Retreat Carl Tibbetts

Retreat Carl Tibbetts
Retreat is one of many examples of fine British genre cinema to hit the festival circuit over the last few years. It's a shame it didn't receive a wide release in North American theatres, as it's an intense, atmospheric journey. Still, it's certainly worth seeing on DVD. The claustrophobia takes hold slowly but surely right from the setup. Cillian Murphy and Thandie Newton play an urban couple at their remote island retreat off the coast of Scotland. Personal tragedy has driven them there in an attempt to renew their relationship, but the palpable tension between them is exacerbated when their CB radio dies, cutting off communication with the mainland. Worse trouble comes in the form of a mystery man (Jamie Bell), who's discovered on the island in soldier garb. He awakes with a frightening story to tell: a virus is decimating the planet and the only way to prevent its onset on the island is for all three to seal themselves inside the house. Retreat is reminiscent of early Polanski films like Knife in the Water, with its ambiguous outsider intruding on a fraught family situation, and it more than holds up under comparison, for it is a small triumph of acting and directing. The narrative maintains its vicelike grip right through to the bleak, devastating conclusion, and full credit for that goes to Tibbetts, not just for the impeccable staging and the taut, subtle writing, but for his acumen with actors. Murphy, Newton and Bell carry their respective roles with grace, depth and precision; they make you care deeply about them and their plight, film resonating long after it finishes. One of the best thrillers of recent memory, Tibbetts is clearly a director to watch. Extras consist of a photo gallery and a making-of featurette, in which Tibbetts cites the fog around the Iraq war as a key influence on his script. (Sony)