Matthew R Ford
Matthew R Ford
The many forms and reactions of abuse, and mental illness caused by abuse, is simply mind boggling. More so than the abuse itself. The motives and mind set of the abuser can usually be explained. They themselves are insecure. They themselves want something a clean minded person would never give or allow. Or, one of the most common reasons for abuse - power. It's all about the power the abuser can claim over the victim. Whether physical abuse is needed to get what they want, as mainly demonstrated in this film - or a mental dependency is needed to reach their goal. No matter how you slice it however, abuse has always been there. Usually hiding just under the surface.
"Safely To Shore" does show us some physical elements, but mainly tackles the effects of abuse on the mind. Much harder to show visually. It focuses on two woman. One that we see being abused, and the other we suspect to have been. This is how it all starts anyhow, before getting into the really psychological stuff. We meet a prostitute who clearly does not want to be where she is... and who could blame her? She's introduced as a woman who uses self harm in an attempt to level herself off. Very quickly however, we learn that her cutting is the least of her concerns physically. She is, and had been beaten and worn down by her pimp.
The other girl featured in this film, at first seems much softer. Much less abused physically, but clearly more so mentally. She's found in the woods and taken in. The couple who find her are not quite sure what to do with her, but clearly can't just leave her outside half naked in the cold. We are also introduced to someone who is possibly a friend to the prostitute. He urges her to just get the hell out - and after a violent incident, they do just that. Or do they? As I wrote above, "Safely To Shore" is about how one deals with abuse. This includes the mental side effects.
"Safely To Shore" has an excellent feel to it. Both visually and atmospherically. If I were to compare how this movie feels, it would be very similar to "Se7en" from David Fincher. It's all very tight and claustrophobic. The very design of the film, it seems, was thought up to keep the viewer on edge. It works - and works well. Awkward silences complement this general feeling of despair and without question, "Safely To Shore" is grim to say the least. This atmosphere also happens to be where this movie earns most of it's stars. Definitely no shame in that.
Matthew R. Ford's film also happens to be acted out quite nicely by the cast, but not in the usual way. The performances all seem geared towards that dreary atmosphere I wrote about above. It all works so damned well. Even when things end up being a little confusing, that sick feeling you get while watching, definitely makes up for it. And yes reader, "Safely To Shore" is a little hard to follow exactly. It's one of those movies that makes me think I understood just what went on... but couldn't be one hundred percent sure.
One thing that is clear with this movie? The general message. This film really makes you wonder, and tackles the effects of abuse quite smartly. Even if ending up a little confused, one could argue that a victim of abuse, feels that way all the time. Confusion aside, the overall idea is loud and clear. But where "Safely To Shore" really shined was definitely the atmosphere. It made me uneasy and very tense all through. Waiting for something to happen the entire time. This is a feeling very few movies can get right and for that alone, a solid four stars all the way.