Review in The Skinny, 4/5 Stars

January 2009

The cynic might argue that the British film industry appears to have been kept afloat in recent decades on a raft of social realism. And while directors such as Ken Loach and Mike Leigh have carved successful careers through their naturalistic portrayals of working-class British life, it’s refreshing to come across a more experimental visual approach to similar subject matter. In Better Things Duane Hopkins has created an unembellished, carefully crafted depiction of rural drug-addiction in the Cotswolds. His fragmentary approach to narrative gives the viewer a series of insights into the lives of both the young and old. The frequent use of stationary camera shots and measured pacing invoke a sense of confinement, futility and desolation. What lingers is the heavy atmosphere, a testament to this unique and affecting debut. This is far removed from such works as Happy-Go-Lucky, in tone, structure and aesthetic, and an exciting departure for British film.

Gail Tolley

Source | The Skinny

Article on Queen’s Film Theatre Website

December 2008

Writer-director Duane Hopkins brings a poetic realism to his study of people at the fringes of adulthood in his debut feature set in the Costwolds: youngsters trying to manage the vicissitudes of love whilst filling their days with cheap drugs to combat their boredom; elderly folk facing the bafflement brought by old age.With singular vision, Hopkins is unflinching in building a mood of desolation, but this is no one-dimensional exercise in cinematic miserabilism. There is beauty in its restraint, and an agonising empathy. Better Things is auteur filmmaking at its best.

Source | Queen's Film Theatre

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