Jaywick. Recently named as the most deprived place in England by the U.K Government. A town that once was a thriving holiday destination for East Londoners, now an apparently desolate seaside location that faces freezing winters and devastating floods.
Jaywick Escapes is a documentary by film makers Karen Guthrie and Nina Pope, who’s back catalogue consists of various documentaries and film projects. However, to say documentary is somewhat limiting. This is more than that.
Detailing the lives of some of the town’s inhabitants in an unobtrusive yet investigative manner, delving into the personal lives behind the closed doors of the shacks that face the seafront. With a sense of the innocent observer, the camera cuts between some of the town’s characters, detailing their troubled past and uncertain future as they exist in limbo in an environment that seems to remain constant, neither progressing or degrading.
To a viewer who has never experience life in this way, Jaywick Escapes is a lesson in depravity and human spirit. Each individual has their own troubles to over come, from untimely family deaths, loss of children to Social Services and money worries, they overcome this with a sense of tenacity that proves that human spirit and coming together is something far stronger than our every day troubles.
The cinematography views the town with an ironic beauty, focussing on the small details that make the bigger picture. And opens our eyes to the gritty reality that the economy is not necessarily as bright as some may assume.
Interestingly, despite the depravity, Jaywick has gained status as a haven for peace, with many of the individuals residing their to get away from stressful lives in London, where they had drug and family issues.
The inhabitants of Jaywick seem spellbound by its simplicity and pace of life. And although their is a feeling that they desire more and that Jaywick may not be their future, it is, at least for now, a place to gather their thoughts and find inner peace before moving on with their lives.
This documentary becomes more of a portrait of a town and an investigation of the characters within it, poised with the beautiful perfection of observation without manipulation, letting stories and characters develop naturally and open up to produce a film that is touching, emotional, shocking and beautiful.