Clio Barnard’s incredible documentary The Arbor explores the life and legacy of playwright Andrea Dunbar. Concentrating its gaze on the run down estate in Bradford where Dunbar lived, the film comes to focus on the tumultuous life of her daughter, Lorraine, who was left alone at the age of 10 when her mother died in 1990 (aged only 29). Barnard tells this tragic story through a unique and genre-defying reconstruction.
Taking audio interviews of members of the Dunbar family and their neighbours, the director has the actors lip-sync with the recordings to create this mind-bending film filled with discordant yet complementary images. Beautifully shot, The Arbor intercuts performances of Dunbar’s plays, archive footage, and re-enacted real life situations, to create a dynamic and powerful mix of measured takes and varied perspectives. An affecting yet slick rendition of history, its striking authenticity of voice makes this one of the most interesting releases of the year.
The Arbor is released on DVD in the UK on Monday, 14 March.