The cause of Ann's stroke is never explicitly stated but the lasting ill effects of former husband Ian's decade long job posting to Djibouti many years previously and subsequent estrangement from the family are responsible for much of the intrigue here. A bellowing bull of a man, it is Ian's secrets and lies that are the crux of The Closer We Get and in achieving both a new found emotional closeness with her father and a closeness with the truth, Karen attempts to reach a long-awaited and much needed catharsis. Thankfully, there are no Jeremy Kyle-style slanging matches here but The Closer We Get is all the more powerful for its quiet contemplation of deep seated anguish and resignation; what is left unsaid between the family has a far longer lasting effect than any verbal confrontation would. Indeed, few, if any, conversations occur face to face and opening channels of communication is one of the real challenges to be affronted here.
One of Guthrie's most telling admissions is her stoicism, reticence and inability to demand the truth; characteristics which she deems are hereditary traits. Content to make small talk about the time change between Scotland and Djibouti, and unable to affront the past head- on, it is through the omnipotent lens of her camera - which often lingers longer than is strictly necessary - that the truth will out. The intimate realism of the tale allows it to transcend what would be possible in a fictional film and its insularity - made about the family by one of the family - ensures that it is a poignant, unerring and simultaneously heart-warming and heartbreaking portrait of dealing with the demons of an unspoken past.
Matthew Anderson | @behind_theseens