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In Fabric

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Having very much enjoyed Peter Strickland's previous offerings, Berberian Sound Studio and The Duke of Burgundy, I attended a screening of his new film at the Showroom with great anticipation.

In Fabric begins with Sheila (Marianne Jean-Baptiste), a middle-aged divorcee who spends her spare time responding to personal ads and going on disappointing dates. She works in a bank and lives with her son, who shows her no respect.

When Sheila decides to buy herself a new dress for a date, things start to go very wrong. After wearing it, she finds what she thinks is a rash caused by her washing powder. It soon becomes apparent that she has been 'marked' by the dress. Events escalate and the dress begins to take on a life of its own, which Sheila is unable to escape from.

The film is actually two stories in one, as Strickland takes the unusual route of switching to a new lead character just when you think the film has finished. Reg Speaks (Leo Bill) is on his stag do when one of his friends gives him the aforementioned dress and insists he wears it in a club. Reg also finds he has a rash and the familiar pattern of events begins again. This change was a surprise and a little jarring, but once the story got going again it carried me along with it.

Scenes that are often shocking and uncomfortable are soon relieved with a witty comment or turn of events. Visually, In Fabric has the feel of a 70's Giallo thriller-horror but with the atmosphere of Tales of the Unexpected. The soundtrack takes on a character of its own, incorporating whispering voices and washing machine monologues.

The standout moments for me, however, are the scenes featuring Miss Luckmore (Fatma Mohamed), the department store assistant. I'll leave you with a line from Miss Luckmore: "Did the transaction validate your paradigm of consumerism?"

In Fabric is screening at the Showroom until 4 July.

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