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THE END WE START FROM | United Kingdom | 2023 | 102m | English


Starring:  Jodie Fry, Joel Fry, Mark Strong, Nina Sosanya, Gina McKee, Katherine Waterston, Benedict Cumberbatch

Directed By: Mahalia Belo

Adapting Megan Hunter’s prophetic 2017 novel, director Mahalia Belo and screenwriter Alice Birch model their film on the author’s spare, elliptical prose, keeping the disaster just off-screen and letting their actors wear the pressure and tension of the story on their faces as their world gets a little smaller and a lot scarier. Jodie Comer (Killing Eve, The Last Duel), in a role unlike any she’s played before, balances a new mother’s physical and psychic exhaustion with an unyielding life force that makes her the ideal audience surrogate.

The End We Start From is ultimately a cautionary tale, its characters moving episodically through various strata of social collapse. Joel Fry (Cruella, Our Flag Means Death) dials down his substantial charm to play a man desperate to do good in a landscape that offers nothing but horrible options, while Mark Strong, Nina Sosanya, Gina McKee, Katherine Waterston, and Benedict Cumberbatch all contribute brief but indelible appearances.

An apocalyptic drama that still makes room for hope, The End We Start From uses the language of genre to ask the only question that matters about our increasingly bleak future: What will you do? And why aren’t you doing it already?

TIFF REVIEW BY: Darren Zakus

RATING 3. 5 out of 5

The End We Start From is a unique disaster film, more concerned about the state of humanity than scenes of destruction, that with a truly excellent lead performance from Jodie Comer, creates a unique, moving and emotionally intense film about humanity in its darkest moments.


Jodie Comer has made herself a force to be reckoned with in the entertainment industry after sensational performances in Killing Eve and The Last Duel, co-starring alongside Ryan Reynolds in the surprise 2021 hit Free Guy, and earning major accolades for her performance in the West End and on Broadway in Prima Facie. Naturally, the next step in her career was to begin producing her own projects, and she has found a great project to match her talent as an actress: The End We Start From. Teaming with director Mahalia Bello for her feature film directorial debut, Comer continues to prove her incredible ability to captivate audiences with a terrific performance that not only proves that she is a true movie star, but that she is more than able to carry an entire film herself as she portrays this new mother navigating a new world to protect her newborn child and reunite with her husband.


After London and the rest of the United Kingdom is hit by an environmental crisis, resources are scarce. People are scared as society slowly falls into anarchy and chaos, as we follow one mother and her struggle to not only find safe haven for her newborn child, but to make her way back home and find her husband who she was separated from due to the crisis.


End of the world stories are rich with intriguing ideas to be explored, but sadly Hollywood seems more interested in the destruction and mayhem generated by CGI in this genre. Even though The End We Start From has the potential with the environmental crisis that kickstarts the story to deliver thrilling sequences of destruction and devastation, screenwriter Alice Birch avoids this easy sideshow and focuses on the human drama at the center of Megan Hunter’s critically acclaimed debut novel. With the focus on Jodie Comer’s unnamed mother, the film explores her harrowing journey to provide for her newborn daughter after being separated from her husband, looking for someone where safe to live while. The dangers of humanity on the brink of extinction are on full display as anarchy becomes prevalent in the United Kingdom, creating obstacles for Comer’s character to not only protect her newborn daughter, but find a new place to call home. Full of reflective, quiet moments that captures the full breadth of human actions and emotions in such a dire time, Burch’s screenplay creates for a riveting watch with tension filled moments that will have audiences holding their breath, as well as tugging on the heart strings with the overwhelming emotional struggle our main character undergoes during her journey. It’s all captured beautifully by Bello as director, ensuring that the heart of the story is never lost as she takes the audience on this gripping adventure.


Leading the film is Jodie Comer who is nothing short of excellent. As our unnamed new mother, Comer brings a tenacity to the role as she journeys across the English countryside in search of safe haven for her daughter. While her role has large amounts of silence as her character travels across the English countryside trying to find a new home for her daughter, Comer gives a wonderfully fierce and compassionate performance, focusing on her body language to convey her character’s emotions. With less dialogue, her lines become more powerful when she does have them, showcasing not only Comer’s talent, but her ability to carry an entire film from start to finish.


With this type of story, there are lots of characters we meet during this mother’s journey, and the supporting performances are very good. Joel Fry’s performance creates a tender bond with Comer as her husband R, helping to explain the sorrow Comer’s character is facing after they are separated. Mark Strong and Nina Sosanya have some great moments as R’s parents, showing the effects the early days of the disaster have on people. Gina McKee may only have a few scenes in the film, but they are memorable as a lady providing safe haven for mothers and their children in this new world we find ourselves in, and Benedict Cumberbatch’s single scene is one you won’t forget. But it is Katherine Waterston as O who stands out in the supporting cast. After Comer, Waterston has the biggest role as O, another mother with a newborn that Comer’s character meets at a shelter and ends traveling across the countryside with, and her character is a good contrast to Comer’s. Both of them are fierce mothers, but Waterston gives a less emotional performance at times, being the more logical in the pair, while still having beautiful moments together with Comer.


Being a disaster caused by flooding, there are some sequences with good production design that shows the effects this global disaster has had on major cities through its depiction of London. But beyond that, the film has a minimal amount of set and costume design, which works to the film’s benefit. It emphasizes the scarcity of resources that is being experienced in the film, that when combined with the mist and greyness of the countryside and weather of the United Kingdom, creates the ideal visuals for a post apocalyptic world.

There is a need for engaging dramas that are not your typical biopic or stories made for awards season, blending the talent put into those films with a more commercial story, and The End We Start From delivers exactly that. Providing a deeply human and personal story against the disaster genre backdrop, The End We Start From takes audiences on a gripping journey that is only amplified thanks to its great supporting cast and the wonderful lead performance of Jodie Comer.

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