It’s been a long road getting to this film’s release. After its initial Cannes premiere back in May 2017, and appearances in subsequent film festivals all throughout the globe, including the Sydney Film Festival, which is where I caught this back in June, it’s finally hitting Australian shores next week. Yet, after a year of non-stop hype and praise, the bold and daring thriller still managed to exceed all expectations. It’s the piercing visual style of We Need To Talk About Kevin implemented into an uncompromisingly brutal narrative, and it works oh so very well.
The film plays out as a violent unraveling of Joe’s deluded reality. It’s a film almost entirely devoid of exposition, using some of the sharpest editing in recent memory, as well as a series of chilling close ups, to create a vivid sensation of who this character is. Ramsey’s direction is very restraint, yet there’s a strong feeling of underlying subtext in every shot, every line, and every minuscule movement of Phoenix’s performance. Most of the violence plays out off screen, but you feel the impact of every blow he makes.
It’s almost unbelievable how simple this movie is. It moves at such a brisk pace, and yet, it’s complete. I got more out of this 89 minute than I have in entire eight season television shows. This isn’t necessarily a movie about the story, but instead, the craft and the characters take us on a depraved journey through an insidious part of life that pounds its way into the core of your very being. Ramsey slowly unravels layer after layer, hurtling us towards a final, unforgivable act of violence. The past sticks with us. And it sucks. But this film makes you feel everything.
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