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Stars: Siobhan Finneran, Molly Wright, Sacha Parkinson, Robert Emms, James Quinn, James Foster, Clare McGlinn, Claire Hackett, Poppy Jhakra

Director: Daniel Kokotajlo

I admit it - given the heavy cost of moviegoing these day, I am not exactly ecstatic when I see the letters BBC and BFI in the opening credits of a film since they mean you have already paid twice even if you never get to see the movie until it lands up on television, the BBC having spent your licence money making the film, while BFI indicates your lottery money had helped fund the picture.

So all credit to writer-director Kakotajlo and his players for one of the most powerful and thought-provoking British dramas I have seen in a long while, a movie that makes its emotional impact through strong screenwriting, direction and perfect performances from a cast chosen because they can act rather than simply because they are well known.

Ivanna (Finneran) has brought up her daughters Alex (Wright) and Luisa (Parkinson) as devout Jehovah's Witnesses in a northern British town.
'Good Witness' Alex is learning to speak Urdu to spread the message while, unlike her, college student Luisa who, rating to question the message of the Elders, falls pregnant, is expelled from the congregation, shunned by her mother and leaves home.

In the meantime, Alex who suffers from anaemia (which has already led to her having a 'forbidden' blood transfusion) becomes more ill, leading to yet another heart-breaking test of their faith for the family...

Says former Jehovah's Witness Kakotajlo 'I was harbouring doubts since I went to college. I realised that people at college were interested in your opinion. That was a new concept to me because being a Witness it was always about the text, group-think, it wasn't about encouraging independent thought'.

And he makes his points powerfully here without, impressively, resorting to either unnecessary melodrama in either narrative or key performances.

The latter, in particular, are picture-perfect. Finneran, Wright and Parkinson are perfectly cast and perfectly played; Emms does what is required of him as the new congregation member who falls for Alex.

While it's an often emotionally painful experience, Apostasy delivers a impressively potent, emotionally moving and unexpectedly informative story.

Alan Frank

UK 2018. UK Distributor: Curzon Artificial Eye. Colour.
95 minutes. Not widescren. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 29 Jul 2018