Dark River isn’t quite as bracing or as unexpected as the director’s previous work.... Still, there’s scarcely room here for improvement at the level of craft or performance; in particular, it’s gratifying to see leading lady Ruth Wilson headlining a big-screen vehicle worthy of her flinty brilliance.
It’s still evidently the work of a very talented filmmaker and is certainly never bad, but it also never lives up to its potential. Barnard has a long career ahead of her, but Dark River seems destined to be remembered, years now, as a minor work in her filmography.
Everything in Dark River feels like it’s designed not with real people in mind but with Serious Independent Cinema in mind. It’s a movie so filled with pregnant pauses and pretentious looks that it never develops an emotional undercurrent at all.