Gazeta Wyborcza Review, Poland

September 2008

Filmmakers usually lie about youth. They show it as a time of sweet initiation, innocent consumption, irrelevant quarrels with parents. Beautiful boys and girls are full of energy and convinced that things will be alright. But attached to the innocent play and the broad smile, there is an arresting leash - an instrument in conservative training that will adjust a young person to the line of this life, in which all aims are prescribed from the outset.

The British director Duane Hopkins refuses to play this cynical game. He is not attempting here to persuade the young that he knows which way to go. In his film he is cruel, similarly in some ways to the cruelty found in the work of Ulrich Seidl. But he is truthful.As the film opens your senses are attacked by a hyperrealist sound of the trees. Suddenly it stops. Silence. Then a resigned female voice announces: “Nothing. Real life was difficult, at best”. The characters of “Betters Things,” apathetic and pale, look like the living dead. The stocky Gail has completely cut herself off from the world, spending her time eating, smoking, making tea for her nan. David, John and Rob drive an old Escort, stuff themselves with hard drugs and play console games. Sometimes sprawled on sofas and absent, they spew out incomplete bits of messages. They have been blocked for so long, they now seem scared of any feelings.

It is worth noting that middle-aged adults are practically absent from the film. In the background there are only old, ill people who live as if able to demonstrate to all what the meaning is of atrophy and alienation. 

This torture is not set in any modern neon landscape, but amongst the hills, trees and meadows of the rural Cotswolds, in a small town, seemingly forgotten by the world. There are thousands of these hidden towns around the world – usually nobody pays them any attention.Hopkins’ film consciously eschews a clear storyline – it is rather a collection of hypnotic scenes. The director likes most to study faces and nature. Is one’s mood improved in the watching of this film? Not really. But if someone wants better to understand what the notion of “hollow people” means, they should look into the eyes of these characters. Watching “Better Things” you really feel you are falling…

Jakub Socha

Source | Gazeta Wyborcza

Article in Barcelona.Unlike (online)

December 2008

British filmmaker Duane Hopkins, who won the EIFF award for Best British Short 2003 with Leave Me Alone, makes his full feature debut with his greatly anticipated Better Things.Through straight to the heart, hard-hitting stories of fractured relationships filmed with stunning landscape photography, this drama shows the power of love to transform life.

Source | Barcelona.Unlike