Hanna spends her free time partying and sleeping around like how she thinks a 20-year-old girl should.
But after waking up in a stranger’s bed with no bag or her phone missing, she wanders around the city of Newcastle, taking refuge in a church. She then meets Terry, a middle-aged man desperate to connect with his estranged daughter.
Terry offers to help Hanna out with a ride, and as they spend the course of the day together on their various quests and see one another’s struggles, they learn more than they expected from one another — and catch a glimpse of paths that could lead them elsewhere.
Written and directed by Andy Berriman and produced by Maria Caruana Galizia, this heartfelt, intimate drama examines what emerges when two unexpected people cross paths and broaden one another’s perspectives through the simple act of genuine connection.
Shot with a sense of low-key yet sharply observed realism, the film has a documentary-like feel, situating its characters and their behavior within a strangely quiet, almost empty world. What the film documents, though, is less a milieu and more a state of isolation, one shared by its two main characters. Hanna and Terry drift aimlessly through the world, unanchored by any meaningful human relation, and their freedom is actually a prison of profound loneliness.
A film like this rests on writing that is both naturalistic yet well-sculpted and performances that are subtle, focused and precise. Lead actors Molly Windsor as Hanna and Mark Addy — Game of Thrones fans will recognize him as ill-fated King Robert Baratheon — bring the script’s excellent dialogue to life, detailing a pair of people burdened with the mistakes and follies of failing interpersonal relationships. Both are lost souls, and witnessing one another at their lowest points, they come together, first in a fit of escapism — and then a confrontation of its limits, as well as their potential catastrophe of their mistakes.
“Elsewhere” isn’t bleak in terms of a portrayal of abject poverty or social ill. But there is a muted but powerful sadness at its core, in its portrayal of people who long for love and belonging, even as they made and make decisions that sabotage these for themselves.
But this undertow of melancholy makes its small yet hopeful ending of “Elsewhere” really resonate. Because in real life, things like a phone call, an offered bouquet of flowers or the generosity of a fellow struggling stranger are the big events of our personal journey — and the tiny yet vital acts of bravery and kindness that actually change the course of our lives.