Wednesday, 1 July 2015


Image result for exhibition film review

Exhibition is a British film from last year [2014] starring non-actors and directed by a woman called Joanna Hogg and seems generally to have received reviews ranging from 3 to 5 stars.

It’s about a couple probably in their early forties, living in what looks to me like north-west London but the Independent says is west London, in a probably late-seventies detached modern house and follows their activities for a few months while they put the house on the market. There isn’t a story as such; IMDB summarises it as an intimate examination of a contemporary artist couple, whose living and working patterns are threatened by the imminent sale of their home. That is a fair description.

What do I think? I thought it was fairly absorbing but would be of more interest to women. When I did my play-writing course, we were told in the strongest terms not to write about middle-class angst . . . which of course I do all the time in my novels. Exhibition is more or less entirely about middle-class angst. A childless couple; he is an artist we are told and we see him at home creating art on his laptop. She calls herself an artist, a performance artist but she could equally call herself well, anything: a writer or a teacher, perhaps or just a creative person. We call ourselves what we want: journalist; hairdresser; roofer; magistrate even if we only dabble in these activities. Clearly however she wants to be defined as an artist, so that’s what she chooses to call herself. Calling herself  woman or  wife is obviously insufficient.
I’ve known people like this and been in houses like this; helped to build houses like this in places like this. If you haven’t, they will appear more esoteric in this film than they are in real life. Hogg definitely knows what makes them tick; terrified of strangers being numero one-o. Every external aperture is secured and locked and there is shot after shot of them . . . her in particular . . . looking out on the world through the large windows. 

So Hogg has painted her canvas and illuminated the situation; well-off childless couple, who appear at least to have no need to ever leave their luxurious home and asks the question: what do they do with themselves all day and all night? Eat? Sleep? Yes, to both. Watch telly? No. Listen to music? No. Because Hogg wants to show unfulfilled lives. And she achieves that.

Do we care? That’s what lay behind my tutor’s warning about not writing about middle-class angst.

 Nobody cares.

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