“God’s Creatures” is a drama film that directly pits a mother’s quality of being protective of her son against that of being a woman herself with a clean conscience. The protagonist, Aileen, is made to go through this dilemma, and her struggles become the center of the film. The established shape of patriarchy in society in the context of the plot also becomes a focus here, and overall, “God’s Creatures” is an intriguing film asking questions, although no new ones.
‘God’s Creatures’ Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?
The film is set in a quaint Irish fishing town by the sea with a close-knit community and a fish processing unit as the main business in the area. Aileen is a woman working at this very business as one of the team leaders, and she seems to be well known in the community as well. The people in the town, mostly the women, stick with each other through thick and thin, be it during common work breaks or the unexpected and sad loss of a close family member. One such thing occurs when a woman named Mary loses her son to the treacherous sea, and her colleagues and also the rest of the town gather around her for comfort and consolation. Aileen’s own family is introduced, as she lives with her husband Con and his old father, Paddy, who cannot speak or move on his own. She also has a daughter named Erin, who has recently become a mother to a baby son, and Aileen spends much of her leisurely time looking after this baby while Erin works. Outside of her family, Aileen is close to a much younger colleague, Sarah, who happens to be Erin’s childhood best friend as well. On the day of the funeral, as Aileen, Erin, and Sarah sit together, another of their family members makes a sudden appearance. Aileen’s son, Brian, had gone away from his home and country to Australia and had kept no contact with his family for seven long years. It is now, seven years later, that he returns home. Aileen is jubilant at this return, for she had longed to go meet her son or even know about him for so long but could not do either since Brian stayed detached. The rest of the family perhaps do not forget as easily and forgive so readily as the mother, though, as Erin’s greeting of her brother is a little more formal. Con’s reaction is even more formal, as the father and son, who had their differences in the past, only share a handshake. Brian now tells his family that he has returned to Ireland with a plan to restart the old business that Paddy used to run catching and harvesting oysters.
How Does Aileen Deal With The Dilemma Inside Her Mind?
After returning home, Brian starts to go out to the oyster farm and restart it with the help of his parents. The exact reason as to why Brian had left the country in the first place or what he had been up to in Australia remains unmentioned. However, the way his character works and thinks raises more doubts about his past, and beyond a point, it can even be doubted whether the man had actually gone to Australia at all. Once he starts to sell the oyster harvests, Brian also tries out illegal ways like trading salmon or even going out to harvest at times when it is not legal to do so. He also seems to get involved with a group of local goons or henchmen who run these illegal trades cutting away the profits of lawful fishing units. During his time spent with his mother, the two do talk about things, but nothing particular about his past is ever brought up. On one such night, when the mother and son go out for a drink at the local pub, they run into Sarah there. The young woman was known for having a beautiful singing voice and also having a troubled relationship, if not a marriage, with another fish supplier named Francine. Seven or so years earlier, though, Sarah and Brian had had a close, and romantic relationship, which had come to an end either before Brian went away or because he did so. Now in the present, Brian sees her at the pub and approaches her with friendly words. It soon becomes clear that he wants to rekindle that old romance, but Sarah quickly lets him know that she has no such interest anymore. Aileen perhaps feels that it would be best for her to leave the place and situation, and she returns home, leaving Brian alone.
The next morning, while at work, Aileen notices Sarah acting strange and keeping to herself. Work itself halts as well when a batch of oysters is found with fungus on them, and as everyone tries to react to this sudden news, Sarah faints and falls to the ground. Her colleagues rush to her aid, and Aileen tries to hold her up, but Sarah sharply tells her not to touch her. In the next few days, Sarah does not turn up to work at all, and Aileen gradually suspects something is wrong. It is not difficult to add up the events and take a guess at what had happened, and Aileen, too, is very aware of this, but she perhaps decides to keep these thoughts away and instead waits for someone else to tell her. This does happen a few days later when she is asked to visit the local police station, where she is told that a woman has brought accusations of physical and sexual assault against Brian, and the officer asks her for his whereabouts on that particular night. The date and place of the report all match with Aileen’s evening spent at the pub with her son, but her first reaction is to save Brian. She lies to the police that Brian had indeed spent the evening and night with her in their house, as he himself had claimed, and that he had not left home at all. Soon she asks Brian about it, but her tone is never confrontational and instead still seems like she would support her son no matter what. Brian explains how they had gotten drunk and done things, but he says that it was nothing too different from the things they used to do when they were in a relationship earlier.
