Whenever a new director comes out of the gate and makes their filmmaking debut, it’s always something to remember and be amazed by. Writer/director Claire Oakley’s debut feature, Make Up, is just that. This is a slow-burn story about a young romantic couple that has moved out to a holiday trailer park in Cornwall. She’s uncertain whether or not he’s being unfaithful to her or if she’s just imagining the whole thing. Feeling like the perfect blend of Andrea Arnold and Nicolas Roeg, Oakley has crafted a story that illustrates and taps into the insecurities and emotions one experiences when in a relationship at a young age and the eventual growth and transformation that eventually emerges from that.
Young love is the subject that’s at the very centre of this story and is the thing that brings these characters together and is what’s driving the story forward, while offering frank and sensitive depictions of love, fear, insecurity and sexuality. Oakley does wonders by making this film as layered as possible with psychosexual tension throughout, but contained within all that are these moments of happiness, peace and joy, and that makes for a haunting yet beautiful experience. This culminates in a moment of pure ecstasy and freedom, embracing fear and providing the perfect release valve for our main character after bottling up her insecure emotions for most of the runtime.
Every aspect of this low-budget production is solid and plaudits go to the talent involved like composer Ben Salisbury, editor Sacha Szwarc and cinematographer Nick Cooke, but at the very centre of this whole film is a mesmerising, ethereal performance by rising-star Molly Windsor. Having already made a huge impact on TV by delivering equally-captivating turns in Cheat and Three Girls (for which she won a BAFTA award for), Windsor gives a performance here that’s subtle but impactful, nuanced but believable. As the film progresses, we see her learn, grow and evolve as an individual, we understand her needs, sympathising with her as her anxieties eat her up from the inside before emerging from the whole experience feeling fulfilled by the end. Windsor deserves enormous praise for making that journey as meaningful as it was, and here’s hoping she continues to deliver equally-amazing portrayals in the near future.
Whatever you may think, Make Up stands as a stunning debut from Claire Oakley, who delivered a small tale of self-discovery and modern love with such confidence and ease, and all anchored by a captivating central performance from Molly Windsor. If you are interested in smaller indie movies coming out of the UK, then this is one that’s worth checking out.
Dir: Claire Oakley
Scr: Claire Oakley
Cast: Molly Windsor, Joseph Quinn, Stefanie Martini
Prd: Emily Morgan
DOP: Nick Cooke
Music: Ben Salisbury
Run time: 86 mins
In cinemas and exclusively on Curzon Home Cinema Friday 31st July