(director: Sam Yates; screenwriter: Tom Bateman; cinematographer: Laura Bellingham; editor: Christopher Watson; music: Isobel Waller-Bridge; cast: Daisy Ridley (Annette), Shazad Latif (Ben), Matilda Lutz (Alicia), Hiba Ahmed (Matilda), Cherelle Skeete (Emily), Pippa Bennett-Warner (Esther), Alistair Petrie (Richard); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Kate Solomon, Daisy Ridley, Tom Bateman, Camilla Bray, Nadia Khamlichi, Sierra Garcia.; A Werewolf Films; 2024)

“Left me feeling empty.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A battle of the sexes twisty domestic revenge film that is eerily directed by Sam Yates, in his debut, and written in a prickly way by Tom Bateman, the former actor and husband of the film’s star, Daisy Ridley.

The slow-burn bad marriage drama is set in the woodland English countryside, just outside London.

Annette (Daisy Ridley) is the long-suffering British wife of her neglectful and loathsome British Indian husband Ben (Shazad Latif), the struggling writer who is currently experiencing writer’s block. She gave up her career as a publishing agent to take care of the house-hold for an ungrateful, womanizing and despicable husband, and now hates him so much she’s capable of doing anything to harm him.

The film centers around a period movie being shot near their glass-framed home, that stars the glamorous but scandalous Italian actress Alicia (Matilda Lutz). The couple’s 8-year-old daughter Matilda (Hiba Ahmed) has been cast in a supporting role, playing the daughter to the star. And, as expected, Ben makes a play for the actress, as he drives Matilda to the set and flirts with the receptive actress. The question becomes as to how a seething Annette will react, who stays home to care for the couple’s always crying new-born infant.

Feeling pressured and lonely by the bad marriage, we see an uptight Annette, while on meds, stare into a mirror and shatter it with her hand or in anger shatter her cell phone by slamming it on the counter.

Annette seems to be a composite of every wronged woman. What she ever saw in Ben that made her marry him is never broached.
Meanwhile, we’re asked to hang on until the third act to see how she will get back at her piggish husband.

The script is tight, Ridley gives a superb performance and the villain can be enjoyed for being such a turd, but Magpie’s cold narrative left me feeling empty.

It played at SXSW.

REVIEWED ON 3/12/2024  GRADE: C+