SACHA POLAK | NETHERLANDS + UNITED KINGDOM | 2023 | 102 MIN | ENGLISH
“What’s more important, justice or answers?” For fifteen years, this slippery question has plagued Franky in the wake of a fire that burned her body, impacting her relationships and self-image. When a suicidal patient finds beauty in her scars, she burns with passion, as darker impulses also gain kindling.
Working-class Londoners Franky (a blistering Vicky Knight) and Florence (Esme Creed-Miles) seem to embody differing philosophies. Franky, a nurse and her mother’s caretaker, wants to smoke weed and save lives. Florence, a self-described “bad” girl, craves extinguishment. Nevertheless, they form a tight-knit chosen family centred around the benevolent Alice (Angela Bruce) until an anonymous Facebook message claiming to know Franky’s arsonist stirs up their need for retribution. And Franky’s sister, Leah (Charlotte Knight), must decide whether her new faith or righteous anger wins out. Writer-director Sacha Polak treats the myriad of plot elements with nuance, from religion to sexuality, addiction to class, and a woozy soundtrack matches the scenes that flare and sizzle. As their souls sputter, each central woman must gaze inside of herself to find if there’s more warmth to give—or if she’ll offer herself to the flames.