At the foundation of Still, there is a kernel of an idea that could have resonated throughout the entire film. Children are people with hope, and have more time to direct their lives in a specific path. The guiding hand of a father or mother is a crucial component of this, and Simon Blake attempts to demonstrate that by examining the father of a child and how his life had an influence on his recently deceased son. Unfortunately, Still is too focused on one character to see the forest beyond the trees.
Aidan Gillen turns in a great performance as Tom Carver, a photographer who primarily composes portraits of children. His son was killed in a hit-and-run a year ago, and we enter Tom’s life as he begins being harassed by a local gang of teenagers. This antagonizing escalates to a point where those associated with Tom are at risk, and he is forced to confront the gang or have more of his friends hurt. This would all be alright if the movie gave something for the viewer to latch onto other than the desire for the gang to get its comeuppance.
This gang, known as the Under 5’s, are responsible for a couple known murders in the North London area, which Tom’s friend Ed (Jonathan Slinger) is hellbent on proving to the police. There is this notion that the gang will hurt people for no reason, and that is what the film hangs its hat on as a reason for Tom to be targeted. The gang becomes too interconnected into different facets of Tom’s life that the lack of motive which the film suggests becomes strained by the intersecting plot points. The film tries to have its interconnected nature pay off, but I ultimately found myself losing patience with Tom and with the film’s reliance on a concluding twist to make me see the film in a different light.
I did see Tom for who he was, though. By the end of the movie, you realize there is more to Tom’s life, and the film does a good job of depicting his already tenuous relationships. But then it does things which feel jarring to the pace of the film. An argument reaches its boiling conclusion midway through the film, but for some strange reason the dialogue is interrupted by a scene of Tom’s girlfriend walking. It plays into a plot point later in the film, but it destroys the impact of the argument and Gillen’s performance, while doing nothing for the later payoff.
Tom is all over the place, and sometimes I felt like he was making rational decisions but others it felt like he was too slow on the uptake. His friend Ed is also just as erratic in his behavior. Ed will push Tom in one direction then try to change his path, but nothing makes it feel genuine. Everything just feels forced. If it wasn’t for the cinematography being consistent and Gillen maintaining a conviction in his performance, this would have wound up a far lesser film. Instead it maintains a tone and seriousness that lets it feel better than it actually is.