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by Jay Seaver

"A nicely haunting little ghost story."
4 stars

What is a ghost? Potentially anything a writer wants, but probably the strongest way to use this particular bit of supernatural lore is as the past personified, with the question being how that can affect the living and the present. Writer/director Axelle Carolyn zeroes in on that idea with "Soulmate", and playing it out makes for an interesting story.

It's one that starts with a suicide attempt, a young musician who has been recently been widowed. When next we see Audrey (Anna Walton), she is renting an old house some miles away from any neighbors in Wales, complete with a room that caretaker Theresa Zellaby (Tanya Myers) and her husband (Nick Brimble) say cannot be opened. So those noises Audrey thinks she's hearing would seem seem to be coming from somewhere else - at least, until she finds Douglas (Tom Wisdom) in the sitting room.

It's a while before Douglas makes his first appearances, giving the viewer some time to get familiar with Audrey, and Carolyn and actress Anna Walton handle that introduction well. Without many words devoted to explaining herself, they show her sadness and difficulty in knowing just what to do next, and often the way she goes about trying to minimize the bandages on her wrists or seems stymied trying to arrange some music is just as telling as her doing it. Even more impressively, there is at least a hint of something other than depression from the start, so that the process of her possibly emerging from her shell as the film goes on feels quite genuine.

Tom Wisdom does something similar, if compacted; it's a while before Douglas turns up, although his first appearance is nicely jarring. Wisdom then manages to make the man unnerving without necessarily feeling threatening, which is important, since the rapport that develops between Audrey and Douglas needs to feel a little bit odd even when there aren't obvious visual or conversational reminders that theirs is an unusual relationship. At the same time, it can't be constantly setting off alarms, either. It's a unique chemistry they manage, seeming to come back to life together.

It's a simple premise, and I like how Carolyn doesn't do too much to complicate it. She mostly builds up backstory in plain sight, rather than out of comments whose true import will only be recognized later. That Audrey did something horribly rash at the start never had to be even an implied excuse for her failing to ask obvious questions, and her curiosity is quite appealing. Carolyn also builds up the idea of ghosts as the past given form, showing how one's dwelling upon what came before only strengthens it, but without Carolyn actually making it a specific part of the film's world.

Eventually, things take a turn toward a less introspective sort of supernatural thriller, and does that well enough. It's still a nifty little ghost story all told, not revolutionary, but very nicely executed.

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originally posted: 01/07/15 14:00:38
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  DVD: 28-Oct-2014

  N/A (15)
  DVD: 11-Aug-2014


Directed by
  Axelle Carolyn

Written by
  Axelle Carolyn

  Anna Walton
  Tom Wisdom
  Tanya Myers
  Nick Brimble
  Emma Cleasby

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