Clover stated that she wished her father had died instead of Harry (a rash comment I don’t think she meant).
Nanu Segal’s captures the bleak, grey, featureless landscape of the Somerset levels which mirrors the near future of the Catto family whose farm is plagued by financial troubles which were greatly exacerbated by the devastating floods a few years before. The Levelling is a remarkably moving film from first time director Hope Dickson Leigh.