This very perspective seems to become the terribly wrong and sexist view that the whole town, or at least the men of the place, takes on the matter, and this is what “God’s Creatures” want to focus on. To the mostly conservative and traditional community, the fact that Sarah had once been with Brian by her consent took away the fact that she was now raising a complaint about her being assaulted by him. People casually brush it off, and the men in the pub also rowdily laugh it off, providing all the support they can to the accused Brian. When Sarah and a friend go to get a drink, the bartender denies them service, and although he does not say anything, it is very clear that it is his means of “punishing” a woman who has made false accusations. All of this is even more heightened when the court hearing also takes a similar perspective. The judge, a man, of course, immediately rules it out, saying that there was not enough evidence to prosecute and even remarks that the charge should not have been brought to court due to its unprovable nature. Brian’s colleagues and friends had helped in this matter as well, as the men who had been questioned all covered for him. If it is to be asked why the people of the community did so, the first and obvious answer would be that Brian had convinced them that it had been nothing out of the ordinary, that Sarah was not willing at first, and that he had to only talk her into it. Beyond this, though, it is also heavily implied that Brian could do such a convincing job because it was much easier for him as a man, as the community chose to believe the male figure. The place and people shown remain largely patriarchal, much like most other places in the world, where men can get away with certain things that women can never even imagine. This is also subtly portrayed by the silent and invalid Paddy, who is capable enough to slap Aileen when the two of them are alone, even though he cannot do anything else for himself. Interestingly enough, it is only Brian who can somewhat communicate with Paddy, as he makes the old man miraculously sing with him, and this perhaps further highlights the similarity between the two men, even though they are of different generations.
Along with the perspective of the men, “God’s Creatures” deals with that of the women as well, as the women of the community either remain silent or hushed about the matter. Even if they talk about it, they do so amongst themselves in whispers, as has been the norm of the place. The only ones providing support to the grieving Sarah are her colleague Sheila and her childhood best friend, Erin. In this sense, Erin comes out looking the strongest, as she goes against her mother for supporting her brother’s actions. She directly asks Aileen at one point why she was choosing to be blind toward the woman’s perspective and instead choosing to support Brian. A sense of neglect because she was a girl seems considerable here, for Brian had always been the apple of his mother’s eye from his very young days. At the time, Aileen has no answer, but within a few days, her conscience starts to upset her as well. She had perhaps been hoping that the law and the courts would take the harsh decision of punishing her son, but ultimately it is she who has to do the difficult job. Even though it is extremely difficult for her to do so, Aileen decides to take a stand against her own son in her own way.
‘God’s Creatures’ Ending Explained: What Happens To Brian And Sarah?
Paddy passes away, and a funeral is held for him, in which Sarah also comes to pay her respect. She offers her condolences to Con and to Erin but chooses to say nothing to Aileen. With Brian, her reaction is fiercer, as she spits on his face, and Aileen steps in to prevent any harm from being done to Sarah. That night, the family gathers at the pub, and Brian brings with him a young woman as a date. Aileen has had enough by now and walks up to the two, politely asking the woman to go home. Brian reacts angrily to his mother, and Con steps in. The two men have a terrible brawl in public, and Aileen has to take her husband home alone. The next day, she goes to the oyster farm where Brian has been working. The wasteful son seems reluctant to admit any mistake of his own, and it is now that Aileen decides to let her motherly love go for good. She tells Brian to get away from their family as she wishes to keep no contact with him, and then waddles her way to the boat as the high tide sets in. Brian is unmindful of this, and by the time he notices and tries to walk toward the boat, it is too late. Aileen does hear her son’s cries for help, but she chooses to let nature punish him instead, and Brian is swept away by the strong tide.
A funeral is held, and life returns to normalcy after a few days. Aileen hears of Sarah leaving the town, and she goes to meet her. She apologizes to the young woman and asks her to stay back, but Sarah feels that her time is indeed up in this small fishing town. She recalls overhearing her parents having fights in the house and the subsequent crying of her mother and says that she would often hear the wind make the same wailing sound when she was in a relationship with Brian. Now also, even after everything was over, she hears the same sound, for she has realized the same patriarchal inhibitions are instilled in the very air of the place itself. It is with this recognition that Sarah drives away in her car, and a sense of calm happiness seems to set in on her.
“God’s Creatures” is a 2022 Drama film directed by Saela Davis and Anna Rose Holmer.