“Fading Petals” is a film filled with heavy symbolism. Its storytelling is slow and deliberate, filled with detail and mystery. Writer / director Bradley Charlton‘s story of a single young woman (Charlotte Reidie) who is hired to serve as a nurse and companion to an ailing widow (Melanie Revill) is a look at the bitterness and anger that grows from loneliness.
Set mostly within the confines of one home, the film (which was made on a shoestring budget) would easily work as a stage play. The focus is on the dialogue and conversations between the two women, both unsure of each other. When they first meet, things are a bit rocky. As the two slowly open up to one another, their relationship gets better. It’s only when dark secrets and hidden truths are revealed that make things spin out of control.
The two women couldn’t be more different. The elder is not a very warm person, while the younger is eager to help. They are exceptionally skilled at pushing each other’s buttons, and it’s something the older woman seems to find pleasure in doing. As the old woman grills her assistant with highly personal and upsetting questions, she touches a nerve and truly gets under her skin. The younger woman’s demeanor changes, and it’s a shocking reveal as to why. The inappropriate questions get out of hand and the story drops subtle crumbs that create a mystery, all leading up to the revelation of a massive secret in the finale.
Revill and Reidie carry the film with their strong, natural performances, which isn’t an easy task when the film relies heavily on two women conversing. As one makes a snide comment, she watches the reaction from the other. The actors work well together, especially as the rocky rapport between their characters evolves.
Charlton’s script has well-written dialogue and takes on substantial themes like regret and the demands that religion puts on women. “Fading Petals” is a slow but thoughtful piece of female-centered cinema.
By: Louisa Moore