Viewers have been blown away by a painful and powerful single-take scene in Covid-19 drama Help.
Scouse stars Jodie Comer and Stephen Graham take centre stage in the drama, which shines a damning light on the pandemic’s devastating impact in care homes.
The story revolves around the relationship between care worker Sarah (Comer) and Tony (Graham), a 47-year-old patient with young-onset Alzheimer’s.
Unsurprisingly given the subject matter, the entire film is difficult to watch, for some it may even be impossible to watch; but one scene in particular is stunningly affecting.
As Covid-19 takes a hold of the Liverpool care home, Sarah is left to cover the night shift on her own, and in a desperate attempt to help an infected patient who is struggling to breathe, she is forced to call on Tony for assistance – in lieu of the requested ambulance.
The all too real nightmare scenario is depicted in one harrowing 26-minute take, which is as impressive as it is heart-breaking.
The reaction on social media reflects just how staggeringly raw, immersive and crushing the scene is:
As you might expect, getting it right took a lot of practise.
Speaking at a press Q&A, 28-year-old Comer said: “I think it was such a clever decision by [director Marc Munden] because I think that sequence is relentless. It’s relentless for her and what Marc wanted was for the audience to feel exactly that and experience the exact same thing.
“What was so beautiful in a way about doing it like that was the team work, because these were long takes. These were long, long, long takes. So there was a lot of rehearsal to make sure that everybody knew where they needed to be at each moment.
“Even the pace I’m walking, I’ve got to walk a certain pace because the camera man is holding the camera. We were all kind of in sync with each other so when we were all moving like that, it was so incredible.”
She continued: “Marc really pushed me on that. I remember there was a moment, we’d done this whole take and I was so in my own head. And I was like, ‘I think we’ve got it, we’ve got it, we’ve got it,’ and Marc was like, ‘No, no, no – we’re gonna do one more,’ and I was like, ‘Oh okay.’
“I was so in my own head at this point and we did it again and the moment we got in that second take, we never ever would have got in the first. And I think Marc really was phenomenal at that, knowing just when to push you that little bit more.”
Munden said he never planned to make it an epic 1917-esque scene; it was Comer’s talent which convinced him to make the decision.
He said: “It was never written as a single shot, it was written as a sequence of Sarah trying to save Kenny’s life, but from very early on in the rehearsals Jodie was so real and raw and natural in that part that I realised we could just look at her for 30 minutes and it would be the drama.
“That’s basically what we did – for me it was about bringing the audience into the horror that a lot of care workers must have experienced in that position.”
You can watch Help on All 4.