‘Ashgrove’ World Premier GFF2022 review by Pat Byrne
Ashgrove – Glasgow Film Festival 2022
Ashgrove is very much a film of our time about the world threatened by a pandemic when the water supply is affected. People are dying of toxicity caused by consuming too much water so everyone has to carefully monitor the amount they drink each day. |
It’s a plot that is more relatable than it would have been just a few years back when we had yet to experience Covid19. The sense of anxiety is maintained throughout the film as we see negotiations regarding swapping allocated water for a glass of wine, slices of water melon measured out and accidental spillages.
However, apart from one scene contained in a nightmare we don’t experience anything of mass panic as the focus of the film is on Dr Jennifer Ashgrove, a scientist expected to come up with a cure. At the start of the film she appears to have found the solution and makes a call to her work associate, Elliott, with the urgent instruction to get the team together as:”I’ve figured it out”.
In the next scene we find Jennifer In hospital after having had a blackout with no recall regarding her amazing discovery. The doctor advises her to have a couple of days rest to recover but anxious to continue her mission to find a cure, she is reluctant to agree: “Every day 100,000 people die but I’m going to head up to have a vacation.” However, she is persuaded by her colleague, Elliott, to take a couple of days off and go to the farmhouse in the country she and her husband, Jason, own.
As Jason and Jennifer spend time together we see how long times spent apart have put a strain on their relationship. Jason is supposed to be writing a book but appears to have become obsessed with food and cooking and he’s started learning to play the ukulele. While the couple wander in the garden chatting about what Jason has been growing then taking their boat out on the nearby river, your inclination is to find comfort in them relaxing but something does not sit quite right. We get a hint that there is more going on when Jason checks a list, which he ticks off as various actions take place.
There are very few significant characters but their friends, Elliott, Jennifer’s co-worker, and Sammie, his pregnant partner, play key roles. When they come to visit for the day we learn that as Jennifer and Elliott have been carrying out their research into a cure Sammie and Jason have grown very close.
Ashgrove is a very atmospheric and intriguing film with fine actors and a story that immediately draws you in; focussing not on those suffering the results of a pandemic but the lives of the people seeking a cure. Some scenes are particularly engrossing including when the two couples play a guessing game about their partners. The scenes with the rowing boat are significant with the juxtaposition of the pleasant activity and the water surrounding them that presents such danger to mankind.
The film shines a light on how world renowned experts, with the task of finding a cure to save the world, also have families. We see how their lives are affected and how relationships become strained through loneliness, the responsibility of finding a cure to the pandemic and the need for huge sacrifices to be made. Jennifer and Jason’s commitment to their motto of ‘I’ll follow you’ has been sorely stretched and we witness their resentment, mistrust and anger leading to revelations culminating in a huge fight where Jennifer storms off. However, there is much more at stake than a marriage…
Pat Byrne, March, 2022.
Writer and Director Duo Jonas Chernick and Jeremy LaLonde
Cast – Amanda Brugel, Jonas Chernick, Natalie Brown
(BananaMoonSky Films, 2022)
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