“It Felt Quite Radical And Cool And Unusual And Important.” RELIC Roundtable With Natalie Erika James, Emily Mortimer, Robyn Nevin and Bella Heathcote

From writer and director Natalie Erika James, and led by a strong predominately female cast, Relic is the latest to tackle a present day issue, interweaving it through the delightfully horrific genre that not only entertains but informs. Yet, where many films have a tangible personification of the ills at its core, Relic relies primarily on the invisible. An unseen force that not only takes hold, but it also can not be fought, the evidence of its existence only witnessed in the increasing deterioration of its victims. Relic, through a deliciously brilliant depiction, personifies and tackles the social and familial issues surrounding dementia.

Recently, I had the chance to participate in a roundtable with both director Natalie Erika James and cast members including Robyn Nevin, Emily Mortimer and Bella Heathcote to dive deeper into Relic. Film Inquiry was given the opportunity to ask one question at the day’s events, and as fellow writer Alex Lines had spoken exclusively with James regarding her film, I took the chance to find out why each of the cast wanted to be apart of Relic.

Stephanie Archer for Film Inquiry: Hello! Natalie I wanted to congratulate you on your film. It was amazing – absolute knock-out, and everyone delivered such amazing performances. It was a real pleasure to see. I have a question for the cast: What attracted each of you to want to be be apart of this project and take on your roles?

Robyn Nevin: I’m going first on this one. Combination of the elements as it always is with the project, you always have to consider the wholes, not just one thing. So it was the combination – well, the first thing that hits is the script. It was recognizable. I could feel what it was about.

“It Felt Quite Radical And Cool And Unusual And Important.” RELIC Roundtable With Natalie Erika James, Emily Mortimer, Robyn Nevin and Bella Heathcote
source: IFC Midnight

I don’t understand the horror genre. I’m understanding it a little bit more now, but I had no experience with it prior to the script. So I avoided the big print, which was all about atmospherics and all the stuff that Natalie does. The stuff that I gave you is in the words and that’s what I was really interested in. Natalie was very impressive and I was quite impressed by producers as well – to throw that in. So for me, it was the feeling and the truthfulness that was in the writing.

And it reads through both from the film itself and from your performances.

Bella Heathcote: The script definitely for me was the first draw card. I was really blown away it. I couldn’t put it down and I also loved the cut for me. I was going through a point where i was doing a lot of period flix, and it was just lovely to read something that was said in our current time. I loved that each of the three women had a kind of equal standing and each of the characters had something to offer. They were really well written and they were complicated and their relationships were messy.

Also I love the mother daughter relationships with the grandmother granddaughter relationship. I just love the kind of contrast and contradictions between all the relationships, I thought was really incredible and kind of trusts the audience that you can still like a female character, even if she’s complicated or even if she doesn’t get along with the mother.

“It Felt Quite Radical And Cool And Unusual And Important.” RELIC Roundtable With Natalie Erika James, Emily Mortimer, Robyn Nevin and Bella Heathcote
source: IFC Midnight

And that definitely reads as well. It was really awesome watching you and Emily play of each other as well as you and Robyn. And how about you Emily?

Emily Mortimer: Well, all the same is true for me that Robin and Bella have talked about. But also another thing that I think was really intriguing and drew me in was just the way that it dealt with and looked at the fact of death in the eye, like the actual physical thing of what it is to decline and die, physically and mentally, and to somehow no longer exist. To dwindle to the point where you no longer exist and how that actual journey to death and the journey that you take when you die. And also the journey that the people who love you take when they help you die.

I don’t think really in my experience, that I’ve really seen or read anything that really deals so kind of full on with it. It’s really just looking at it [death] in the eye and in a way that felt where it felt quite radical and cool and unusual and important because I think in our culture – especially in our sort of Western culture up until now, everything has changed since this virus, of course – but we’ve don’t think too much about death, which is really odd and given that it’s the one thing that is the one inevitable fact of all our lives.

Film Inquiry would like to thank Natalie Erika James, Emily Mortimer, Robyn Nevin and Bella Heathcote for taking the time to speak with us!

Relic is now available in select theaters, drive-ins and VOD!


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