The Reckoning (2020)

The Reckoning
Director: Neil Marshall
Writer: Edward Evers-Swindell, Charlotte Kirk, Neil Marshall
Cast: Charlotte Kirk, Joe Anderson, Sean Pertwee, Ian Whyte, Steven Waddington, Rick Warden, Emma Holzer, Mark Ryan
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 27.9.2020
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Content Note: suicide, (critical treatment of) misogyny

Plot:
1665. Grace (Charlotte Kirk) are happily married to Joseph (Joe Anderson) and they have a beautiful baby. Even though their life is hard, they are doing pretty well. Until Joseph catches the plague. Fearing that he will condemn his wife and child to death as well, he commits suicide. Grace struggles to pay rent and when she also declines to sleep with her landlord to make up for the lost payment, he (Steven Waddington) accuses her of witchcraft instead. Grace is imprisoned and has to face the famous witch hunter Moorcroft (Sean Pertwee) in a battle for her life.

The Reckoning really did not work for me and that despite the fact that it was obviously oriented towards feminism (even though it doesn’t quite hit the mark here). It was exhausting any way too long.

The film poster showing a leafless tree silhouetted against the night sky, a rope can be seen hanging from it.

The main story in The Reckoning takes place over five days and it feels almost as long. It doesn’t help things either that on four of those five days, the sun never seems to rise and everything is dark. Who wants to see anything in a film anyway, am I right?

That the film tries to take on the misogyny of the witch hunts in the 17th century is admirable, but it undermines its own mission somewhat by having Grace (in my notes I jotted down her name as Claire? I don’t know if the info on imdb is wrong or mine, or if they changed her name from thinly veiled symbol to another) be everything that is good, and holy, and beautiful, and she never makes any mistake or even slightly wrong decision. I assume the idea was to show that the best of women could be accused of witchcraft and that nobody is saved, but “the best of women” doesn’t exist and I would have much rather watched a film about a woman, period.

Grace (Charlotte Kirk) bound to a cross, with an iron mask that muzzles her.

I’m not a historian and usually things that are ahistorical not only go straight over my head, I mostly don’t care that they are there in the first place. I say this that you get an inkling of how little the film managed to draw me because afterwards I literally sought out my friend who is a historian to ask her whether it’s my lack of historical knowledge that tripped me up or whether the film’s handle on history is so bad. But dammit, why does this poor farmer family not only know how to read and write, but have plenty of paper to write each other letters? How are they so very poor but also own a horse and a musket? (Not to mention that Grace always has flawless make-up and hair.) And the answer whether that’s historically correct isn’t as important as the fact here that I didn’t believe the film about anything. Not even for a second. And that’s a problem to say the least.

In short, the film did not work at all for me, and I probably would have been better off going home to sleep instead of watching it.

A dishevelled Grace (Charlotte Kirk) looking towards heaven.

Summarizing: Skip it.

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