After winning a BAFTA for his short film Boogaloo & Graham in 2014, Irish filmmaker Michael Lennox makes the jump to feature for his directorial debut A Patch of Fog. The suspenseful psychological thriller follows novelist and TV personality Sandy Duffy (Conleth Hill) who lives off of the success of a best-seller which gives the film its name. Not content with the luxurious lifestyle his book has given him, he develops a habit of shoplifting for thrills, loving the excitement of walking through the exit with stolen goods. Sandy gets off scot-free until he encounters secluded security guard Robert (Stephen Graham) who spots him dropping a pen into his pocket as he receives a phoney phone call. However, instead of prosecuting, he begins to blackmail the thief, threatening to expose the secret to ruin his reputation, and asks only for companionship in return for his silence.
The strangely intriguing premise offers a platform for an odd relationship to develop between the two central characters as they try to outwit each other, Sandy desperately trying to get rid of any incriminating evidence and Robert, in contrast, wanting to keep a hold over Sandy so that he has someone to call a friend. The screenplay, co-written by John Cairns and Michael McCartney, is very much character driven, and relies on the performances of Hill and Graham. Thankfully, they both deliver on all fronts, bringing out the complexity of the characters and the numerous layers of their personalities. Scenes with Sandy’s lover Lucy (Lara Pulver) help to development both the characters and the plot, and as more truths are uncovered, their paths lead to a bizarre finale.
Lennox’s carefully measured direction explores the personas of two men who at first glance would seem relatively ordinary, but have their flaws revealed by close examination as the camera stalks their every move. Stephen Graham’s brilliantly nuanced portrayal of a lonely soul counteracts effectively with Conleth Hill’s boldly confident turn, and although the futures and pasts of Robert and Sandy are quite often shrouded in a patch of fog, one thing that is as clear as day is the promise and potential in the craftsmanship of director Michael Lennox.