Meewella | Critic

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Tag: Alicia Silverstone

QuickView: Reptile (2023)

“Everyone is a suspect.”

Tom Nichols

At the heart of Grant Singer’s thriller is a captivating performance by Benicio Del Toro, reminiscent of his turn in Sicario, as a beaten-down cop who’s past trauma and world-weariness inform his posture and movement as much as his expression, and one only wishes that this portrayal could be transferred to a more deserving film than Reptile. Over the course of a single investigation into the murder of a real estate agent, officer Tom Nichols comes to question the loyalty of everyone around him. Singer succeeds in replicating the ominous tension of Fincher’s thrillers, but he does so without modulation — to have the same unsettling tone pervade every inoccuous action for over two hours is artlessly gruelling. Likewise, plot developments arise suddenly and inorganically, with no clues for sharp-eyed viewers to pick up. The result is an exhausting experience for a rapidly disengaged audience. The supporting performances are generally adequate but hampered by the script, with only Alicia Silverstone standing out as Tom’s wife, acting as a sounding board and assisting his investigative process. The quality of Del Toro’s work is enough to keep us on the hook but, as Reptile reaches its inevitably violent conclusion after two hours, the audience certainly shares in Tom’s fatigue.


QuickView: The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)

The Killing of a Sacred Deer poster

“A surgeon never kills a patient. An anaesthesiologist can kill a patient, but a surgeon never can.”

Steven Murphy

Yorgos Lanthimos excels at capturing the disjointed nature of human connection, with conversations unfolding in fits and starts albeit using deliberately unnatural dialogue. This deeply allegorical tale is less accessible than The Favourite, bearing a greater tonal connection to The Lobster by way of Jordan Peele’s more unsettling worlds. Cinematography plays a major part in that disquiet: low, wide-angle tracking shots cause architecture to loom over characters, whilst unusually high shots peer down from a disembodied vantage. Colin Farrell is clearly in sync with Lanthimos’ style on the their second outing together, gradually revealing the layers of a surgeon with a god complex who is forced to confront his own hubris. Many of the locations are fittingly clinical, with rigid lines feeling at odds with the film’s loose logic. Knowing the plot in advance would weaken the film but passing familiarity with the Greek myth of Iphigenia is helpful in decoding its allusions. Ultimately Lanthimos is uncompromising in his vision — surely knowing that the result will appeal only to arthouse audiences — but his intentions are not always apparent onscreen.


QuickView: Catfight (2016)

Catfight poster

“I have nothing left to do in this life but destroy you.”


Billed as a comedic rivalry between reacquainted university frenemies, an unexpected second act turn reveals that writer/director Onur Tukel’s real focus is social satire against the backdrop of America entering another war in the Middle East. Dark comedy is often easier to stomach when bad things happen to bad people, but Catfight suffers from the fact that all of its characters are deeply unlikeable, with moments of relatability skewered by how they treat others. Even 90 minutes in their presence becomes tiresome as we struggle to care about their losses outside of the surprisingly unrestrained fights. This is no slight to the performances from the female-dominated cast: Sandra Oh is of course wonderful and Alicia Silverstone is a particular delight as an overeager prospective parent. Catfight deserves some credit as a bold and unusual picture but it meanders and ultimately cannot find a conclusion, meaning the audience leaves without the catharsis we typically seek from this kind of film.


"A film is a petrified fountain of thought."

(CC) BY-NC 2003-2023 Priyan Meewella

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