Justine follows its titular character (Tallulah Haddon) over a period of three months, as her relationship with Rachel (Sophie Reid) develops and weathers its ups and downs.
The film opens with a quote from Ovid’s Heroides filling the screen, epigraph style: “Chance is always powerful. Let your hook always be cast; in the pool where you least expect it, there will be fish.” Justine and Rachel meet by chance, when Rachel sees Justine stealing the aforementioned text from a bookshop.
But before all of that, our first glimpse of Justine is in the bath. She is bloody, bruised, fully dressed. Her landlord is banging on the front door of her flat. She hasn’t paid her rent. The bathroom is grimy and badly lit.
We soon find out that Justine is an addict. The cashier at her local off-licence knows her by name, but she still slips 35cl bottles of vodka into her bag when he’s not looking. “What’s attractive about dying, Justine?” her therapist (Sian Reese-Williams) asks at one point. “Not feeling,” Justine replies, and the desire to open yourself up to a new relationship when you’re terrified of your own feelings is a constant battle that wages throughout the film.