Dark River – Sky Cinema Premiere

Ruth Wilson and Mark Stanley go head-to-head as estranged siblings wrangling for control of their family's struggling Yorkshire farm in this powerful drama

Ruth Wilson and Mark Stanley go head-to-head as estranged siblings wrangling for control of their family’s struggling Yorkshire farm in this powerful drama.

Loosely inspired by Rose Tremain’s 2010 novel Trespass, this movie opens with the briskly capable Wilson working as an itinerant sheep shearer. Clearly haunted, she hasn’t visited her own family’s home for 15 years, but returns there when she learns of her father’s death following a long illness.

In her absence, brother Stanley has been trying to keep the failing farm afloat while caring for their father. But she is determined to take control, because her father promised her the farm’s tenancy – or so she believes and asserts. Nor can the siblings decide on how the farm should be run, Wilson favouring no-nonsense practicality, whereas Stanley has a more romantic attachment to the land.

However, deeper, darker causes lie behind the siblings’ disunity and writer-director Clio Barnard reveals them, with brief, stabbing flashbacks to Wilson’s traumatic earlier life in which a louring Sean Bean takes the role of dad.

Back in the present, the rain lashes the landscape and the tension builds. Things possibly get too overwrought at the end, but Wilson and Stanley are superb and it is great to see Wilson, after years of acclaimed work on stage and TV (notably in Luther and The Affair), show off her blazing talent on the big screen as well.