The archetypal tough guy from London’s East End, or one man grappling with his emotions?

‘I just wanna be normal, cos obviously normal I’m not.’

In an east London garage, Darren, a mechanic, oscillates between the highs and lows of his relationship with his French girlfriend, and regret (plus a bit of relish) over the pub brawls and bloody fights that have landed him in prison more than once. As the film unfolds, Darren’s tough-guy exterior cracks apart, revealing a raw sensitivity and emotional vulnerability beneath. Imaginatively conceived, shot and edited by the London-based filmmakers Gemma Atkinson and Fred Grace, Oil & Water is simultaneously a captivating refraction of a troubling masculinity in crisis, and a complex profile of one man grappling with who he is.

Director: Gemma Atkinson, Fred Grace

Website: Fat Rat Films

Support Aeon

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview.

But we can’t do it without you.

Become a Friend for $5 a month or Make a one-off donation

Essay/Mental Health

The usefulness of dread

My anxiety has been lifelong but I would not wish it away. It has made me the philosopher – and person – that I am today

Samir Chopra

Video/Love & Friendship

How a family feud threatens to tear apart the oldest interracial newlyweds in the US

30 minutes

Idea/Psychiatry & Psychotherapy

What was the beguiling spell of Jung’s ‘collective unconscious’?

Antonio Melechi

Video/Self-Improvement

Born with deformed limbs, Chau pursues his dreams by learning to paint with his mouth

34 minutes

Essay/Personality

Why we love tyrants

Psychoanalysis explains how authoritarians energise the hatred, self-pity and delusion while promising heaven on Earth

David Livingstone Smith

Idea/Neuroscience

Planes don’t flap their wings: does AI work like a brain?

Grace Lindsay