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Review: Five Weeks


A new mother struggles to cope while harbouring a secret.


Mastering the art of slow-build reveals can be quite the balancing act. Riding the line between narrative obfuscation and engaging dramatic conflict requires the ability to pace, drop clues that make sense in retrospect and create an air of mystery and tension that keeps the audience hooked until the bomb is dropped. Looking at director Geej Ower’s previous work in music videos, commercials and more, reveals her journey to mastering this particular craft; mastery that is very much on show in this deeply psychological mystery.  


Opening on our protagonist, (played by Esther Smith of Cuckoo and Apple TV+’s Trying), we are immediately thrust into the midst of a secret that is eating her alive. With a performance that communicates her internal tumult to the audience, while betraying nothing in her voice as she speaks to other characters, Smith brilliantly communicates everything we need to know without the need for expository dialogue. A drawn out shot of Smith being transfixed by a dead fox by the side of the road gives us our first major clue as to what Smith’s character is hiding.


A big part of the film’s genius lies in its ability to layer tension onto the mundane. Without a clear picture of everything that is unfolding, a sequence following Smith through a supermarket slowly becomes a thoroughly unnerving and borderline terrifying experience. So much of this is wrapped up in Smith’s extraordinary performance, as she barely keeps a lid on emotions that, we eventually realise, are already in the process of erupting. Underscored, not only by Ower’s masterful creative stewardship and Nick Morris’ stunning cinematography but also by a brilliantly unsettling sound design by Ines Adriana, Smith’s descent into panic fully encompasses the film to the point that the audience feels as trapped and frantic as she does.


As the story reveals that our protagonist is a recent mother, the story finds its opportunity to inject some relatability into the proceedings, whilst simultaneously heightening both the mystery and the tension. We suddenly go from being confronted by a woman in distress to a mother in distress. Although the exact cause of that distress remains a mystery, the story becomes about the struggles so many mothers face that they do not feel that they can share. Over and above that, the film communicates, in a subtle, yet effective manner, the pressure mothers feel to not only suppress any signs of difficulty but to actively project how well they are doing. The tactically deployed repeated refrain of “I’m just tired” throughout the film is the red flag that so many of us miss when new mothers want to reach out for help but feel like they will be regarded as failures as mothers if they do.


Once we are able to anchor Smith’s psychological turbulence to her challenges as a mother, the film becomes much more of a human story but in doing so manages to ratchet up its mystery elements until the full picture of the story is chillingly revealed.


As stunning as it is crucial, Five Weeks is a great example of multiple levels of film craft working in tandem with an actors performance. These factors come together to deliver a deeply intense, sobering and heart breaking experience.

Studio: Stink Films/MrMr Films | Year: 2022 | Genre: Drama/Mystery | Duration: 12 Mins | Suitability: Advisory



Director: Geej Ower | Producers: Katie Lambert, Martha McGuirk | Writer: Geej Ower

Find out more about the film using the links below:


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