Alissa Simon

Variety, Sunday 18th May 2008

Boasting 18 characters and half as many storylines, noted British photographer and visual artist Duane Hopkins follows his prize-winning shorts with visually distinctive first feature Better Things. Beautifully shot with cast of eye-catching non-pros…The assorted storylines centre on adolescents, twentysomethings and the elderly, with middle generation near absent. All feature problems of communication and a struggle for intimacy. Unable to cope with modern life or accept love, some of the youths resort to dangerous behaviours. The elderly also have frustrations that mar their relationships. Evoking memories of early work by Alan Clarke or Lynne Ramsay, as well as Nan Goldin’s ‘Ballad of Sexual Dependency,’ pic gives a special twist to UK tradition of social realism by juxtaposing the natural and the constructed. Sharp tech package combines glowing and gritty.

Source | Variety

Jonathan Romney

The Independent, Sunday 18th May 2008

…Also on show, in the Critics’ Week sidebar, is another British discovery, debut film Better Things by Duane Hopkins. A fluid, episodic ensemble piece, it’s about a group of young people – and a few old ones – living in the Cotswolds. The drama takes place in the wake of a young woman’s heroine overdose, and most of the young characters are past or present users. Austere in the extreme, Better Things is shot in a vein (perhaps ‘vein’ isn’t the best word) of poetic realism, Hopkins displaying an intuitive knack for stitching together allusive chains of images. It’s certainly fated to be dismissed by some as the latest chapter in British miserabilism, but Hopkins is a director with an introspective subtlety uncommon in UK filmmaking. Better Things proves the Brits can make Beligan art films as well as anyone – and I hope you realise that’s a compliment.

Source | The Independent