Note to self- Do. Not. Buy. Into. the. Controversy. Given more attention already than it deserves because of a suicide attempt scene that was edited and eventually cut the by the British censors, “Soulmate” is a tepid supernatural soap opera centered around a woman’s all-consuming love for an angst-ridden spirit.The filmmaker, Axelle Carolyn, can’t be bothered to let any mirth or light into this painfully self-serious and grim production.
Audrey (Anna Walton, who does a pretty decent job considering) is a bereaved Englishwoman whose husband Tristan (Richard Armitage)’s untimely death drives her to an ill-advised suicide attempt. Emotionally fragile, she abandons her worried sister and parents to take up residence in a Welsh cottage to wait her grief out. No sooner has she moved there than she begins to hear strange noises emanating from a locked room in the house.
The town-peoples’ refusal to offer any explanation for the strange sounds lead Audrey to seek out the entity behind the racket, who turns out to be a ghastly pale but still dapper spirit who died years before of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Small world. Not long after Audrey meets Douglas (Tom Wisdom,) the ghost, she begins to fall for his unearthly charms. But will the unusual romance result in Audrey giving herself to Douglas in death? And what exactly are the locals hiding?
First of all, the concept of a woman contemplating killing herself so she can lay a ghost bothers me. It’s not a feminist, nay, even a moral issue. But have you ever heard of a person’s bed being haunted by two apparitions fucking in that cold dark space between life and death? No, because it’s stupid. The whole concept fails at everything. Even if there was a possibility that deceased spirits could harness their ghostly genitals to copulate with each other, it doesn’t work in a film, because it sounds so silly.
Telekinetic brooding lovesick ghosts don’t really appeal to me. Moreover, I just didn’t really care about any of the characters. None of them seemed particularly real to me. The acting was fine, there was just something lacking that probably could have been built on in the film’s conception. Audrey isn’t a reprehensible or even an unpleasant character, but there’s no reason to root for her (beyond the hope that she will find a better way to deal with her depression than ending her life.) None whatsoever. Moreover, I didn’t find the lonely and despair-driven poltergeist Douglas all that compelling. He just is. Yeah, he’s haunting the house. Big whoop.
This might be a minor complaint, but I would think anyone who’s ever been halfway serious about suicide would know that you don’t slit your wrists in a bathtub when your sister’s scheduled to come home at any minute. A self-inflicted wound like that, however gruesome, takes time to kill you. Audrey decision to go all “Goodbye, cruel world” with her sister going out for a brief amount of time (when it’s highly probable that Audrey’s already on suicide watch) makes me wonder if she even really wanted to die at all, which is apparently what we’re supposed to believe.
“Soulmate” isn’t really a bad film, just overbearingly mediocre. There are, however, a few tense moments and atmosphere to spare. I recommend the more well-known alternative “The Others” for a really spooky Gothic chiller. It might be particularly behoove you to skip it if you are currently in a self-destructive state of mind or are vulnerable to that kind of imagery, especially since Netflix instant has the uncut (no pun intended) wrist-slitting sequence. It’s not worth an nervous breakdown, honest.