The Letters is a 2021 film by award-winning director Robbie Walsh. It centres around the Cervical Check Scandal, which first emerged in 2018 and is still affecting many women and families today.
While we hear from and about those who were affected in real life, the film introduces us to fictional characters. They are Sam (Mary Murray), Mary (Kathleen Warner) and Cliona (Sarah Carroll). Each has her own life and her own struggles to deal with.
On the surface, they seem to have nothing in common with each other. Until they receive their letter, which reveals they have all been impacted by the misreading of smears.
This film shows us the stark and shocking reality of the situation at hand. While we hear countless testimonies of the brave victims of this scandal in ‘real life’ media, we never actually see just how it affects them in their day-to-day lives.
We are transported into Sam, Mary and Cliona’s homes, workplaces and routines. We are shown their pain, physically and mentally, and the toll cancer takes on them.
The picture is shot in black and white, which, along with the film’s opening sequence of a ballerina dancing, adds a certain old Hollywood charm that handles the subject delicately. The cinematography is simple, yet stunning. Rare colour shots are sentimental, even magical.
The acting is powerful, with moving performances both before and after their cancer diagnosis. Each character is complex, but human at the end of it all.
The Letters is a beautiful film that deals with a hard topic. As a person, you can’t help but be left with many different emotions after watching – from deep sadness to empathy, anger and beyond.
Walsh has created a piece that is important in the Irish landscape, showing the horrors that occurred in real life. The characters are genuine and represent many women around the country in many different ways.
Check it out in a number of cinemas in Dublin from October 29th. This film is a must-watch, featuring new stars and familiar ones, showing us love, heartbreak, fear and vulnerability.
Find out more here.