Hoard Review

Foster kid Maria (Saura Lightfoot-Leon) finds herself drawn to an elusive visitor (Joseph Quinn) — triggering a hoarding habit passed down from her mother (Hayley Squires).

by Iana Murray |
Published on
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Perhaps it comes as no surprise that a film named Hoard is, well, disgusting. Everyday trash is one young woman’s treasure, and muck and grime communicate the extremities of humanity in Luna Carmoon’s prickly drama, which draws inspiration from the director’s own life. This is an uncompromising film that’s unafraid to wade in discomfort, for better or for worse.

In its bisected story, Hoard first introduces the young Maria (initially played by Lily-Beau Leach), whose close loving relationship with her mother (Hayley Squires) is laid bare in their “catalogue of love”. In the evenings, they rummage round local bins, hoping to find little treasures to adorn their home: a hoarder’s paradise where stuffed bin bags cover the floors, tin cans dangle from ceilings and unopened books are stacked immeasurably high. Squires is captivating as a hardened mother with so much love to give that it lines every surface, but she’s let down by a hammy, overly sentimental twist.

Hoard gleefully explores intimacy at its grossest.

Following tragedy, an 18-year-old Maria (Saura Lightfoot-Leon) is now living in a spotless foster home, lazing away the summer after sixth form — when she locks eyes with Michael (Joseph Quinn), a binman visiting his former foster mother. Their chemistry verges on something primal, evident in the ways they chase each other on all fours and growl with hunger, suggestive of Maria’s sexual awakening. Their undefinable relationship is only compounded by the recent passing of Maria’s mother, causing Maria to smuggle rubbish into her bedroom once again. The volatile combination of love and grief is projected onto every trinket, and the detailed production design only amplifies its all-consuming nature.

As Maria’s connection to Michael grows stronger, their interactions mutate into something bizarre and corporeal, forging their bond in saliva and dirt. Hoard gleefully explores intimacy at its grossest, and Lightfoot-Leon delivers a thrilling, uninhibited performance, but some of Maria’s actions appear nonsensical, untethered to any genuine motivation. Of course, grief often defies explanation, but the film loses itself in its provocations. And while it brings rich texture to the mundanities of Maria’s life, its meandering pace is especially felt in a bloated runtime of over two hours.

Still, there is so much to admire in a debut — a British one at that — that’s willing to be so audacious and abrasive from the outset. Carmoon’s film is proudly messy in the most literal sense. Its sensuality is so visceral, it’s as if you can smell the stench of Maria’s stockpile on you. Best to take a shower afterwards.

Luna Carmoon’s grimy study of loss might ultimately be too strange for its own good. Nevertheless, this debut boldly announces the arrival of one of Britain’s most promising new filmmakers.
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