Meewella | Critic

According to P

Tag: Thimios Bakatakis

QuickView: Una (2016)

“I don’t know anything about you except that you abused me.”

Una

Content Warning: child sexual abuse

Rooney Mara delivers an utterly absorbing performance as Una, a woman who has decided to confront the man who sexually abused her as a teenager, in an effort to understand and reclaim her past. David Harrower’s script delves into shades of grey in the emotions and motivations of the pair, but not in culpability — even Ray makes no attempt to justify his actions, only to contextualise his feelings, a fine line that Ben Mendelsohn deftly navigates through quiet chemistry with Mara. Una is deeply uncomfortable to watch, and there is a disparity between the memories recalled in conversation and the flashbacks to a fragile thirteen-year-old, ensuring the viewer never loses sight of the victim. Most remarkable about this translation from stage to screen is its use of space and light. The conversations between Ray and Una shift between rooms in a deliberately sparse warehouse with only artificial light: clinically white when the lights are on, and shrouded in darkness when off. This lighting parallels Ray’s past being dragged into the harsh light, yet he often finds it easier to admit to concealed truths in the dark. Throughout the middle section of the film, Ray’s colleagues relentlessly search the building for him, a metaphor for his past catching up with him. Whilst this adds a sense of urgency, the dialogue flounders as the conversation becomes repetitive. The final third of the film shifts to other locations which is necessary to push the story forward, but in the process loses some of the caged tension that drove the film. It allows us to appreciate how prison was finite punishment for Ray but it provided no closure to Una’s relationship with him, this inability to move on leaving her emotionally stunted, using promiscuity in an artificial attempt to reassert control.

7/10

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.

7/10

"A film is a petrified fountain of thought."

(CC) BY-NC 2003-2023 Priyan Meewella

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