The debut feature from Debbie Tucker Green, Second Coming follows Jax (Marshall) and Mark (Elba), a couple living with their 11-year-old son; Jax has had a history of miscarriages, but has discovered that she is pregnant. This conflicts her, not because of the problems she has faced in the past, but due to the fact that her and her husband have become physically estranged from each other, making the pregnancy inexplicable.
So, the story is primarily centred on this woman caught in a position in which she’s unable to tell to her husband, the tensions that come about as a result of that, and the way in which the family copes through it. Yet, within this low-key drama, there’s a central question about how all this happened, what’s going on between this dysfunctional family, and whether or not it is really possible that this problem can be properly resolved.
The film plays out over the months of pregnancy, and the film juxtaposes these low-key scenes of intimacy and domesticity with some small, strange hallucinatory episodes where Jax enters the bathroom from time to time and starts to experience visions of erupting showers of water; almost as if what she’s experiencing is either some form of baptism or deluge. As it goes on, you begin to question if they are dreams, nightmares, hallucinations, or visions. Also, the film touches on the probabilities of miracles and whether or not they can either become a blessing, a curse or possibly both, despite being an everyday occurrence. Throughout the drama, Jackie becomes resolutely non-communicative on the subject of what she thinks is going on, and she’s continually approached by people that are demanding her to tell them and make them understand even though she doesn’t want to.
In many ways, Second Coming deals and tackles, in a very deep and emotional way, the subjects and themes of interpersonal family tensions, the tensions of pregnancy, disconnected estrangements within a marriage, and how a child deals with the possibilities of another child. On that level, the film is wonderfully natural, very down-to-earth and honest, and the performances are sublime with the highly nuanced Nadine Marshall in particular being both engaging and evasive. Idris Elba also convincingly embodies the disorientating rage his character has as a result of being completely shut out from his partner’s own troubled world, and rising star Francis Lewis does a superb job of communicating young JJ’s personal fears of being both the outsider and the interloper in a chaotic environment. However, the film also has this other element to it that is almost supernatural, and it allows the audience to make up their own mind about what’s happening on screen, if it’s natural or psychological.
To some extent, there are clear echoes of the great works of Mike Leigh and Ken Loach in its approach to honest human drama, and through brilliant direction and an emotionally compelling story, Debbie Tucker Green isn’t afraid of tackling weighty themes and subjects in a raw and honest fashion. Second Coming is a special kind of film, being wonderfully ambiguous, very warm, honest and human, yet almost transcendent and has the power to capture anyone’s imagination.
SECOND COMING / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: DEBBIE TUCKER GREEN / STARRING: NADINE MARSHALL, IDRIS ELBA, KAI FRANCIS LEWIS / RELEASE DATE: JULY 6TH