Published on June 19th, 2016 | by Allan Brown3
EIFF 2016: Starfish Review
UK Release Date: 28 October 2016
Running Time: 92 minutes
Director: Bill Clark
Writers: Bill Clark
Cast: Joanne Froggatt, Tom Riley, Phoebe Nicholls, Ellie Copping, Michele Dotrice
Writer/Director Bill Clark weaves the tragic real life story of Tom Ray and his family in one of the most affecting British films of the year; Starfish.
Tom Ray (Tom Riley) lives an ‘ordinary’ life; he is a doting stay at home father to his daughter Grace (Ellie Copping) and loving husband to his beautiful and pregnant wife Nicola (Joanne Froggatt). But when Tom is suddenly stuck down by the rare and debilitating disease Sepsis – which leads to the loss of his lower arms, legs and part of his face, his ordinary world is suddenly turned upside down.
From the initial crippling event to the rehabilitation and subsequent re-adjustment of family life (with new baby in tow), no stone is left unturned and scenes are rightfully void of any sugar coating. This is real life, frank and as direct as you’ will ever see it on screen.
While Tom’s physical and emotional scars are anticipated in the aftermath of the disease, Clark carefully presents the effects it leaves on each and every member of the family. This is not only testament to Clark’s understanding and respect to Tom’s personal family story, but the films hard hitting approach is fundamental to its success.
The entire cast are flawless, in particular Ellie Copping who gives a standout performance as young Grace (who’s not so young anymore). With few words she manages to convey an emotion beyond her years as she gives us, the audience, a window in, showing us how this huge change has affected the life of a young child. However, it is our two central leads; Joanne Froggatt and Tom Riley who anchor the film by delivering two of the most emotionally charged and devastatingly honest performances of the year.
Despite it being a raw and deeply emotional journey filled with heartache and hardship, Starfish’s final message is one of hope, strength and most of all, LOVE.
Summary: Two compelling central performances and a direct approach make Starfish one of the most affecting British films of the year.