Hollywood, CA - This weekend I had the opportunity to attend the North American premiere of Axelle Carolyn's Soulmate at the Egyptian Theatre. The film was dark, gothic, hauntingly romantic, and in a word, fantastic.
Audrey (Anna Walton) is a recent, young widow who is plagued by the premature death of her husband. She attempts suicide to escape her pain, but her failure leads her to an even deeper depression. She escapes to a remote cottage in the Wales countryside to be in solitude and to work on her music once again. Audrey soon hears noises coming from a locked room in the cottage, only to eventually learn that it is haunted by the previous owner, Douglas Talbot (Tom Wisdom). Axelle creates suspense, both with the accompanying music score and with the camera. However, the jump-in-your-seat shocks happen when you least expect them! I admit, I flinched several times and on one occasion, actually let out a quick scream, much to my embarrassment. Instead of running away from her ghostly housemate, Audrey befriends him, much to his amazement. Their friendship develops beautifully; each one helping the other cope with the torments of their past. There is a love for one another, one much deeper than the other, though.
Anna is superb as Audrey; you feel her pain along with her, often with a knot in your stomach as she tries to make it through each day. As her tension relaxes with her new supernatural friend, you experience the warm, fuzzy feelings during their unique moments of camaraderie. Simple gestures, such as playing chess together (as Douglas struggles to move the pieces to the desired space with his energy), leaves you with a sweet smile. And when Audrey feels terror, you feel it with her.
This film is unlike any you have seen Tom Wisdom in before; his true acting colors shine through in his portrayal of Douglas. Tormented from his past, he has struggled for thirty years in loneliness as no one has ever been able to see or hear him until Audrey came along. As Audrey asks him personal questions, his silent stares make you uncomfortable, which is precisely what he was aiming for. From his sweet, gentle demeanor to his explosive anger, Tom flexes his acting chops in the film. You adore him and are completely terrified of him all in two hours. His deathly makeup only adds to the character, making him completely believable as a long-dead man.
I always enjoy twists at the end of films that I didn't see coming, which Axelle delivers perfectly. An ending that one doesn't anticipate in the least, I actually heard some quiet gasps in the audience around me (myself included).
Soulmate is currently lined up for a UK distribution, however they have been told that the opening sequence needed to be cut, which would completely diminish the effect of Audrey's tale. Quite honestly, I have seen far worse in other films! Lucky for us this past Saturday, we viewed the uncut version and I didn't find it offensive at all. I admit, I cringed and watched through my eyelashes, but that's only because I get squeamish very easily. However, that scene sets the tone for the rest of the story.
All in all, Soulmate was fantastic - beautifully filmed, intriguing dialogue, and an immense chemistry between Audrey and Douglas. I am hoping for US distribution only because I cannot wait to watch it again and again. It is now by far my favorite film of Tom Wisdom's and I cannot wait to add it to my home library when it is released.