- Gareth Crook
Help (2021) - 9/10
First of all, if you’re used to watching Jodie Comer in Killing Eve, hearing her natural Liverpudlian accent does catch you off guard. She’s no less formidable here though, in fact this is a whole other level, playing a care home worker alongside Stephen Graham who plays Tony, an instantly lovable resident. He and the rest of the residents are an unusual ray of sunshine in an increasingly bleak world. Sarah (Comer) is new to the job, thrown in at the deep end as Tony, one of the younger residents with early Alzheimer’s forgets his reality and goes for a walk. She’s an instant hit. With Tony, with Gloria (Sue Johnston) and her employer Steve (Ian Hart) too. A troubled start in life, she’s found her calling. To say that this is well acted is a humongous understatement. Comer and Graham are always great, but here both deliver powerhouse performances. It’s the rest of the cast too though, that take this from being a great film to something magnificent. It’s calm, honest portrayal of what happens in care homes is to be applauded, but layer it up with Covid-19 and well, it’d be hard to watch if it weren’t so brilliant. Between Sarah’s battles at home with a frustratingly annoying family and the home’s struggles with protocols it has zero help applying. You can feel the anxiety, the handheld camera putting us right in the scene. We know what’s going to happen. We know it’s going to be horrific. I know I’m already a blubbering wreck. Inside 20 mins, Help makes you love its characters. To see them suffer is heartbreaking. It’s the most terrifying film I’ve seen in a long time. Yes it pushes the buttons for dramatic effect, but it remains anchored. Sarah’s humanity and humour is the bedrock. She’s pure compassion. Her and her coworkers are left alone. Left without PPE, without help from any of the services, the NHS pushed to its limit. Feeling that the residents are old and don’t matter, working out how to fend for themselves. Sarah’s strength is monumental. But it’s not enough. You’ll watch this with tears in your eyes, but do watch it. Desperation is an awful thing and leads Sarah to events that although understandable, push her into dangerous situations. Everyone attached should feel immensely proud of this. It’s an amazing piece of work, that highlights the realities of what happened. Yes these are actors and they are brilliant, but this is real. This happened. To know that Tories were wilfully partying whist this went on is disgusting. I hope they watch this and feel that disgust. Then resign with a full apology to those who were left alone to suffer. I can’t help but feel that as we return to the lives we had before, there’s a danger we’ll forget. That the tragedies will be swept under the carpet as politicians use things that did work to cover up woeful inadequacies elsewhere. Help bridges that place in film where although not a documentary, it’s existence is vitally important. Make sure you’ve tissues if you watch this and if you lost family or friends to Covid, especially in a cafe home, be warned that this doesn’t pull any punches.