She Will is the feature film debut of director Charlotte Colbert and as such, it’s remarkably confident and assured.
Truth is often more horrifying than fiction, especially in our era – when the news is dominated by war, violence and abuse – it’s hard to stop yourself from endlessly doom scrolling.
With fiction however, you’re often awarded catharsis, a release of sorts. And She Will, Charlotte Colbert’s directorial debut, feels particularly poignant and cathartic in how it explores trauma and history of abuse.
Alice Krige stars as Veronica Ghent, an ageing movie star who has just undergone a double mastectomy. She retreats to a Scottish facility to recover in peace with her nurse Desi (Kota Eberhardt) but soon discovers something is allowing her to seek revenge in her dreams.
See, Veronica was abused as a minor by film director Hathbourne (Malcolm McDowell, who proves in this film that he’s still got it) and while the media reports how she has aged, they also glorify him. The trigger for Veronica’s need for revenge seems to be that Hathbourne is about to recast her role in a remake of the film they did together.
If She Will sounds like it has been hand-crafted to fit our #MeToo laced times, it has, but that doesn’t make it any less powerful. There is much to admire in She Will, but its greatest strength is Krige who is phenomenal as a woman scorned who yearns for revenge and to stop the cycle of abuse.
While Krige is fantastic, giving her a run for her money is Eberhardt. She brings a warm and inviting presence to the film that otherwise often feels cold. Perhaps this is on purpose; Colbert makes the most out of her location to create haunting and visceral images that burrow themselves under your skin and stay there for a long time after the credits have rolled. This is all aided by Clint Mansell’s hypnotic score.
Colbert, a former artist turned filmmaker, directs She Will with an unshakeable vision. Nothing in She Will reveals that Colbert is new to directing, as the film flows effortlessly and with purpose. Although She Will is never quite a full-bloodied horror film, it’s undeniably creepy and unsettling. Colbert’s artist background shows strongly in scenes where Veronica is dreaming, they’re disturbing, yet beautiful.
The film speaks directly of female power and more specifically about regaining it. To frame the story from the viewpoint of Veronica, a woman of a certain age who desperately attempts to hide her age with makeup in the hopes that no one notices how her skin has started to sag or how new lines are forming each and every day, is brave and necessary.
There is also a playful element to She Will. Rupert Everett plays a flamboyant, pretentious artist with an even worse group of followers, all of whom are also residing at the facility, much to Veronica’s chagrin. It doesn’t bring much to the film; the narrative seems to stand still whenever Everett is on screen, although he is clearly having a blast with the character.
She Will is at its best when Colbert stays focused on Veronica’s experiences and how she regains her agency. For a long time, She Will is seemingly about the horrors of growing old and having your body fail you, but it’s also about appreciating everything your body, especially as a woman, has gone through and how much power it holds.
She Will is in UK cinemas July 22.