Sarah Gordon’s The Edit exhibits a lot of the familiar features that come with a big break-up. After two years of not speaking, Elena (Serena Manteghi) visits Nick (Jamie Wilkes) at the flat they used to share. She’s moving to Paris, and she’s picking up that camera she left to take with her. He offers wine; she stays and has a glass. Then they have another one. They slip back, effortlessly guided by routine rhythms that dictate behaviour, like muscle memory, before they even have a chance to shake it off. It’s a dance they know in their bones.
I keep imagining Elena’s friends pleading with her not to see Nick — ‘Just buy a new camera! Hell, I’ll buy one for you!’ and ‘El, what good do you think will come of it?’ But in no great surprise, she shrugs off any such warnings and pines for the word that so often appears in agony aunt columns and last-dregs-of-wine conversations. The Edit is a familiar, tender, yet slight encounter between two people who are desperately seeking closure.
Maybe it’s because it’s about a scenario that’s so well recognised, but The Edit feels very much by-the-book. It unravels cleverly but predictably, precisely in the ways Elena’s imagined friends could have forecasted. Gordon’s script is tight, and is at its best when Elena and Nick try and retry to revise, remove and correct, all to pinpoint with precision the underlying answer that explains their relationship. Inevitably, and unsurprisingly, what they find are not answers but realisations: neither can fully own the story of their relationship because it is, after all, a thing of two halves.
Designer Lydia Denno places this modern, sleek flat under a forensic lens. Orange perimeters enclose each object: the coffee table, bookshelves, even the leaves from the plant on the wall. Everything is torturously examined like pieces of evidence, revisited and rehashed. It adds a compelling visual register to The Edit that augments the script’s symbolism.
Manteghi and Wilkes also have good chemistry, particularly when dancing to a slightly too quiet David Bowie. A few initial beats feel overstretched, but they settle in nicely as they discuss Nick’s surprisingly successful self-published book, and Elena’s past abusive relationships. Manteghi’s Elena laughs through her most painful realities, and really convincingly portrays that relatable desire to stay forever and leave immediately all at once.
Yet, like the Bowie, their meeting seems muted. It’s hard to grasp how this reunion ripples for both Elena and Nick independently; these encounters continue to ache, often in unexpected ways. We don’t see any of that: while The Edit makes sense of that desire for closure, it doesn’t interrogate it. And restricted by its naturalistic setting, it never fully reverberates. Unlike Elena’s friends, I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s not worth the closure, I’d just ask what happens when she gets it.