Though the acting was without doubt wooden enough to do Pinocchio proud and the accents thick enough to spread on toast, the special effects and of course, the general message behind this film, were astounding.
We first met Cassie, the driver, when she was having a nightmare about drowning in her car. We then met her friends Jules and Emm with whom Cas worked at a shop, though not for long because after hearing Jules was pregnant, the three girls – Thelma and Louise styly – quit their jobs and embarked on a road trip.
With Cider and a determination to ‘celebrate’ Jules “ruinin’ the rest of my life” the girls got into Cas’s Ka for their fateful journey to begin. However, initially, it appears they aren’t going to get to celebrate for long as Cas is pulled over by a police officer who’s suspicious about her rapid exit from the supermarket car park.
A nervous Cas pulled over and, thanks to the smell of Cider, was breathalysed, but as she’d refused to drink because she was driving, it was of course negative. And that was the first irony of the film; a responsible attitude to drinking and driving but not thought one about losing concentration while texting on her mobile.
And it was that text that was to prove fatal for four people.
Cas veered into oncoming traffic while composing her text and what then transpired was indeed awe inspiring, both for the technical aspects of making the scenes inside Cas’s car so realistic but also for demonstrating just how fast life can end. What a fragile hold we have on it.
The scene inside another car that was involved with the accident was also inspired and tragic. We saw a young child crying out for his parents to wake up while next to him, a baby lay, eyes open but sightless as paramedics used a pain mechanism to try to elicit a life-response from the infant, but to no avail. However, perhaps the baby did survive for he/she wasn’t among the final body count of four deaths.
We then saw the police breaking the news of the accident to the parents of the girls in the car and Cassie’s mother frantically dashing to the hospital and trying to reach Cas’s father. We also saw Jules’s father having to identify her badly bruised and battered body at the hospital morgue and his learning that she’d been pregnant.
An especially poignant scene involved the grandmother of the little boy whose parents had died at the scene talking to Cas’s father, and both realising of what significance each other were with regard to the accident.
Following this were traumatic funeral scenes and an overview of how Cas and her family were both reviled and ostracised by the community, many of whom believed Cas had been drinking as news that she was breathalysed spread.
She of course wasn’t drunk but in the closing scenes, we saw a very moving portrayal of a mentally and physically scarred Cas – very nicely played by Jenny Davies – crying and telling her reflection, “You stupid murdering cow…”
Before the end credits, we learned that Cassie had been sentenced to seven years in prison for causing death by dangerous driving and the frightening fact that road accidents account for the most deaths in the 17 to 30 age group.
It was very sobering stuff and hugely – for me anyway – influential. Where before I’ve nagged my husband about using his phone while driving, I’ll now actively do whatever I can to stop him, including taking his phone off him while we’re in the car.
Bad acting possibly but a very convincing message.
If you missed this film, you can see it here on BBC’s iPlayer.