Haunting drama portraying the ecstasy and nihilism of youth in Bridgend, a Welsh town that has been rocked by its real-life epidemic of teen suicides

Film Review by Ross McIndoe | 07 Mar 2016
Film title: Bridgend
Director: Jeppe Rønde
Starring: Hannah Murray, Josh O'Connor, Adrian Rawlins

Between 2007 and 2012, there were over 79 suicides in the Welsh town of Bridgend. Most of the victims were teenagers, many of them knew each other. All hanged themselves and none left notes. No clear cause has ever been uncovered and the suicides continue to this day.

Having previously worked as a documentary maker, Jeppe Rønde chose instead to tell this story in fiction, capturing the sense of how something like this might have happened rather than looking for any concrete explanation. It’s a subject that could easily have been exploited for its tragic allure or demonised as many of the tabloids who covered it did, but Rønde handles it with conscience and care, allowing the story to be neither cheaply romanticised nor judgementally damned.

His atmospheric, haunting film portrays a group of lost young people tearing madly at life, veering between wild ecstasy and violent nihilism as they hurl themselves after something unclear, elusive and vital – something which the old authority of parents, church and school can’t provide them. Watching them push ever closer to the edge and further into the darkness is tragic and, at times, utterly beautiful.

Bridgend screened at Glasgow Film Festival.

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