The Gallery review – bloody interactive treatise on post-Brexit Britain
Trenchant, thoughtful … Anna Popplewell in The Gallery
Viewers can choose the outcome of the characters in this cleverly assembled art-world thriller available on PC, console and your local screen
Interactive cinema has existed since the 1967 Czech film Kinoautomat, but remains niche, despite a brief flare-up of interest around Charlie Brooker’s choose-your-own-adventure Black Mirror episode Bandersnatch. British director Paul Raschid – ambitiously for a 30-year-old – specialises in tending these mind-boggling gardens of forking paths. His latest The Gallery is a trenchant and thoughtful post-Brexit treatise that can be played on PCs and consoles, but it’s also doing the rounds in cinemas, where the group experience – including voting by glowstick – could work something like a referendum on modern Britain, given the film’s state-of-the-nation bent.
The Gallery has two separate but symmetrical timelines in 1981 and 2021. Plus ça change: both spotlight a reeling and fractured Britain in which the Argyle Manor gallery, about to put on a portrait exhibition, becomes a microcosm for their respective social tensions. In the 1981 timeline, Morgan (Anna Popplewell), a young gallerist in a twinset, is taken hostage by bitter northern painter and would-be revolutionary Dorian (George Blagden). In 2021, Popplewell and Blagden switch roles, but the dilemma is the same: cede to the hostage-taker’s demands to hand over a prize portrait (of Thatcher in the first timeline; of a social-media influencer in the second), or get “Jackson Pollocked” by the bomb under their chair.