Review | Secrets and God at the heart of ‘Nobody Has To Know’

Nobody Has To Know | Dir: Bouli Lanners | ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Phil (Bouli Lanners) is a middle-aged (possibly in his fifties) farm hand on a wind-swept Scottish island. His accent gives him away as being an outsider but after he suffers memory loss as the result of a stroke, it would seem that we are never to know why he has become exiled to that remote part of Scotland.

The owner of the estate’s daughter Millie (Michelle Fairly) is another outsider. Also middle-aged, she is still living at home, under the authoritarian rule for her father Angus (Julian Glover). She has been nicknamed ‘Ice Queen’ by the villagers who seem bound by values from two centuries ago and the hell-fire preachings of their church.

Even though she seems to run a business on the island, it is Millie who cares for Phil on his release from hospital. He asks her how he came to be living on the island and what his various tattoos mean and there is obvious chemistry between the two. She is wondering if it is possible, or if she should even consider rekindling their secret love affair they had had before his stroke, now that he has no memory of her.

The Belgian director Bouli Lanners, who also stars as Phil, has made sure that the isolation of the main characters is echoed by the stark greys of the landscape being tossed about by the continual wind and the relentless waves hammering the empty beach. Each location on the small island is postcard perfect.

By contrast, the pace of the action is slow and measured and the performances are nuanced. Millie reveals some unexpected twists to her nephew and the audience waits to see if the wrath of God, or the islanders, or possible just fate will end up destroying the tenuous security of her secret world she has constructed with this stranger.

Lezly Herbert

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