Review by Tatiana Miranda
When the poster for the new Adrian Shergold film Cordelia dropped, many speculated it to be a sexy period piece starring Johnny Flynn and Antonia Campbell-Hughes. While the film does star Flynn and Campbell-Hughes, the image used for the poster is misleading as Cordelia is a psychological thriller, not a steamy story taking place in a historical setting. Yet the movie's misleading advertisement is the least of its faults. In its attempt to be a groundbreaking psychological thriller, Cordelia loses any tension or scare factor and instead turns into an awkward mess of wasted potential.
The film follows the character Cordelia's (Campbell-Hughes) unraveling psyche as she grows close to her seemingly attractive neighbor Frank (Flynn). The first half of the movie teases an incident that happened twelve years prior, leading to Cordelia's intense PTSD and social anxiety. This contrasts the false sense of security she feels when she's with Frank. Cordelia's trauma-filled passivity makes her a boring titular character who continuously makes the worst imaginable decisions. Meanwhile, Frank has the potential to be a charming, helpful neighbor turned lover who has secrets of his own, but his character development is rushed through and, therefore, lackluster.
When Cordelia finally reveals what happened to her twelve years ago, the reveal is underwhelming and overshadowed by the chaos of everything else happening in the movie, which is surprising since so much of the beginning of the film focused on teasing the cause of her PTSD. Several other reveals meant to be shocking are given screen time for the characters to digest. Although it almost gives them too much screen time as the audience is forced to watch Cordelia pointlessly sob over multiple revelations throughout the movie.
While Flynn and Campbell-Hughes have interesting chemistry together that makes the reveal of their respective motives exciting to watch, it is due to their acting skills and not the film's writing from Adrian Shergold and Antonia Campbell-Hughes. The dialogue is often pointless and runs in circles repeating the same concepts. For example, there are only so many times someone can understandably bring up the fact that they suffered a mysterious traumatic incident twelve years earlier. The time spent on pointless dialogue takes away from the time Cordelia could've spent creating trust in certain characters, making later reveals much more shocking.
Sometimes the genre of psychological thrillers gets mixed with the goal of creating a nonsensical movie that leaves one feeling uneasy, and it's clear that's what Cordelia intended to do with open-ended storylines and plot holes. Instead of leaving the audience uneasy and questioning what really happened, it just leaves you confused and aggravated. While Cordelia certainly has some intrigue, namely its poster, it is ultimately a movie worth missing out on.
Cordelia begins playing in theaters and on demand on May 20th.