A movie written, filmed and directed in Lincolnshire has received high praise from national media and film reviewers, including The Guardian who described Lapwing as an “intriguing, slightly stylised and quasi-theatrical piece”.
Lincoln-born screenwriter Laura Turner and local director Philip Stevens made their feature film debuts with Lapwing. Lapwing is set in 1555, a year after the Egyptian Act of 1554, on the isolated Lincolnshire coast, exploring the female experience of emotional abuse and coercive control in relationships.
The story tells the story of a mute young woman called Patience, who is played by Hannah Douglas, confronting the physical, verbal and emotional abuse she has suffered from her brother-in-law, and falling in love with a gypsy called Rumi. The plot sees an isolated group of salt farmers arrange an illegal passage to Europe for an Indian gypsy family in hiding, but a love affair between an aphonic English girl and the son of the Egyptians threatens to destroy both communities.
Produced by Lincolnshire based production company Urban Apache Films, it was filmed entirely in the county. The cast and crew are largely made up of people from or with connections to Lincolnshire, as well as some well-known names – Emmett J Scanlan who was in Hollyoaks and Peaky Blinders, and Sebastian de Souza who featured in Skins.
Lapwing was released in selected cinemas on November 26, including Lincoln’s Everyman Cinema and Parkway Cinema in Cleethorpes. Before the film’s general release it also had a world premiere at the Leeds International Film Festival, a local premiere at the Everyman Cinema, and a screening at the Rio Dalston in London.
In addition, the film is also available on demand through Apple TV, Amazon Prime, Google Play and Sky Movies.
High praise for Lincolnshire film
The Guardian was among many to review the filming, awarding it 3/5 stars
The review said: “Screenwriter Laura Turner and director Philip Stevens are making their feature-film debuts with this intriguing, slightly stylised and quasi-theatrical piece: stark, oppressive, menacing, a historical drama with a slice of horror. ”
It added: “Stevens resourcefully uses the blank canvases of wild, empty coastline and forest to avoid the need for much specific period detail.”
Mark Kermode spoke about the movie on his 5 Live Film Review. He said: “It’s got a really kind of effective atmosphere. It’s shot by Stewart McGregor and makes fantastic use of the landscapes. There’s this kind of feeling that this could be happening anywhere at almost any time. There is very good music by Lee Gretton.
“It’s [the film] bleak, and at times it’s kind of almost intolerably bleak, but there’s something in there. Since I saw it I have thought about individual images from it…the film has a power and an atmosphere that I hadn’t expected.”
UK Film Review gave the movie five stars.
The review said: “There are no weak points when it comes to acting in this film. All members of the cast showcase jaw-dropping talent; I’m wary about using the word ‘perfect’ here but it’s somewhat rare to find a cast in its entirety that can mesmerise viewers as much as Lapwing has proved it can.
“The overall concept of Lapwing is one of heavy subject, if you were to just explain it briefly to someone you would create a ripple effect of sorrow painted across each listener’s face. However, without the power behind the acting, watching the events unravel for an hour and a half might not have created the same effect, showing the importance of finding the right people to fit these roles.
“Without the strength of emotional potency and the cast’s attention to detail in their roles, I feel like reactions to the events would fall flat into a pit of distress and not much more. It would ultimately prevent the audience from being able to understand where they fit into the empathetic connection (or apathetic, depending on which character you focus on) attached to the twisted and torn individuals of the story.”
The review also praised writer Laura and director Philip, adding: “Directly joining the conversation surrounding acting talent, it is obvious that director Philip Stevens was compatible with the cast in order to successfully present these characters in their best light, as well as deeply understanding the writing by Laura Turner and how the intensity of the script should be translated onscreen from a directorial perspective.
“All of these main elements of Lapwing flow together wonderfully, instinctively intertwining and helping the project to grow from its roots – just like that of a lapwing and its early symbolic meaning that it invokes the fertility, the rains and the health of flocks. Core elements of this nature in film carry themselves in the same way.”
The film was also reviewed on the Inside Total Film podcast.
Jack Shepherd said: “The cinematography I thought was the stand-out here, it looked fantastic.” And that the “coastlines are shot so well” in a “really beautiful movie”.
He also had high praise for the main character Patience, played by Hannah Douglas, adding: “She’s got basically no dialogue. She conveys a lot of emotion through her face and it’s very well done, it’s very impressive.”
Movie Reviews 101 described the film as “brutal and raw” and rated it as four stars.
The review was full of praise for the main characters, saying: “Hannah Douglas is brilliant in this leading role, her character goes through so much, where Hannah will make us feel the raw emotion she is going through.
“David is the leader of the group, he won’t let anyone go against him and runs a shady illegal operation to help people travel to Europe, showing this man will do anything to feel important in this world.
“Emmett J Scanlan gives us one of the worst humans we will see in film this year, his performance will make us hate him in everything scene. Lizzie is the sister that has been through the abuse that he has put her through.”
The Times rated the film as three stars, picking out its “bracing melodramatic force”.
Screenwriter Laura Turner and director Philip Stevens told The Lincolnite: “It’s been a really amazing and exciting journey since the film had its premiere and then released to select cinemas and on video on demand on November 26.
“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind, but just such a brilliant time of starting to introduce the film to audiences. We’ve loved having the opportunity to talk to audiences at the various Q&A special events we’ve done across the county and beyond, and we’ve got more of those coming up in the new year across the country.
“The complex themes of abuse, misogyny, xenophobia, coercive control and toxic masculinity are so integral to the piece, which makes it all the more important that we are having these conversations with audiences and getting the chance to find out their response to the film, and for them to ask us questions about how we developed the story, too.
“Gaining such incredible feedback, and positive reviews from national press, has been incredible for everyone involved and we feel so grateful that the film has been received with so much insightful conversation and thoughtful comments. We’re looking forward to continuing that journey in the coming weeks!”