Translations, directed by Keith Kop, has texture, nuance and hinterland to turn a love story that is confined by four walls into something that touches on shared experiences, lost history and a tentative, delicate future.
Agoraphobic translator Steph (Kate Morgan-Jones) hasn’t left her house in years. She is kept in place by the trauma of her brother’s death and a looming fear of outside. She pulls on other people’s lives with her Welsh / English translation service.
Steph’s pootling about within her barriers is invaded by Evan (Alan Emrys) – her dead brother Liam’s best friend – who turns up with Liam’s journal and a bagful of memories and exotic stories. The proximity of the shared experiences brings them together and lines are crossed as the romance sparks.
But this is more than a romance – or rather it unleashes the kind of soul-searching that romantic vulnerability can lead to. In effect, it’s almost like a coming of age, or a coming of re-age as the shifting sands that life throws up need constant re-evaluation and re-presentation. The script doesn’t give much away and you’re invited to hang on to each interaction and every movement. Morgan-Jones’s quiet surface has storms going on underneath. These are countered by Emrys, who has a different frequency of despair.
Key to the film’s thoughtful charm is its embracing tenderness. And there’s a gentleness to the black-and-white handheld, fly-on-the-wall shooting. Director Kopp focuses on the quiet resolution and steely nature of Steph rather than dwelling on the sharp edges of her situation.
Ears, mind and heart
As you would expect from the title, Translations has you musing on language – how to share that culture and experience of your own world to someone else’s ears, mind and heart. And within that, the elements of Welsh in the film has a powerful presence, pointing to creativity, culture and what that means for you yourself and for you with others.
Emphatically tender, Translations is surprising, warm, intriguing and hopeful.
Translations is going on a summer tour. Check it out at these venues
Cambridge University Film Association – 20 May
Brynamman Public Hall Cinema (Ammanford, Wales) – 2 June
Saltford Community Cinema (Somerset) 9th June
The Ucheldre Centre (Holyhead, Wales) – 9,11,14 June
Rich Mix Cinema (London) – 14 June
Y Ffwrnes (Llanelli, Wales) – 20 June
Phoenix Cinema (London) – 22 June
The Little Theatre (Bath) – 25 June
Fairfield Flicks (Worcestershire) – 28 June
The Block Cinema (Manchester) – 29 June
Melksham Film Club (Wiltshire) – 30 June
Wells Maltings – 21 July
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