Baltimore received a number of positive reviews since its world and UK premieres at Telluride Film Festival and The BFI London International Film Festival. Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor’s film is based on real events that took place in April 1974 when English heiress, Rose Dugdale and three comrades carried out an armed art raid in an effort to support the IRA’s armed struggle. The film was mixed in Dolby Atmos by Fonic. Here is a roundup of the reviews!
Little White Lie described the film as a careful and idea-rich portrait, and Imogen Poots shines as activist, Rose Dugdale. Reviewer, David Jenkins, noted that Lawlor and Molloy have an abiding interest in disguises, alter-egos and the idea of people transmuting into different versions of themselves. Which Baltimore offers rich terrain on which these concepts can thrive. The review also mentions the soundtrack, which consists of eerie orchestral stabs – in fact, there’s no-one in the world who’s using the timpani in a more expressive and chilling fashion than Lawlor and Molloy.
The Hollywood Reporter described Baltimore as a concise and intimate film with Rose Dugdale played with a compelling mix of ferocity, focus and conscience by Imogen Poots. Another review that highlighted the score, describing Stephen McKeon’s work as, percussive, churning and sometimes thunderous, heightening the feelings of determination and apprehension that course through the movie’s events. Finally the review concluded: Baltimore doesn’t presume to ask you to root for her, but it invites you to understand what drives her.
In Their Own League described Imogen Poot’s performance as bold and unusual in a bold and unusual movie. Once again, reviewer, Sarah Manvel noted that writer-director-editors Lawlor and Molloy’s work tends to play with violence, grief and identity with Baltimore delving in to how art makes life worth living, even as a person tips from political activity into casual violence. Manvel also noted that the film tend towards nerve-shredding tension instead of gore, but it works; with no reason to look away the actors get to embody the violence instead of being upstaged by it.
The Playlist described it as an abstract, serrated and a barbed portrait and an artful look at actions and consequences. Acknowledging that Baltimore plays with many contemporary social issues that feel incredibly relevant today: privilege, wealth, class, social inequality, and similar matters of disparity that lead to extremism…. But the more personal human notions of sympathy, empathy, whilst looking at the emotional thermosphere of the story, which is one of claustrophobia, guilt, and the crushing inevitability of fate. Once again the score is noted, described as the most striking element of the film with its operatically doom and gloom score a chilling …..and unnerving clattering of percussion and sudden drum thwacks, atonal strings, and ominous horns as if he were composing for an eerie Stanley Kubrick that’s not quite horror, but still disturbing af.
With huge praise for Imogen Poots performance, the Indie Wire explained how she never over tips Rose’s vulnerabilities, but making them clearly legible to the audience, and the film is most engrossing when it allows her to showcase that inner turmoil. Explaining a moment in the film where this place out best, the reviewer, Wilson Chapman, explains that Molloy and Lawlor, aided by a sparse but menacing score from composer Stephen McKeon, direct these sequences smoothly, building the tension that threatens to snap Rose at any moment. The review concluded that watching a protagonist as compelling as her still makes for a thrilling 90 minutes and change.
Screen Daily explained how in the austere but crafted and subtle film, Baltimore pinpoint precisely what was so needy about Dugdale. A rebel looking for a cause. Describing the film as another high-end arthouse prospect for Lawlor and Molloy, but with every film they edge slightly more into the mainstream and this continues that route. Fionnuala Halligan acknowledged two significant assets in the film; Imogen Poots, whose deliberate delivery will be familiar to fans of Lawlor and Molloy’s work, is mesmerising. And in addition, the jarred edge to the film-making…which, when matched with a Berlioz-tinged score from Stephen McKeon, results in a sensation of almost constant, biting discomfit.
Described as an intelligent reflection on class, The Arts Desk noted that Molloy and Lawlor employ their customary cool detachment to proceedings, while adding a wry humour.
Loud and Clear noted the film as confident and highlights the scenes between Imogen Poots as Rose and her kindly neighbour-turned-liability (Dermot Crowley) which offer tension that they also found with the intrusive score.
Described as an intensely realised art-heist, essayistic thriller, and a penetrating and strange encounter with Dugdale. Independent Cinema Office explain Molloy and Lawlor present us with the paradoxes of liberation politics and armed struggle, its violence, righteousness and consequences, sensitively centred around Dugdale’s search for her identity and purpose in Baltimore. Selina Robertson commented that the key cast are all equally outstanding, as is the percussive, dissonant film score by Stephen McKeon and Tom Comerford’s astute cinematography.