New television drama Help follows Sarah (Jodie Comer) in her new role as a carer in a home in Liverpool, who forms a close bond with a resident named Tony (Stephen Graham). Though she settles into her job nicely, March 2020 see's the coronavirus pandemic hit, setting Sarah many new challenges to face. Help is a heartbreaking and unfortunately accurate watch centering on the governments negligence of care homes during the pandemic, but its vital that as many people as possible take the time to sit down and watch it.
Written by Becca Johnson
Jodie Comer (Killing Eve) and Stephen Graham (Snatch) are two of the UK'S most popular drama actors, having proved themselves on both the big and small screen in the past. The performances they give during the runtime of Help are as good as ever, with an additionally impressive side performance from Ian Hart (God's Own Country). Comer excels in her role as Sarah, a dedicated yet extremely stressed carer who not only suffers the hardship of working through the pandemic, but has a very difficult homelife with a flawed past behind her. Graham plays Tony, a charming 47 year old man with early onset alzheimer's, who finds it increasingly difficult to stay shut in his room as the home goes into lockdown. The pair form a bond that through all the illness, emotion and stress, is a joy to see blossom. Hart does a great job portraying the manager of the care home, who finds it increasingly tough to navigate the frequent change up in rules, the lack of PPE and trying to take care of the entire home whilst he battles COVID himself.
Help is as anxiety inducing and tense as it is emotional. Comer's performance, the use of the musical score and the dark cinematography come together to create an immersive experience that makes the viewer as distressed as the carer herself. Some scenes can be rather harrowing, as the truth about the treatment of care homes last year is divulged. Sarah's care home is severely understaffed, leaving her dealing with traumatic experiences entirely alone, with little or no help from emergency services, battling 20 hour shifts. With a severe lack of personal protective equipment, we see Sarah fashioning bin bags into aprons and wearing builders dust masks instead of surgical masks. Its impossible not to feel terribly sad for her, and even though Help is often a tough watch, it perfectly sheds light onto how incredible care staff were during the height of the pandemic.
From a technical standpoint, the movie works well. The performances are easily the highlight, yet every aspect is cleverly thought out and executed. Our two lead characters are developed well; even though the scripts main focus is the pandemic, it teaches us enough about our leads for the audience to root for them and feel as if we truly know them. The cinematography is exceptional in showing how isolated Sarah is, as it utilises the dimly lit care home making her the only element in the shot. A huge tonal shift takes place for the final twenty minutes that feels jarring at first, yet the team manage to make it worthwhile and push its message even further - it comes together flawlessly.
Help is one of 2021's most shining stars and hidden gems. The performances are some of the best of the year, the topic is of high importance and the script does a fantastic job in creating an entertaining movie that packs a punch and makes us appreciate our front line staff even more. Though harrowing and upsetting, its vital and thought-provoking, a necessary watch for each and every individual.