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‘Cordelia’ review: Tight psychological thriller fades away

The acting is strong the whole way through.

Cordelia is a twisting story that follows the title character (Antonia Campbell-Hughes) and her twin sister Caroline (Campbell-Hughes in a dual role). When Caroline leaves to have a romantic weekend with her boyfriend, Cordelia is left home alone. When she meets her neighbor Frank (Johnny Flynn), she becomes suspicious of his motives. This leads to distrust and a revisiting of past traumas.

Most stories that deal with paranoia end up taking on a lot by default. Reality becomes a blur, which can make the story difficult to follow. That is often the case here as Cordelia knows what it wants to tackle, but never seems quite sure how to go about it. The movie deals with a real life incident and the fallout from it. (The film premiered in London in 2019, which is important to the plot.) The story is a personal one that implies the actual tragedy instead of outright discussing it.

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Instead, Cordelia explores its main character in depth. This is done through great cinematography and engrossing storytelling. This works extremally well for the first two acts. Director Adrian Shergold works well with light and shadows bringing an almost suffocating vibe. An air of distrust weighs down the film (in a good way) and there is a strong build to what is sure to be a satisfying payoff.

Campbell-Hughes does a magnificent job and somehow manages to bring an air of confidence to a character who is not quite sure exactly what is happening. Since she had a hand in writing the script, she would obviously have some familiarity with the character. Still the degree to which she is able to step into the character stands out. The pacing and writing develop a fascinating character.

Unfortunately, the final act does not deliver in the way it should. The lead up is great and there is something to get out of the actual moment, but it does not provide the impact that it should. After a well constructed first hour, things feel rushed in the final thirty minutes. Even worse, Cordelia just ends. It is shocking in the wrong way and goes against everything that has been done up until then. Thankfully, the acting remains strong the whole way.

Cordelia comes to VOD/Digital July 5

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