Gemma Arterton’s first appearance on the big screen was hardly the most auspicious beginning. Then again, St Trinian’s is hardly a film which will go down in history as anything other than being better than its sequel. However, slowly but surely the Kent native has managed to find roles which have allowed her to showcase her acting talent. Gemma Bovery, Their Finest and a stint on the stage in Saint Joan and Nell Gwynn have demonstrated her considerable abilities. The Escape is her best performance yet.
Tara (Arterton) and Mark (Dominic Cooper) have two young children. Whilst he goes to work, she stays at home with the children. Mark has very traditional views of a ‘woman’s place’, expecting her to take care of his sexual needs, run the household and look after the kids. Whilst he loves his ‘beautiful’ wife, he’s blind to her needs. Tara becomes increasingly disillusioned and depressed with her life, blaming herself for her unhappiness. A spur of the moment trip to London triggers a major life change.
The Escape is a difficult film to watch at times. It’s a powerful drama and Arterton’s performance is incredibly emotive and well-judged. It’s the time before the ‘escape’ where Dominic Savage’s film really excels. Once the location shifts, whilst it’s still impressive, it does descend more and more into cliché. Cooper is also superb as the tactless, self-obsessed and insensitive Mark. The Escape is not an easy film by any means but one which rewards patience and understanding.
The Escape is released on DVD by Vertigo Releasing on 7 January.