By Emma Silverthorn [email protected]_Gazelle
Like Joanna Hogg’s first two feature films Exhibition (2013) is a spot-on meditation focused on British middle-class mores. However this time, instead of sending her characters on holiday, she shows them within their natural environment. Their home-an ultra modernist design by architect James Melvin to whom the film is dedicated-is as the director says, ‘very much the third character in the story.’ But after twenty years of living within this unique creation artistic couple D-played by Viv Albertine, former guitarist in band The Slits– and H -played by conceptual artist Liam Gillick- are selling; a process which allows for a nice cameo from Hogg’s favourite, Tom Hiddleston, who play the slick estate agent doing the selling.
This process of change inevitably stirs up a number of latent domestic, romantic and sexual anxieties for the pair, particularly D and it is the unravelling of and development of her character that fixes the audiences attention.
Casting wise Gillick and Albertine are brilliant as long-term, creative marrieds, with the sometime awkwardness of these two non-actors working well in terms of the strained dynamic between the couple. Aside from these key performances Hogg achieves a great feat in managing to create a world that is in equal measures painfully realistic, an early scene detailing D’s experience of sexual anhedonia whilst in bed with H being an especially excruciating example. And at other points dreamily uncanny; D’s anxiety, paranoia and struggle for creative autonomy bringing the latter aspects to the fore.
Hogg chooses to leave the couple’s future refreshingly open at the film’s conclusion, where they will go from here is unclear. Exhibition is not an easy watch but one that is well worth the unsettling.