Make Up review – an eerie erotic awakening in a caravan park

British writer-director Claire Oakley’s striking feature debut transforms an off-season caravan park in Cornwall into a haunting hall of mirrors. Eighteen-year-old Ruth (Molly Windsor) is visiting her long-term boyfriend, Tom (Joseph Quinn), but upon discovering a fistful of copper hairs and a kiss smudge on their bedroom mirror, grows paranoid. Meanwhile, she befriends the glamorous Jade (Stefanie Martini), who gives her a manicure and ignites an erotic awakening.

Some of the caravans are wrapped in plastic awaiting fumigation. Strange shapes lurk inside, behind what looks like stretched clingfilm, suggesting the suffocation of Ruth’s sexuality, itself a locked room that she has learned to seal off. Eerie images of a bloodied fingernail and long grass lit by amber floodlights signal Oakley’s sly sense of humour and eye for visual poetry. All the more frustrating, then, when the film’s third act lurches into coming-of-age cliches, including a fade-to-black snog at a beachside bonfire.

Watch a trailer for Make Up.


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