Foreword by Eleanor Davies:
Till Death Us Do Part is the final chapter in James Barnett’s documentary film trilogy exploring the life decisions of three of his closest friends.
James has been collecting footage since 2011. The process began as random recordings of everyday interactions and encounters, but after sifting through these snippets, a clear and telling narrative emerged.
Setting off on a journey of discovery, motivated by a middle class romanticism and a desire to find a true sense of one’s self, the film offers us intimate snapshots of James’s closest and dearest: Poppy French, William Potter and his twin sister Miriam Barnett.
It’s a cathartic journey, exposing feelings of pity and fear. The resuscitation of the bath through frantic plunging, the dredging up of a dank and monstrous hairball, becomes a tragicomic cleansing ritual. It marks a new chapter, and a new dawn for one of the film’s protagonists (if not all of them).
There is nothing like a wedding invitation in the form of a fridge magnet from an old school friend to incite anxiety in one’s self. A familiar checklist flashes and flits through the mind:
Dream job
Financially stability
Jogging regularly
Retirement plan
Funeral flowers
This mantra accompanies us throughout our lives, sitting uncomfortably at the back of our minds. James confronts us with it at every given opportunity; the enlarged, titular captioning of the Acts - the mantra becomes bigger, louder, shrill, and hysterical even. The mantra is unavoidable. Poppy hopes to marry long-term partner Sholto, William dreams of moving to London, a land of promise, and Miriam just wants to live in her own home.
2015 marks the 50th Golden Wedding Anniversary of James’ parents. They met in a choir singing at weddings and funerals. They say marriage is ‘hard work’, making it sound like window cleaning or sweeping away the cobwebs. We are all guilty of simplifying the past, rationalising our decisions, and carving out narratives for ourselves.
The present is often chaotic, slippery, then hard to get a grip of, and James has captured and embraced this ambivalence in his film.

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