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Split Film Review: Iris Brey Excels

A woman holds a book and reads to another woman while sitting in the park in the 2024 film Split, from BFI Flare

Split is a fiery directorial debut from Iris Brey, following a stuntwoman who confronts her boyfriend when she realises she’s in love with a woman.

Split was screened at BFI Flare as a dazzling 100 minute feature film, opposed to the 5 episode mini-series it was originally made as. It’s like binge-watching a tv show you just can’t get enough of. Instead of watching on your computer at home, it’s on the big screen. A title card greets the beginning of every episode, as well as the end credits to wrap up each 20-minute segment, but it’s still fluid enough to feel like a film. All of the episodes end on a cliffhanger, so it’s convenient that you are able to see the outcomes right away. Both lead actresses are so sumptuous that you can’t help but want more even after the final end credits roll.

Alma Jodorowsky plays Anna, a stuntwoman in her 30s. Anna is in a happy heterosexual relationship with a DOP, Natan (Ralph Amoussou), and adores that she gets to work with her partner in her day-to-day life. On her latest project, Anna shadows Eve (Jehnny Beth), a reputable actress and singer that she grows fond of. Doubts start to form in Anna’s head about her relationship with Natan when she realises that she’s developing feelings for Eve. Anna and Eve begin spending time together outside of set, getting closer and more intimate the more they talk and reveal to each other about their lives. Confrontation is on the cards for Anna when thoughts of her sexuality begin to overwhelm her, knowing that she’s been living a lie for all of these years.

Writer-director Iris Brey based the core of Split on her own personal experience of coming out later in life. Leaving Heteosexuality, for Brey, was so important. It’s a story which needed to be captured and shown to the world. Not only does Split tackle the stigma around having doubts about your sexuality, but it also deals with grief and sexual abuse. It’s a well rounded story that never feels too pushy. The female gaze is at the centre of each storyline, diving into the way in which women see themselves and other women. When Anna and Eve start becoming romantically involved with each other, you can tell it was written and directed by women (Brey and co-writer Clémence Madeleine-Perdrillat) and not men. It’s extremely unrestrained and raw, which is rarely seen between two women in both film and tv.

A woman dressed in blue looks at a woman wearing a white t-shirt in the 2024 film Split, from BFI Flare
Split (Have a Good One / BFI Flare 2024)

Jodorowsky and Beth play two of my favourite leads of the year. Learning more about their characters and how they live their personal lives feels just as important as the time they spend together. Anna has been living a peaceful and easy-going life with Natan, residing together in a rustic space, spending quality time with friends and even trying for a baby. On the other hand, Eve has been in the limelight, acting in major roles and touring the world with her music career. When Anna and Eve meet, it’s like something shifts for both of them. There’s so much passion even in the glances they make at one another. If you walked into the room and both of them were there, you’d be able to feel the electricity they exhume just by being there.

Whether you see Split as the 100-minute extravaganza or watch each episode individually, you’ll be sure to have a spellbinding time. Lesbian cinema is well and truly alive. Thank you Iris Brey!

Split was screened at BFI Flare on March 15-16, 2024. Read our BF Flare reviews and our list of 10 films to watch at BFI Flare!

Split Trailer (Have a Good One / BFI Flare 2024)
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