The Library Suicides, the first film directed by Euros Lyn (Broadchurch, Happy Valley) is highly accomplished, yet it incorporates an unforgivably hackneyed device in its final minute. Disappointingly this dissipates much of the ambiguity present throughout and lessens the potential for interesting psychological readings. However, it doesn’t alter the fact that The Library Suicides (significantly just ‘the library’ in Welsh) is a thoroughly gripping and enjoyable watch.
Dan Stafford Clark’s gorgeous cinematography often has a Wes Anderson-like symmetry which he uses to emphasise pairs, a concept integral to the plot. Catrin Stewart excels in the dual role, crafting distinct characters distinguishable through her body language, bearing and vocal work.
The National Library of Wales is the ideal setting for a mystery that hinges on family history, memory, and the written record. These themes are picked up formally too; the screenplay’s structure echoes Ana’s arguments about the slipperiness of narrative. With the exception of the unnecessary lapse into guessable familiarity, this is a neat and clever union of form and content.
Beyond being a solid suspense thriller and whodunnit, The Library Suicides makes the most of its setting to demonstrate the value of libraries, and through the figure of security guard Dan (Dwyfor) screenwriter Fflur Dafydd makes tentative commentary on the difficulty of reintegrating into society following a prison sentence. It’s a weighty sideline issue to pack into a taut 90-minute film that already has a lot of back story, but is tempered by light relief thanks to Dwyfor’s cheeky manner.
The Library Suicides looks absolutely great on the big screen, and with the final moments shaved off would be a perfectly satisfying narrative. Still, it’s not often a Welsh-language film comes along, and this would be worth seeing even without that quality to mark it out.
CAST: Catrin Stewart, Dyfan Dwyfor, Sharon Morgan, Ryland Teifi
DIRECTOR: Euros Lyn
WRITER: Fflur Dafydd
SYNOPSIS: Twin sisters who work at the National Library of Wales attempt to pull off a deadly crime after hours.