Dirty God is one of the must-see films of the year – and here’s our review.
Director: Sacha Polak
Cast: Vicky Knight, Katherine Kelly, Rebecca Stone
Release date: 7th June
Reviewer: Georgina Smith
Dirty God follows Jade (Vicky Knight), a young mum who was left with severe scarring following an acid attack by her ex-boyfriend, as she struggles to try and regain some semblance of her life and who she was before the attack. She grapples with trying to be both a good mum and a good daughter as she adjusts to her new appearance, while desperately searching for some magic cure that will transform her back to the girl she was before the attack.
Director and co-writer Sacha Polak immerses the audience fully in Jade’s world. Set in London, Dirty God has an overwhelmingly authentic British feel, to the extent that the film’s brief relocation to Morocco almost feels jarring – the story is at its strongest when it’s back in London. We see Jade get a job at a call centre and resort to late night internet chat rooms in a desperate search for some form of intimacy, as she battles her feelings for her best friend’s boyfriend who she had a brief relationship with before the attack.
This is a film built around its lead’s performance, and newcomer Vicky Knight puts in work you’d expect from somebody nearing the peak of their career with decades of experience behind them, not in their debut role. It’s subtle, full of restraint and has all the more impact because of it. It’s hard to pick a standout moment of her performance, because there are so many of them. But maybe it’s the way she gets across the complicated relationship with her mum, Lisa (Katherine Kelly). The two of them are excellent together, their chemistry making their scenes one of the film’s highlights. As Jade searches for a miracle surgery, the audience can’t help but be behind her, even though it’s clear that it’s not going to be a straightforward tale. And between Polak’s direction and Knight’s performance, they create a character that, although flawed, is very much still the hero.
It’s easy to feel appalled by the things that have happened to Jade, but you never pity her, because Polak and Knight don’t allow you to. Instead, you’re invited to watch and support her in her search for acceptance of what her life is now, even through her mistakes and missteps.
A raw, brilliant film.