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Black Medicine


Stars: Antonia Campbell-Hughes, Amybeth McNulty, Orla Brady, Desmond Eastwood, John Connors, Shashi Rami, Beccy Henderson

Director: Colum Eastwood

A cracking Northern Irish suspense thriller that provides edge-of-seat moments almost non-stop, but especially in a nerve-crunching operation sequence at he end.

It seems that the film's main flaw may lie in its main protagonist being an unsympathetic character. But director Eastwood, a talent to watch, soon puts paid to our doubts, as we met Jo (Campbell-Hughes), a struck-off, cocaine-sniffing doctor contemplating suicide after her life has disintegrated following the death of her 13-year-old daughter from meningitis.

A phone call at the crucial moment prevents her self-destruction and sends her scurrying to the home of her employer, crime boss Bernadette Murphy (Brady), where she's primed for her latest illegal operation. Leaving, she finds a stowaway (McNulty) in her car, an escapee from the Murphy mansion, where she had gone (and was later held) to sell a kidney for Murphy's sick daughter (Henderson) - but changed her mind.

But Madame Murphy, with Brady giving Lady Macbeth a run for her money, has something more sinister up her sleeve.

Jo, sensing it, tries to get her estranged husband (Eastwood) to run the girl to England in his boat.

With director Eastwood cranking up the tension to an almost unbearable level, this leanest and most muscular of thrillers, coming in at a tightly-wound 88 minutes, scarcely has a shred of wasted footage. Campbell-Hughes gives a brilliant, tautly-string performance as our anti-heroine. riveting in her increasing desperation throughout.

How can she possibly turn the tables on the bad guys? Your fingernails will get a merciless going-over as you gloss over a few improbabilities and wait for the outcome, gripped by this much-watch movie throughout.

On major digital platforms

David Quinlan

UK (Northern Ireland) 2020. UK Distributor: Signature. Colour (unspecified).
88 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 11 Jul 2021