"THEN said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know
not a man?" (Luke 1.34). Modern minds tend to be uncomfortable with
what cannot be explained in rational terms, which makes Debbie
Tucker Green's film Second Coming (Cert. 15) a brave
Jackie (Nadine Marshall) discovers she is pregnant, but knows
not how. Though she is happily married to Mark (Idris Elba, fresh
from playing Mandela), their relationship hasn't been sexual for
some time. Nor has she been involved with anyone else. They appear
to be a Christian family. Jackie's best friend Bernie (Sharlene
Whyte) is godmother to JJ (Kai Francis Lewis), the much loved
11-year-old son born after several miscarriages.
After undergoing a huge range of emotions over the situation,
Jackie becomes convinced that this is the Second Coming of Christ.
One might wish to point out that the New Testament Greek word
parousia refers to Christ's triumphal coming this time as
judge, not infant. No matter. As far as the film is concerned,
Jackie ponders this mystery in her heart for as long as she can. It
brings her no joy, only a troubled countenance that swiftly alerts
others that something is wrong.
The problem is that Jackie isn't telling. Her husband is
initially delighted until he does the arithmetic. JJ is caught in
the cross-fire between an enraged Mark and his near-silent wife,
who is unable to provide an explanation for the pregnancy. It's all
very frustrating, not least for the audience. A problem shared
might have become a problem we'd all get more interested in if only
I think Second Coming is meant to remind us of several
other films. JJ takes refuge in caring for a lame bird
(Kes). Outdoor scenes are set on Wimbledon Common which
parallel Antonioni's Blow-Up, another never-to-be-resolved
mystery. And, most of all, there is clear reference to
Solaris when rain seemingly pours over Jackie when
indoors. The new world she inhabits is of a different order.
Anything is possible.
In the Tarkovsky original, the psychologist Kris Kelvin is
summoned to a space station to assess strange goings-on, but he
himself shortly starts hallucinating. Likewise, Jackie begins
having visions. Are these psychotic or the work of God? It brings
us back to the essence of this film. There is a reality far
grander, more mysterious than one of surface appearances. And,
while the director does her best to retain our interest through a
whole bag of cinematic devices - I chuckled when the camera paused
in front of a Stork margarine carton - the film is often every bit
as slow as Tarkovsky can be.
Whether that is a problem will depend on the patience of the
viewer. Jackie's reaction to pregnancy may have differed from that
of the Blessed Virgin Mary, but in both situations there is a
palpable experience of transcendence.
On current release