Filmmaker Colin Hickey is two for two with his sophomore effort Where the Merrows Roam, a dialogue-free film that leaves you full of contemplation about your own childhood and where you are now as an adult. Captivating throughout, this is a film that you take from it what you bring in, and Hickey needs to be applauded for this as his form of cinematic art is one to cherish – a special film.
Hickey’s ability to find perfect stillness in what he films, at times, take your breath away. He has that special skill in capturing and framing his subjects in such gorgeous ways. As with The Evening Redness in the South, every single shot here feels like a moving tapestry. What is shot could mean nothing to you or something profound. The delicacy of each image has your brain either in a constant roll of thought or sending you into a meditative state. Either or, you are following along, waiting for the next shot choice. It is an utterly bold and fascinating form of filmmaking that envelopes you.
Hickey gives us an idyllic viewpoint of our youth, especially those who spent their time out of the major cities; bike rides and time spent wandering around fields are rife in Where the Merrows Roam. As a girl rides her bicycle down the country roads, no car is seen, no person is seen; in those moments, it is just children and teenagers. It is quiet, almost as if this world is just for her and those she wants to be around to explore. Similarly, when we follow a young lad, he is off on his own, roaming the land with his pellet gun. To which times the girl is around others, he cuts a solitary figure, for the most part, hood up and deep in thought as if prepared for something, anything to protect.
By keeping the film dialogue-free, we are left to create and wonder, as if we are getting the chance to be children again. Even what was just written above could be what I have gleaned from the film and not what you take from it. Too often, films, media, or, well, anything really, is explained or overly explained to audiences. As a result, we rarely get the chance to develop our thoughts about what a film or scene means. So, when a film allows us to assume a narrative or meaning to specific shots, it creates a spark in our mind, as if we can make up our own story from what Hickey has given us. It is a fascinating and rewarding experience to be able to do that and whether Hickey meant to allow his audience to do so is unclear, but it will happen when you watch it.
By allowing the audience to almost map Where the Merrows Roam goes in their mind, we become free able to take what we bring into the film. There could even be a chance that you may bring or take something different to it if you watch it again. It could have a completely different meaning to you. That is the joy of cinema and filmmaking to have your audience ponder, and Colin Hickey has grasped this style of filmmaking better than most of his contemporaries.
Pipe Gaitan’s score permeates into your subconscious throughout Where the Merrows Roam. You may even hear it as you go on with your life a day or so after, adding in your versions of the score and soundscapes to what you are looking at. The alterations to the rhythm and tone of the visuals are perfectly complimented here. The tranquil moments are meshed with more rapid sequences that could distract, but thanks to Gaitain’s score, it keeps you in a comforting bubble.
What hits home the most about this wonderful film and with both of Hickey’s films is that they allow you to appreciate your surroundings that bit more, you may not be by a lough or in the countryside. But, still, you become more keenly aware of your surroundings, to look at things, moments, a bit longer than you would previously.
After The Evening Redness in the South, I wondered if Hickey would be able to do something similar with Where the Merrows Roam; not only has he done that, but he has finessed his skillset made something even better. The previous review said, “This is a film to be experienced”, and this is another from the filmmaker that ticks that box. He continues to mark himself as a filmmaker who stands out from the crowd, and with another fantastic film under his belt, you will be desperate to see what he has planned next.
If you want to see Colin Hickey’s first feature, The Evening Redness in the South, watch it on the link below!
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