SXSW 2020 FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW! In her first feature, Claire Oakley’s Make Up subversively turns a coming-of-age story into a subtle, psychological thriller.
The setting is a remote vacation resort on the North Coast of Cornwall in England. It’s the winter, and a crew of young people is hired each year to deep clean, fumigate, and maintain the cabins or “vans” before the summer surge.
Arriving is an older teen Ruth (Molly Windsor) venturing outside of her hometown for the first time. She’s here to visit her boyfriend Tom (Joseph Quinn), who’s been working at the resort for the last few summers. She’s traveled a great distance to the resort out of boredom, to reconnect with Tom, and maybe earn a little extra money.
“…she begins going through Tom’s stuff, she finds a strand of red hair on his jacket.”
The visit is not going as Ruth expected. After a first night of passion, Tom goes off to work in the day, and Ruth is left alone. As she begins going through Tom’s stuff, she finds a strand of red hair on his jacket. The discovery starts a slow chain reaction of jealousy within her. She notices that Tom works long hours. One day Tom is missing, and his boss, Shirley (Lisa Palfrey), says that he took the day off. He gets upset when asked about his whereabouts.
Now, evenings together are short in span and quiet in conversation. Let’s also mention the strange noises at night and Ruth’s vision of a peculiar woman in one of the rooms wrapped in plastic being fumigated, and a more perplexing “vision” later.