‘Silver Haze’ Sets the Screen Ablaze

"Silver Haze" via IMDb.

In “Silver Haze” (Darkstar), writer/director Sacha Polak has struck gold with queer actors Vicky Knight and Esmé Creed-Miles, both of whom she has worked on previous projects (“Dirty God” and “Hanna,” respectively). Loosely based on Knight’s life, “Silver Haze” is a difficult film to watch, but well worth sticking with until the very last scene.

Frankie (Knight) is the very definition of a fighter. Bearing the scars from a deadly fire she survived 15 years earlier, she works as a nurse, where her compassion for others shines through. During her rounds, she meets Florence (Creed-Miles), hospitalized after a suicide attempt.

Frankie’s personal life is in complete disarray. In an effort to take control, she ends her bizarre relationship with her irresponsible boyfriend. She also attempts to put some distance between herself and her long-suffering mother, who never got over Frankie’s father leaving her for her best friend. She maintains a close relationship with her sister Leah (Charlotte Knight), but even that one is seriously complex, involving Leah’s unfaithful boyfriend and her sudden religious conversion.

Much to Frankie’s surprise, she develops an unexpected friendship with an attraction to Florence, who shares her feelings. As they get to know each other, they reveal more and more about their lives. Florence talks about how she and her brother were abandoned by their mother and were raised by their foster mother Alice (Angela Bruce). A kind and nurturing presence, Alice becomes as essential to Frankie’s being as she was to Florence’s.

Meanwhile, Frankie and Florence continue to battle their respective demons. Substance abuse (including the titular strain of pot) doesn’t necessarily help the situation. Quite the contrary, it tends to fuel Frankie’s desire for revenge on the woman with whom her father started a new family (see the Molotov cocktail scene). The same woman that Frankie is convinced started the fire in which she was so badly injured.

Florence’s instability further complicates matters. Unable to deal with her feelings for Frankie, as well as Alice’s terminal cancer diagnosis, Florence moves out. This leaves Frankie, Alice, and Florence’s autistic brother Jack to create their own kind of supportive family unit amidst all the dysfunction. 

“Silver Haze” would have benefited from subtitles, as the thick working-class accents of some characters occasionally made it difficult to understand what was being said. Regardless, Knight, Creed-Miles, and Bruce all deliver stellar and memorable performances, illuminating a hazy and somewhat depressing story.

Rating: B


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