Does a mother’s love truly know no bounds?
The sound of water threatens to drown you all throughout Saela Davis and Anna Rose Holmer’s unnerving and measured drama, God’s Creatures. The film opens with violent noises shaking through moving water as if we are witnessing someone drowning but their body is just out of frame. Set in a small Irish seaside town, you are always at risk of being swept away.
Emily Watson’s Aileen O’Hara works hard at a fish processing factory when her son, Brian (Paul Mescal) suddenly returns home after spending time in Australia. Why the prodigal son returned is never answered, but Aileen is thrilled that he is home. With the help of his mother, Brian tries to get back on his feet by catching and selling oysters.
There is an unsettling quietness to this town, and everyone knows or works with everyone else. When Sarah, a co-worker of Aileen’s, accuses Brian of sexually assaulting her, his mother lies by providing him with an alibi to clear his name. Has winning her son back blinded Aileen to her own good conscious? As Sarah begins missing work and is rejected by some townspeople, Aileen’s guilt starts to eat away at her. Is her lie the only sin or does the town’s permission to accept Brian with open arms also to blame?
Mescal gives Brian an easy smile but a guarded darkness. He broods and chain smokes with his eyes poised downward like a little boy prone to mischief and, now, violence. God’s Creatures belongs to Watson’s gaze, and she burns through the screen. Aileen is an affectionate mother–she holds her grandchild and caresses Brian upon his return–but becomes terrified of her own love as her actions weigh on her.
God’s Creatures is a seemingly small film about a huge lie, but the silence begins to suffocate us all.
God’s Creatures is now playing in theaters and available on demand.