The Devon countryside, where his family has just moved, is a lonely place for troubled fifteen-year-old Tom (FREDDIE CUNLIFFE). Bored, depressed and missing his friends in London, he kills time during the Easter break with his seventeen-year-old sister Jessie (LARA BELMONT), while his father (RAY WINSTONE) reorganises his business from the countryside and his mother (TILDA SWINTON) awaits the birth of a third child.

When she goes into labour, the family take off for the hospital but on the way the car crashes and the baby is born in the dark country road. Despite the trauma of the arrival, the family are brought together by the happy event and things return to normal. But one evening, as Tom returns home from a shopping trip with his mother, he sees something that suggests a terrifying secret that binds his father and Jessie.

Tom confronts Jessie but his accusations are met with outright denial. His confusion is heightened by the calm happiness that pervades the family with the new arrival: his mother is tired but elated, his father's paternal feelings are rekindled and Jessie appears happy at the prospect of starting college in London. Jessie also is amused by her little brother's growing interest in the family's friend Lucy (KATE ASHFIELD).

Tom remains confused by his sister's behaviour and retreats into moody silence which his mother attributes to adolescent jealousy of his new baby sister. One evening at the local pub, Jessie meets up with local boy Nick and they go off to the beach together, with Tom in tow. Jessie and Nick disappear among the dunes, leaving Tom alone and isolated on the beach.

Tom is unable to let his suspicions subside. One evening while at home with his parents, the phone rings but cuts off before anyone can answer it. His father suddenly goes out. Desperate to prove that his suspicions were based on fact, Tom follows and, in an isolated bunker on the edge of the sea, he witnesses a scene that shocks him to the core.

Jessie's strength begins to crumble. Desperate to put an end to Tom's mission to expose the turth, she introduces him to the one person in whom she has confided, Carol (AISLING O'SULLIVAN), who agrees to satisfy Tom's sexual curiosity. But Jessie puts a stop to the tryst.

Soon after, baby Alice falls ill and is rushed to hospital. Late that evening, Tom returns to the hospital and he warns his mother to keep the baby away from his father. Back home, he finds Jessie sobbing at the kitchen table and his father raging with anger at his son's accusations which he continues to deny. Tom decides that he must act to end the horror that otherwise will destroy everyone and everything he loves.

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Tim Roth

Written by: Alexander Stuart

Produced by: Sarah Radclyffe, Dixie Linder

Cinematography: Seamus McGarvey

Editing: Trevor Waite

Production Design: Michael Carlin

Costume Design: Mary-Jane Reyner

Make-Up & Hair: Ivana Primorac

Original Score: Simon Boswell

Cast: Colin Farrell, Kate Ashfield, Freddie Cunliffe, Ray Winstone, Aisling O'Sullivan, Lara Belmont, Megan Thorp, Annabelle Apsion, Kim Wall, Tilda Swinton

Nominations and Awards

  • European Discovery - Prix Fipresci 1999
  • European Film 1999
  • European Actor 1999
  • Feature Film Selection 1999