Tamara Lawrance Endures a Gaslighting Mother-in-Law from Hell in the Terrifically Disturbing ‘Kindred’
Mike Marsland/GettyWhen shooting the film Kindred—directed and co-written by Joe Marcantonio and available on demand November 6—London native Tamara Lawrance found herself mostly alone in Ireland, shuttling between the cottage where she was staying and set. That isolation had resonances with her role in the film as Charlotte, a young woman who has made plans with her live-in boyfriend, Ben, to move to Australia, leaving behind his staid, upper class family and their frigid castle for a “fresh start” in the outback. Unfortunately, the escape plan does not hatch; Charlotte gets pregnant and Ben is killed in an accident. Instead of heading to Australia, the young woman is kept confined to her dead boyfriend’s mother Margaret’s home, along with Margaret’s overly friendly beta stepson, Thomas. A disturbing psychological game ensues: by insisting on her freedom, is reluctant mother-to-be Charlotte endangering the health of the baby? Or are her cold, wealthy keepers holding her hostage, using her own mother’s troubled past as justification to detain her?Lawrance’s work as Charlotte in the film is at turns quiet and eruptive; playing against the legendary Fiona Shaw’s Margaret, a darkly possessive and grief stricken matriarch, Lawrance carves out a space for her own character’s mystery. We know that Charlotte’s mother was herself not up to the work of being a mother due to mental illness. When Charlotte finds out she’s pregnant herself, her first instinct is to have an abortion; yet the posh doctor she sees is discouraging and pushes her to embrace motherhood—we find out later that he tells Ben’s family about the pregnancy before she gets the chance to tell Ben. Charlotte responds with small rebellions—chugging a glass of wine here, taking a few puffs of a cigarette there. No one, however, seems to be interested in what she wants for herself; not even Ben, whose excitement over fatherhood distracts him from Charlotte’s trouble.Lawrance, who also appears in Steve McQueen’s upcoming Small Axe trilogy, was encouraged to audition for the role—her first leading one on screen—by her friend Jack Lowden, who plays Thomas. She and Lowden, who also produced Kindred, had already appeared together in the television adaptation of Andrea Levy’s The Long Song, about a formerly enslaved Jamaican woman’s recollections of her life on a sugarcane plantation. This new collaboration, however, would have a different thrust. “What I really liked about the Kindred script is that Charlotte wasn’t racialized as Black,” Lawrance told me over Zoom, “which means there’s a chance for the audience to empathize with what’s happening without there being any overt explanation of why she’s there. I think that always adds to the mystery of it, and I’m interested to see what the racial overtones and undertones are that people glean from it.”Read more at The Daily Beast.