The beauty of this simple, but effective drama lies in how its central conflict slowly unfolds through a conversation between a female jogger and a man walking his dog. The shared traumatic incident that sends these two into an emotional tailspin after seeing each other again is never explicitly mentioned, but rather it is implied through the developing discomfort in their interaction.
When the protagonists have a chance meeting at the beach one cold afternoon, it is unclear how they know each other. What seems like running into someone after an awkward hook-up turns into something much more substantial and sour, keeping the viewer guessing at first, not letting them off the hook the moment it becomes clear how these two are connected. The dialogue never becomes too obvious and leaves as much between the lines as it expresses in words.
Director Aurora Fearnley approaches her subject and characters with a sensitive, unagitated tone that keeps its composure even when the emotions are on the brink of overheating. Aside from the intelligent, restrained script by writer Isley Lynn, the fragile emotional balance is also reflected in the story’s staging.
Although the one-shot execution and intense performances drag and stumble a bit at times, both factors play perfectly into Struck‘s concept of unwieldiness, claustrophobia and growing tension. The film keeps the viewer not only drawn to the conversation, but almost pulls you into the situation with these two strangers linked by their memories of the haunting incident.
“The decision to shoot the film as a one-shot came initially from the rehearsal period. DOP Ben Hecking had come to observe our sessions and quickly suggested the idea. He felt that it captured the authentic moment between the two characters. It felt like a risk for me to let go of my original ideas, but I decided that my duty was to the authenticity of the story and performers.” – Director Aurora Fearnley
One of the most interesting things about the film is how the theme of ‘survivor’ is depicted in the unfolding confrontation. With #MeToo and Time’s Up growing stronger every day, the number of stories being told about sexual aggression on the one hand and female empowerment on the other, will only increase and every storyteller will find her (or his) own way to deal with the subject. Struck doesn’t belittle the woman’s horrific experience, but director Aurora Fearnley and writer Isley Lynn refuse to turn her into a victim.
While it may seem odd that the man becomes this frustrated with the woman for returning to where it all happened, his condescension turns out to be rooted in his own open wound, reeling from what the director describes as “a new wave of films exploring the female gaze on conflicted modern masculinity.” Turning the story of their shared experience into a two-hander doesn’t so much take the focus off from the woman’s physical and mental pain, but by emphasizing with the broken construct of the “savior,” it adds an unusual angle to a topic that has many ugly faces.