Lynne Ramsay’s terrifyingly-tense-trailered thriller finally arrived on limited national release recently (no Odeon outside out London played it…shame on you Odeon!) and I had to forgo my Limitless card and actually pay ten whole pounds to watch this at Poole Lighthouse Arts Centre, but I’m very glad I did.
The film is a quiet, sombre and still affair. There are no flashy histronics, no quick cuts, no ‘Bayhem’, no Liam Neeson growling panicky orders at people.
It’s the kind of kitchen-sink thriller that the British Film Board or the Bord Na Scannan makes so well (it’s actually a Film Four Production filmed in Cincinnati; like New York, but much poorer). Of course I’m not going to detail the plot because this is one of those films you really should just watch without knowing anything about it.
Safe to say though, that Joaquin Phoenix puts in yet another, hypnotic, marvellously unpredicttable and physically imposing performance with his paunchy (but clearly hard-as-nails) physique and thousand-yard stare.
Lynne Ramsay’s sparse and minimalist direction is reminiscent of the Clint Eastwood-directed thrillers, such as ‘Play Misty For Me’ and ‘Gran Torino’. This is echoed in the film’s lean 89 munite running time and means that this film does not hang about and is also perfectly paced too.
The story arc is thrilling and, at times, unbearably tense, yet with quiet, langorous scenes of familial bonding that still feel entirely natural within the film, despite its frequent scenes of appalling violence.
The film has a few gently amusing moments but this is by-no-means a cheerful watch (just as intended). This film shows the appalling consequences of violence and the ripple effect it can often have.
Much like Jeremy Saulnier’s mesmerising ‘Blue Ruin’ and James Wan’s fantastically under-rated ‘Death Sentence’, this film is not afraid to show how a revenge can spiral very badly out of control.
Fans of Lynne Ramsay’s previous sparse-yet-horrrifying effort ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’ are also certain to find much to love here.
Lean, mean, excrutiatingly violent and as precise as a Swiss watch, this is my second favourite film of the year after Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Phantom Thread’.
Definitely not for the faint-hearted, this is one thriller that really delivers, right up until it’s grimly ambiguous final scene.
Project Square Eyes – Sunday July 15th 2018