You might know the Dutch director Sacha Polak for her movies such as “Hemel” or “Zurich” but now she’s heading to the cinemas with her first English feature and it’s a remarkable one. With “Dirty God”, she doesn’t only tell an immensely touching real-life story but she also brings incredibly relevant topics back to the big screen.
“Is there a God watching over us?”. If you would ask that question to Jade, Vicky Knight, a young mother, she would tell you that “your God is different from my God. Mine is a dirty God.” It’s not hard to understand why. God isn’t treating her well at all.
After becoming the victim of an acid attack, Jade is trying to pick up her life again. With the support of her trendy mother, Katherine Kelly (“Coronation Street (TV)”, “Mr Selfridge (TV)”) and her friends, she’s trying to lead a normal one as much as possible. Partying, having fun and being with her daughter. But while her face has been reconstructed during different difficult operations, her beauty is lost beneath the scars.
Sadly, that beauty or the lack of it is the only thing the society sees. Jade is trying out different and edgy things which make her happy but it just doesn’t fit in the mind-set of her mother which put a lot of pressure on their relationship. While Jade is struggling with the way society sees her (“she’s a monster”, ” the plastic surgery clearly went wrong for you, girl”), she might have found a way to get her beauty back. There’s a clinic which can perform plastic surgery to make her look great again and it’s her last hope to have a normal life. Is this the way to beauty again or is it just too good to be true?
How often do we see advertisements for beauty products that will make you look like a supermodel? Well, a lot more than you think, especially because of social media. Even if you’re just a tiny little bit different than that ideal image, you might feel like a failure or a disappointment.
So can you imagine what Jade (in the film) and Vicky (in real life) has to go to? This is one of the topics director Polak wants to highlight with “Dirty God”. We’re living in a society where beauty is key and once that beauty is gone, in this film due to an accident, people don’t look beneath that surface anymore. Not even your closest friends or family.
The other reason why this film is highly relevant these days is because of the increase in acid attacks. While most of us are luckily not harmed by this, there are a lot of people out there who aren’t so lucky. As a society, we see the scars on the outside but we don’t know what happens on the inside.
Next time you see someone who became the victim of a vicious acid attack, you might think twice before calling him or her a monster or look at the person with disgust. It’s not helping anyone, especially not the victim who’s trying to put his or her life back on track and who also has to fight against the prejudices of society.
You might not have heard of Vicky Knight before watching this film and that’s because she isn’t an actress at all. Director Polak wanted someone that went through the same as Jade playing the leading character. It would show the authenticity, the real-life emotional and physical impact and sincerity a story like this needs.
That decision is the best one that could have been made because Knight is amazing as Jade. The pain, the insecurity but also the hope and joy come through the big screen. It’s also extraordinary to see that after all the misery Jade/Vicky went through, she’s still a determent, courageous and tenacious young woman who wants to live life the fullest.
As her best (but at the same time also worst) friend, we see Rebecca Stone (“Whirlpool”, “Snakes and Arrows”) in the role of Shami. While Shami cares about her friend, you see that it’s all about beauty, make-up, and boys for her which can cause friction between the two of them. Stone is the best support for Knight, both as the carrying friend but also the young beautiful girl who wants to keep her reputation as high as possible.
Keeping a reputation high and being the trendiest one is also on the mind of Jade’s mother and she’s beautifully (in every sense of the word) portrayed by Katherine Kelly. Bluey Robinson (“EastEnders (TV)”, “Doctors (TV)”) provides the masculinity in this film as Naz, Shami’s lover with feelings for Jade.
“Dirty God” is about the tragic and sad life of a young woman but that doesn’t mean that this film lacks some punch or energy. On the contrary! Because of the very uplifting and upbeat music that’s being used from the start, the film brings joy and happiness to the audience and together with the colourful and flashy cinematography, it feels like a party. However, it doesn’t take long before the music stops and the emotions and tragedy set in again accompanied by a changing cinematography.
After receiving rave reviews after its world premiere at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, the success from “Dirty God” kept on coming. It went to America during the Sundance Film Festival and it had its UK premiere during the Glasgow Film Festival.
You’re going to have to wait until the 7th of June when the film gets it UK release date but you should definitely go and watch it. The film is a highly captivating movie telling a sad but incredibly relevant and honest story!