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Jellyfish review - Liv Hill shines in a tragically beautiful coming of age story


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Verdict: A tragic and beautiful tale about a young girl who discovers her passion for stand up comedy, displaying a moving performance from young actor Liv Hill.

 At the age of 15, how many of us could have managed running a household all alone? My guess is not very many, yet being left to fend for herself is something that Sarah Tyler is good at. At 15 years old, this young girl must balance troubles way beyond her abilities as she is left to manage the household, care for her manic-depressive mother and two younger siblings, as well as attempting to manage her job at a Margate arcade under the supervision of her overbearing boss.

Sarah, played brilliantly by Liv Hill, is smart, sharp and uncompromising, displaying a surprisingly relentless attitude despite the hand she has been dealt in life.

Image Credit: Republic Film Distribution

Jellyfish was filmed on location in Margate, and the setting seems to almost become a character itself within the film, keeping us in a place that is as cold and unforgiving as the situations Sarah often finds herself in.

This poor girl doesn’t even have a bed to call her own. One heartbreaking scene shows how Sarah sacrifices everything for her younger siblings, in the place of their absentee mother. The darkness quite literally closes in on this little family as their mother forgets to pay the power bill, and you can feel her desperation and sadness, thus making Sarah a relatable and heartfelt character, burdened with an exaggerated sense of what eldest children feel all across the world.

Surprisingly enough it is school that provides the small outlet of release in Sarah’s life, and becomes the one place where she can find joy. Her drama teacher, played by Cyril Nri, whilst incredibly strict seems to have a soft spot for Sarah, giving her a suggestion that sparks an outlet for her to direct her ferocious rage and energy into something productive.

Image Credit: Republic Film Distribution

As the movie progresses the camera work does a great job at displaying Sarah’s growth. Each time a personal tragedy or upheaval occurs in her life, she begins to write it down and fashion it into a joke - even in the most truly tragic of circumstances.


Credit must be given to Liv Hill for her passionate performance, and her incredible ability to play ferocity and vulnerability in equal measure. It would have been easy to make Sarah’s character annoying or unsympathetic to the audience, as she is a character full of rough edges - but yet so are most 15-year-old girls.


Jellyfish is not an action or plot-driven story, but a character-driven narrative that showcases each actor within their role - whether it be the young, struggling protagonist, the teacher who truly has his students best interests at heart, or the overwhelmed mother who is out of her depth, and cruelly mocks her daughter's passion without a thought.

As her love of comedy grows, Sarah is forced to disrupt the balance of her carefully preserved life, as she throws caution to the wind and takes the chance to pursue what has quickly become her passion.

Like the late great Carrie Fisher once said, “take your broken heart, and make it into art”. And whilst her routine is indeed dark Sarah tries to do exactly that, telling audiences: “I don’t consider my life chaos. It’s emotionally action-packed.” Which is ultimately the best way to describe both this film, and how you feel while watching it.


Although deeply tragic, Jellyfish is ultimately a captivating and deeply moving tale about the love between family, however chaotic they may be. For people who want to laugh, and also to cry, you can find both here in equal measure.

There will be public screenings with additional Q+A sessions held after certain screenings, with the director and cast. The dates and information can be found below.

GFT Glasgow / Monday 11th Feb

Rio Dalston / Wednesday 12th Feb

Picturehouse Central / Friday 15th Feb

Jellyfish is released in UK cinemas on February 15th.

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