Film Review: BRIDGEND (directed by Jeppe Rønde)

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by Dmitry Zvonkov on May 4, 2016

in Film

SARACIDE

After the picture fades at the end of Jeppe Rønde’s Bridgend a title appears: “From 2007 to 2012 there were 79 recorded suicides in Bridgend, Wales. Most victims were teenagers. They hanged themselves and left no suicide notes. To this day the suicides haven’t stopped.” Mr. Rønde’s narrative feature attempts to delve into the lives of the teenagers in this unfortunate town in order to unravel the mystery behind this epidemic. At least I think that’s what it’s trying to do. The film, scripted by Mr. Rønde, Torben Bech, and Peter Asmussen, fails so completely that it’s difficult to tell.

BRIDGEND - Courtesy of Fandor BRIDGEND - Courtesy of Fandor(9)

High schooler Sara (Hannah Murray) moves to Bridgend with her father Dave (Steven Waddington), who is a police investigator, and her horse Snowy. She gets in with a group of teens who drink, party, go skinny dipping, and hang themselves to death with remarkable regularity. Indie-observational in its style, the movie follows Sara around as she interacts with these potential self-murderers, with the intention—I’m guessing—of giving us insight into why they are committing these acts.

BRIDGEND - Courtesy of Fandor(8) BRIDGEND - Courtesy of Fandor(7)

One could argue that Bridgend’s lack of story is intentional, as the film is a depiction of aimless teens. But even aimless teens have desires and fears and needs; an individual who only wants to lie in bed still wants something. Mr. Rønde appears to suffer from a lack of imagination when it comes to the motives of his characters. In fact these people are so indistinct, so thinly drawn, they’re almost nonexistent.

BRIDGEND - Courtesy of Fandor(6) BRIDGEND - Courtesy of Fandor(5)

The irony here is that in trying to delve into the young adult’s experience Mr. Rønde approaches his subjects from the point of view of a condescending grownup for whom all kids, with their loud music and their irresponsible alcohol consumption, and their unapproachability and glum outlook are basically the same. When Sara and her friends are having fun we never feel it. The partiers, the drinking, the petting, all of it Mr. Rønde depicts as one big ball of stupid meaningless chaos, a precursor to inevitable depression and death. Yet at the same time Bridgend is coy in absolving itself of a point of view. Why these children are committing suicide might be a mystery to everyone in the movie, even to the children themselves, but it should not be a mystery to the director. Otherwise, what’s the point?

BRIDGEND - Courtesy of Fandor(4) BRIDGEND - Courtesy of Fandor(3)

photos courtesy of Fandor

BRIDGEND - Courtesy of Fandor(2)

Bridgend
Blenkov & Schønnemann Pictures
Welsh (in English) | 2015 | Color | 104 min.
premieres May 6, 2016
exclusive SVOD on Fandor (U.S. and Canada only)

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