“Joe, why are you doing this?”
— Christine’s enigmatic cries
In the year 1623, in his essay “Meditation 17,” English poet John Donne compared humans to countries and continents to God as an argument that man can not exist without a connection to each other and with God. No person ever suffers alone and, as we cope with our own pains and of others, we discover an inner strength that draws us closer to God. And a piece of God exists in each and everyone of us.
And on the Republic of Malta island of Gozo in the Mediterranean Sea, Joe (Joseph Kennedy, a British stage and TV vet; Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll) and Lucille (Ophelia Lovibond, a 20-year vet of numerous British TV series; a co-starring role on CBS-TV’s Elementary) come to learn that you never disconnect yourself from past sufferings. You can runaway from the past, but the further you run, the more desperate your isolation becomes, for the “island” you seek is just an illusion. There is no escape. For no man is an island. As Glenn Fry warned us in his lyrical interpretation of John Fowles’s 1965 novel The Magus — itself set on Mediterranean Greek island — you can check out (from the mainland) anytime you like . . . but you can never leave.
For Londoners Joe and Lucille, their lazy-days dream is an old stone farm-house with a swimming pool and a breathtaking view. And while the real reason for their new island existence is Joe sweeping his past affair with Lucille, which lead to his ex-lover’s suicide, he’s convinced himself it’s for his job as a sound engineer, creating a catalog of the island’s unique environs for film soundtracks and commercial jingles. When a young tourist, a redhead resembling his dead ex-lover, Christine, goes missing, the island’s idyllic, open landscapes transform into a claustrophobic nightmare: Joe’s buried guilt and isolation manifests as a series of strange, recorded noises that descends him to a madness that Lucille must escape.
Now, while this sounds like a horror movie — filled with the (subtle) omnipresent hallucinations, spectres, and peripheral phantasms — this feature film writing and directing debut (based on an idea by Joseph Kennedy) by Miranda Bowen (BBC America’s Killing Eve), is anything but. For Gozo is an island where the Hitchcockian meets the Shakespearian; where Joe’s a doomed Prospero living a life of illusion — an illusion shattered by an Ariel that opens his eyes and ears to the tempest of his past.
And leave your A24 or Blumhouse expectations of the paranormal variety on the mainland.
Other recent releases from the Indie Rights Films catalog we’ve reviewed include Banging Lanie, Blood from Stone, The Brink (Edge of Extinction), Double Riddle, The Girls of Summer, Loqueesha, Making Time, and Mnemophrenia.
Disclaimer: We did not receive a review request for this film. We discovered the trailer on social media, were intrigued by the film, and requested a screener. We truly enjoyed the film.