British actor Tom Cullen, who made his breakthrough in Andrew Haigh’s seminal gay relationship drama Weekend back in 2011, goes behind the camera for his directorial debut, Pink Wall. In a world where the indie movement is struggling to be heard, it’s heartening to see this micro-budget movie make it to screens. An innovative and acutely painful relationship drama, it tells of a couple’s time together in six very distinct chapters.
Starring Jay Duplass as Leon and Tatiana Maslany as Jenna, Pink Wall plays with the chronological order of events. And so we don’t get to see their meet-cute, when Leon is DJing in a club and Jenna starts to make eyes at him, until some way into the film. By that point, it’s been made clear that all is not well with their union. But Cullen’s approach allows us to view their coupling from all different angles across six very turbulent years.
For some, it may recall Harold Pinter’s Betrayal, which plays out a relationship in reverse or Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine. Cullen’s own cinematic influences are writ large – the work of John Cassavetes and Mike Leigh highly influence his naturalistic approach with the actors, and his cast truly takes the opportunity to craft something intense and memorable (adding frisson to the whole experience is the knowledge that, at the time, Cullen and Maslany were off-screen partners).
Duplass, who has also contributed along with his brother Mark, to the American indie tradition that Pink Wall feels like it belongs to, is excellent as Leon, just as Maslany is as Jenna. This is a couple who are all too easy to recognise, in yourself and in those around you. The ups and downs of their relationship will feel uneasily familiar to, well, just about anyone who had ever fallen in love, only for it to falter.
Shot largely in Wales – ex-pats Jenna and Leon seem to be living in Britain, though little is made of this – Pink Wall is a real actor’s film. It’s about conversations around dinner tables, arguments and exchanges of ideas. While some may argue there’s nothing groundbreaking about the film, that it’s even a throwback to films from another time, there’s something to be celebrated about a story that’s been made at breakneck pace and with real intent.
Pink Wall opens on 13 December. For more details, visit here.