Dominic Savage (director)
03 August 2018 (released)
01 August 2018
What lifts The Escape from a slightly overlong kitchen sink drama are the improvised performances from Gemma Arterton (Tara) and Dominic Cooper (Mark) plus an outstanding sound design and score by Alexandra Hardwood and Anthony John which in some scenes illustrate the core of the problems that Tara is going through.
From the off it is obvious that Tara is having difficulties. In bed before work Mark has his way, clearly upsetting her to the extent that one could question if it was forced. It’s the start of the day that sees her taking the children to school, then shopping, housework, kids, home supper, and Mark. The routine is what it is; day in, day out.
Mark senses something is not right and in confrontation his default is to ask if there is someone else. Tara assures him that she is not having an affair, though his frustration and mistrust are palpable. Taking random trip to London Tara with her free time she explores and lets her mind wander. On the South Bank she picks up a book illustrating the Lady and the Unicorn, and tapestries that represent the senses.
Stimulated by these she returns home to an unresponsive Mark who, as she explains her desires, agrees but is more concerned with a supper he didn’t want. As the days pass the pressures build, the children play up and Tara has a screaming fit at them; things are starting to fall apart.
It comes to a head when Tara packs a bag and goes to Paris - one way. There her senses are liberated as she revels in wonder. She freely walks the streets, enjoys the restaurants eventually finding a place to stay.
Off to see the tapestries she’s followed by a photographer Philippe (Jalil Lespert) whom she acquaints and who can best be described as a disappointment. Picked up by a kindly lady Anne (Marthe Keller), she’s given a place for the night and some good advice. With that she returns home.
The film excels with some excellent work from writer/director Dominic Savage who fixes the characters with tight close ups. The early scenes have Mark almost as a sex maniac with virtually no consideration for Tara. Her distress is tangible and it during a barbecue as she is overwhelmed by its social conformity; a domestic drone that pulses, building, building with no release.
Arterton is pitch perfect as Tara who is mentally and physically imprisoned in a Sisyphean nightmare. Its hinted that it could have been different but circumstances and choices have damned her.
She’s matched by Cooper. Mark is initially a totally unsympathetic character who slowly develops as Cooper gets to grip with a man who knows that something is wrong but just hasn’t the wherewithal to deal with the situation in front of him. Frustrations boil over and while there are suggestions of a darker element to his character it doesn’t descend into violence.
Time will tell if The Escape will be seen as an ‘important’ film for now it explores some very complicated issues that are going to be familiar to many, both men and women.