Based on the debut novel by Megan Hunter of the same name, THE END WE START FROM stars Emmy-winner Jodie Comer as Mother, a woman who has just given birth and is forced to flee flooded London after an apocalyptic storm. Directed by Mahalia Belo with a screenplay adapted by Alice Birch, this story highlights the ramifications of our pending ecological crises.
Following the arrival of their son, Zeb, Mother and her partner, R (Joel Fry), escape London and arrive at the rural home of R’s parents (Nina Sosanya and Mark Strong). After their well-stocked supply of food runs out, Mother and R must move on. They find a shelter for Mother and Zeb, but R is not permitted to stay.
Against her wishes, R leaves Mother at the shelter where at least there is some food. Another young mother, O (Katherine Waterston), is there with her baby and the two women bond. A raid on the facility finds Mother and O alone on their own with their children in the wilderness. They come across a man (Benedict Cumberbatch) who offers them food and shelter in an abandoned house. He’s lost his wife and sons but is determined to go back to London to search for them.
O knows of an island run by a friend (Gina McKee) where she and Mother can reside in peace with their babies. Once there, though things are relatively safe and calm, Mother is resolute in her decision to return to her home in London with Zeb.
THE END WE START FROM is a dramatic thriller driven by the outstanding performance from Comer. She is certainly no stranger to demanding roles after her Emmy-winning turn as the assassin Villanelle in “Killing Eve” and what should have been an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Marguerite de Carrouges in Ridley Scott’s THE LAST DUEL, a much better film than NAPOLEON. But I digress ---
Here as Mother, Comer carries the entire film, and she is up to the task. It’s one thing to be on your own in the middle of a disaster, but this young woman has the responsibility of caring for a child. She transitions through so many stages --- anger, loneliness, despair --- but never loses sight of her goal to begin to build a new life for her son.
Comer’s ability to transcend the horrors and still revel in the smallest delights with her baby is astounding. She never allows Mother to become completely overwhelmed, and thus THE END WE START FROM is a reminder of the need for hope, no matter what catastrophe one may face.
Opinion: See It Now!
When one of the world’s major metropolitan areas is struck with catastrophic flooding --- in this case, London --- we would expect to see more dire repercussions. In director Mahalia Belo’s feature debut, THE END WE START FROM --- adapted from the novel by Megan Hunter --- the lack of food, water, electricity, etc. for denizens of the disaster area is treated rather superficially, although the production is greatly aided by Suzie Lavelle’s cinematography.
With the turmoil of all this shown briefly --- the predictable panic and greed of certain individuals concerned only with their own survival --- we don’t get the feeling of a worldwide event or even global concern about London’s plight. Or an imminent apocalypse, for that matter.
Jodie Comer stars as a woman named Mother who has given birth to her baby just prior to flood waters crashing into her and her partner R’s (Joel Fry) London home. Eventually Mother ends up on an island commune inhabited by a small group of survivors who eke out an existence. But Mother is far from satisfied.
Comer effectively displays a wide range of emotions in this film, from pure joy playing with her newborn son, Zeb, to utter hopelessness moments later. Ultimately her character must make the agonizing decision to leave the island. This suggests the conundrum of simply being alive as opposed to a life worth living.
A brief encounter with a man (Benedict Cumberbatch) who decides to return to London to find his family obviously has an impact on Mother’s thinking. When her close friend O (Katherine Waterston), begs Mother to stay it is almost heartbreaking in its desperation.
THE END WE START FROM is an impressive beginning for Belo as a new filmmaker. And it does add to the already extraordinary resume that is Comer’s.
Opinion: Wait for VOD