Vermilion is a kiwi made film about celebrity composer Darcy (Jennifer Ward-Lealand) who sees colours when she plays musical notes. She has a synaesthetic condition that connects her music to a mindscape of colour and shape. When she notices her usually subtle colours changing to intense red – vermilion – she realises she needs help.
In this interview with Andrew Whiteside, Ward-Lealand talks about why the film spoilt her, and why there aren’t as many good roles for older women in film.
More about the film:
Darcy, now in her fifties, arrived from Ireland as a child and grew up in 1970s Pasifika-centred Ponsonby with her Samoan friend Sila (Goretti Chadwick), who is now a high school English teacher. Sila, her husband Bjorn (Fasitua Amosa) and their daughter Issy (Tiger-Lily Cocker-Lemalie) live next door and both families treat each other’s houses as home. They’ve always been there for each other and that easy familiarity is needed more than ever in this summer of crisis for Darcy.
Darcy has a tense relationship with her daughter, Zoe (Emily Campbell) a junior doctor, and they keep important secrets from each other. Zoe feels Darcy left her behind while chasing her career dreams. She credits Sila and Darcy’s best friend, Sarah (Theresa Healey), with her upbringing – a source of pain for Darcy.
When Zoe suddenly reveals she’s marrying Frank (Guy Montgomery), Darcy, with a sense of urgency, takes over planning the wedding, while Zoe tries not to resist.
As the dresses are being made and endless food is prepared, Zoe’s bridesmaids gather around the pool while the flower girls, led by Issy, play dress-ups in anticipation of the veils and lace they want in their futures.
Sarah, a corporate lawyer, introduces Darcy to her lover, an Irish actor, Peter (Peter Feeney). They persuade him to take on a role he’s never played before. This, surprisingly, turns into a period of deep reflection for Darcy, in which she turns to her lover David (Will Wallace) for help.
Galvanised by the love of those close to her, Darcy returns to her keyboard and plays fearlessly into her new vermilion colourscape, creating music that celebrates the depth of those feelings.
While the house and garden is humming with the festive bustle of wedding activity, Darcy makes secret plans for another event.
Vermilion opens in New Zealand cinemas November 8th 2018.