REVIEW: The Meeting (2018)

Based on a true story, Ailbhe Griffith fell victim to a horrific crime where she was brutally raped and mutilated. Nine years later, she requests a meeting with her attacker in order to find the human behind the monster.

The Meeting is an unprecedented piece of storytelling. In an astonishing feat, Ailbhe Griffith plays herself here. It’s an overwhelmingly effective performance for the simple reason that there was no acting going on when it came to this. She lived this experience. The honesty that is derived from this key component simply blew me away.

What’s just as impressive as Griffith’s contribution is Alan Gilsenan’s intimidatingly realistic direction. While the movie does exhibit a few theatrical attributes in its cinematography, such as the odd ‘birds' eye view, and some effects of visual blurring, this movie in no way feels theatrical.

The acting feels so raw, there is never a moment where any of the cast go overboard with line deliveries or physical gestures, and everything is optimised at such a refined low-key level. The ideal way to summarise it is that it is a theatrical piece with a documentary methodology. I really was in this room with these people. I was there. That’s how immersive it was.

It’s the opening five minutes where the movie hooked me. There’s no dialogue, there’s no re-enactment of the crime, we get glimpses at specific lines from Ailbhe’s story in the newspaper. It’s actually quite a terrifying opening. If I was reading something like that in a newspaper, I’d have the same feeling of disgust, and the movie aptly puts you in that position to feel the weight of it.

Terry O’ Neill, who plays Martin (Ailbhe’s offender), was utterly breath-taking. I had to remind myself at points that this isn’t the guy from real life. He absolutely sold it. We the audience do have a common goal with Ailbhe as we are also trying to find the human behind the monster.

This movie achieved that in spades and rightfully doesn’t condone him at the same time. The supporting cast provide stellar turns, Kevin McCormack in particular showing wonderful composure.

The Meeting is a tough film to talk about. It’s difficult to describe the guts it has. But what I do know is that it gutted me. It’s an experience to be experienced.

The movie has an anecdote at the end that was a little unnecessary and some of the anxious hand gestures did become a little repetitive but it’s dialled back considerably as it goes on.

Aside from those few cons, this movie absolutely floored me. It’s unorthodox and daring in all the right ways. If this plays anywhere near you, seek it out. It’s one of the best I’ve seen in 2018.

Written by Seán Mac G.

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