(Kate Wyver’s article appeared in the Guardian, 7/4; Photo: Contrition mission … Cillian Murphy in All of This Unreal Time. Photograph: MIF.)
Central Hall, Manchester Central, and online
In a grimy and intense film installation, the actor unleashes a torrent of regret, superbly scripted by Max Porter
Cillian Murphy, wearing a black hoodie and heavy coat, is projected on to a giant screen in Manchester’s cavernous Central Hall. On a murky, sleepless night, he walks through city streets, confessing all that he is sorry for. Around us, the space is dark and thrumming, beams of blue light sweeping and blinding. The whole room is crackling. Grimy and electric, this new film installation, a collaboration between Murphy and the writer Max Porter, is exquisitely intense.
In dripping tunnels, car parks and abandoned roads, Murphy performs with a wide-eyed despair. His apologies are wide-ranging and told without self-pity. Some funny, some sad, they encompass the violence and failures of previous generations. Under torrential rain, his unnamed character’s words are spewing, purging, searching for a way out.
Porter’s prose is recognisably strange and beautiful. His novels have played with the way sound works on the page. Here, you can feel the delight in writing to be read aloud. Working under Murphy’s barrage of regrets and missed opportunities, the score by Jon Hopkins, Aaron Dessner and Bryce Dessner is sublime. With binaural layers of expansive piano and breathy synths, the loud, pummelling soundscape feels as if it’s pushing its way inside you.