The Library Suicides

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The Library Suicides

It isn’t often that I get the chance to visit the cinema and watch a feature length Welsh language movie. The recent success of the television series Hinterland featuring Richard Harrington is a reminder that Wales can produce great drama. And the Library Suicides is in the same Scandi noir tradition of character driven thrillers. It is based on Y Llyfrgell  the Welsh language novel  by Fflur Dafydd. The plot centres on twins whose mother, a celebrated novelist, has committed suicide. Her dying breath implicates another academic that both daughters determine should be killed.

Catrin Stewart, who plays both girls, is quite outstanding in her portrayal of both sisters and during the film we gradually learn from her nuanced portrayal of the differences between both women. The plot takes place almost exclusively in the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth which adds a layer of academic interest/gloss to a story that is essentially about the sister’s mother. We learn from the gradual unfolding of events that the memory of her two daughters about their own family is unreliable. Subtle hints suggest the complexity of the family background.

But the story is not all academic as a caretaker, recently released from prison and on probation, provides the love interest for one of the daughters. The limited cast make unexpected twists and turns unlikely but that doesn’t limit the sense of tension that the director, Euros Lyn of Broadchurch fame, and the writer achieve. We talk of novels having rushed ending and oddly I found the beginning of the film a little rushed. More time could have perhaps been taken to build a little more of the world in which Ana and Nan lived.

The Library Suicides challenge us think about our memories and what is really valuable in family and relationships. I know that Netflix has already picked up Hinterland which is received a lot of favourable reviews in US and I hope that American audiences will get to appreciate The Library Suicides very shortly. It really is not to be missed.