The Uncertain Kingdom is an anthology of twenty short films. The project commissioned different artists across various disciplines to each produce a short vignette of how they see the UK. Using fiction, documentary, mockumentary, animation and choreography, almost every film is different in both their form and their story.

Obviously, giving an account of modern Britain is impossible using only a single vision. While the shorts were produced separately, they each benefit greatly from being presented in this extended format (the full running time is four hours, split over two volumes). No single image of Britain is created, but instead a diverse mosaic which is as funny as it is heart-breaking; as relatable as it is eye-opening.

The anthology constantly shifts its tone, but what is consistent is the feeling of uncertainty. Characters question themselves, the future, and the state of the nation. At times the film can become quite heady or challenging to watch as it raises difficult questions and thoroughly disrupts any notion of ‘the simple life’. The films inspire rage when they depict extreme inequality, but also empower when, in the face of racism and prejudice, the characters fiercely remain themselves. The shorts avoid giving any straight answer, but the anthology perfectly captures the schizophrenic psyche of a nation split by Brexit and ongoing culture wars.

There are, notably, very few entries from Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, which is a shame given that the films relate to all. While some shorts stand out more than others, some are occasionally too heavy-handed for the subtleties the subject requires.

The anthology’s greatest quality is its ability to find new spaces to begin new conversations. The film transcends the traditional depictions of Britain and instead presents it as the complex, troubling, diverse and inspirational place it is.

RATING: 4/5

Available to watch on: BFI player, Curzon Home Cinema and Apple TV


INFORMATION

CAST: Sally Bretton, Hugh Dennis, Steve Evets, Alice Lowe, Andy Hamilton

DIRECTOR: Various

WRITER: Various

SYNOPSIS: An anthology of twenty short films, each depicting life in contemporary Britain.