The director presents his most analogue title at Cannes, the story of a girl obsessed with guilt over the boy’s suicide. The director’s least complex film. Quinzaine
Even when Garland’s cinema moves away from it, it remains the emanation of a computational algebraic matrix. Common elements to Ex Machina and Annihilation, as well as the isolated spatial location in places far from the urban center, threatened by nature and ready to collect the noises that spread in the void, are the representation of an especially interior solitude. This time Garland chooses to multiply a body in an ideal characterization, that of Rory Kinnear, who gives life to almost all the male characters, from the homeowner, to the priest, to the inhabitants of the nearby village. We are in the English countryside where there is what you need: tranquility, silence, the possibility of hearing a friend on a video call to keep in touch with reality. Harper, the protagonist played by Jessie Buckley, is obsessed with guilt. She has rented a manoir, which will turn out to be a place of rupture and paradox of her disorder, to overcome the trauma of her husband’s suicide, driven insane by her divorce practice. We are facing another bond that breaks after those of Devs destroyed by the lies and superficiality of a world that seems to float in a suspended time torn by lies. The motivation of Men rather it raises problems of violence and moral blackmail of an agitated threat as a last hope.
The balance is broken when Harper eats an apple from the garden, original sin, until he collapses shortly after, when the structure shatters under the sound of his voice and awakens something unknown. The film is a psychological immersion, from the tunnel where you can hardly see the end, to the woods, to the church invaded by evil idols, a hidden, painful descent, essential passages before finding the light again. Music occupies the extremes, like a parenthesis, while the heart of the story lives on the suspense of rapt sounds and finds a way to fill the pauses within the expectation of a quiet precipitated into anguish. The landscape, once again endowed with a mysterious strength hidden in stillness, is here an expanded panorama of the mind, the aborted fantasy of a terrible moment. Polluted by the chaos of remorse, the house is besieged, loses defensive value to be transformed into a trap.
Drama, horror, comedy. Garland takes inspiration from many genres, but still leaves something personal, immediately recognizable and clear. In this last period what seems to interest him most is the inability, or perhaps it would be better to say the impossibility given the disastrous consequences, to accept the end of a love, a problem that mainly concerns men. Ava (Ex Machina), Lena (Annihilation), Lily and Katie (Devs), Harper, his female characters, are those with a preponderant personality, determination and courage. No doubt Men it’s his minus project technological and complex. The thematic analogies remain with the alienations of modernity in the symbiotic relationship with the ancient and the memory, calm and isolation of a destiny from which one cannot escape. The journey into a woman’s nightmare, where a smile appears on the horizon beyond the horror. Doing the sums not the best Garland, but in any case the continuation of a speech still to be written and traces to follow.
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