[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Buy&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B00I2VA8D8][/pullquote] Joanna Hogg’s third film, Exhibition is a study of domestic disquiet, of a relationship in some sort of unspoken meltdown that is never overtly expressed or discussed. Set in the context of middle class London life, it’s a world where interiors dominate whether it be the stunning minimalist home where most of the film takes place or the psychological trauma one of the main characters seems to be going through.
Former Slits singer Viv Albertine plays D and Turner Prize-nominated artist Liam Gillick is H, a Bohemian couple in a beautiful but stark home in a well-heeled part of the capital. D is a nervy performance artist who seems permanently on tenterhooks while H is a domineering architect who runs hot and cold emotionally. The film tracks their seemingly comfortable lifestyle – they don’t seem to do much in the way of work – and finds anxiety and frustration at their heart of their relationship. D ghosts around the elegant, angular environs, regularly seeking reassurance from H who only begrudgingly and occasionally gives it.
Communication has broken down between them; often they talk by intercom as they work in separate rooms.Some unspecified event from the past seems to be the problem, something traumatic it would seem, but this is never revealed let alone resolved.
On the face of it, Exhibition sounds like a mundane exercise in first world angst but it’s an engrossing film that draws you into the strange, repressed world of D and H.
They’re both thoroughly self-absorbed and not even particularly likable, but by placing us in the house with them Hogg ensures her film is an intimate, intense and often uncomfortable experience.
The naturalistic performances of Albertine and Gillick along with the remarkable sound editing (we hear car alarms, police sirens, pneumatic drills and disembodied voices off screen) makes Exhibition seem everyday and somehow nightmarish at the same time
The plot, what there is of it, involves D and H planning to sell the house (for a reason that’s never made clear) despite having lived there for many years. Tom Hiddleston appears in a cameo as an estate agent and we get to meet some of the couple’s friends, but really this is the story of D and H, their habits and behaviour, the way they are with each other.