Directed by: Corinna Faith
Premise: In 1974, labor strikes caused a power shortage in London that forced overnight blackouts. A nurse is assigned to work the graveyard shift in a hospital where she encounters a supernatural presence.
What Works: The title of The Power has multiple meanings. Struggles between workers and management are embedded throughout the film; it’s in the background with the labor strike causing the blackout but this idea is also found in the way that the hospital staff and their supervisors relate to one another. This film adds a layer of sexual politics to its power theme as well; there is a definite patriarchal structure to the hospital’s staffing. The filmmakers overlap and integrate these variations on the central theme to create a very interesting web of character relationships. At the center of the action is a probationary nurse played by Rose Williams. She is quite good in the role. This film puts her character through hell in the course of a single night and Williams conveys that fear and trauma. The cast also includes young actor Shakira Rahman as Saba, a child patient who gets mixed up in the action. Rahman communicates a lot with her posture and facial expressions, showing understanding and achieving a bond with Williams’ character despite speaking very little throughout the movie. The Power is fundamentally a haunted house picture but it uses some of the conventions of supernatural stories and what they signify in ways that deepen the movie’s themes and allow the filmmakers to visualize aspects of Williams and Rahman’s characters.
What Doesn’t: The Power does not do very much with its supporting characters. They are mostly one-dimensional figures and tend to disappear and reappear from the story at the film’s convenience. It’s also a little incredulous that the hospital does not assign a doctor to stay overnight with the nurses and the remaining patients.
Bottom Line: The Power is a unique haunting story. It sets up a complex background of various power relationships and uses the supernatural to dramatize the intersection of drama and labor conflicts. In the process the film becomes a considered portrait of trauma.
Episode: #874 (October 24, 2021)