A Bigger Splash

A rockstar, a record producer, a documentary-maker and a recently discovered illegitimate daughter go on holiday…

The hardest thing I suspect I will find about writing this review is overusing the adjective ‘beautiful’ and its various synonyms, because that is what A Bigger Splash is. Beautiful. Beautiful cast in beautiful scenery that is beautifully shot and with a story that is beautifully told.

Marianne Lane (Tilda Swinton) is a rockstar of arena-like proportions. After surgery on her throat and vocal chords renders her mute for several weeks (as part of her post-operative recovery) she decides to go into reclusion with her partner Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts). They are staying on the remote Italian island of Pantelleria when their weeks of nudity and nookie are interrupted by the arrival of her ex-producer and ex-lover Harry (Ralph Fiennes), who has brought with him Penelope (Dakota Johnson) who recently discovered that Harry is her father. What follows will test the ties of fraternity, paternity and sexuality with catastrophic consequences.

The events of the film play out in a way that is unpredictable, sweaty and bitterly humorous. This is Swindon and Fiennes at the top of their respective games. Due to her character’s temporary muteness Swindon has little dialogue; the few lines she does say are husky and barely audible. Instead she says entire monologues on matters of the heart with her facial expressions – bitter rage, frustration, mortification, adoration and admiration shown through looks. A less-skilled actress would be constricted by her characters damaged vocal chords; instead what could be a limitation showcases the true skill Swindon possesses. The grace and manner of her movements and expressions, along her facial expressions, bring Marianne Lake: Rock Star to life. Both when painted in David Bowie-esque costume and make-up and when wearing nothing at all, it feels like you are watching the life of a real, if fatally flawed, person.

At 52, with countless film and theatre credits which demonstrate his mastery, it is incredibly impressive that Fiennes can still surprise. His Harry Hawkes is a bundle of raw energy, a magnetic charisma who dominates each scene. Along with providing the funniest moments of the film (and a dance sequence to The Rolling Stones that I challenge you to be able to watch without averting your eyes in bewildered embarrassment) he demonstrates the mythical fine line between comedy and tragedy. Harry Hawkes is a man who uses his charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent to mask much inner-darkness. His self-destructive descent into hedonism is (dance sequence aside) utterly enthralling.

It’s a pleasure to see Schoenaerts on the big screen again, roughly 10 months since the release of Far from the Madding Crowd and his enamouring take on loyal and noble Gabriel Oak. His character here, Paul, is one who initially appears to have fewer layers than his romantic partner and love rival, but this proves that appearances can be deceptive. He is currently one of the most interesting and underappreciated supporting actors in cinema at the moment, and I greatly look forward to seeing more of his (admittedly rather beautiful) self.

And then there’s Dakota Johnson, of 50 Shades of Grey infamy. What A Bigger Splash succeeds in doing is adding another reason for why Shades is such a mediocre movie, as A Bigger Splash proves that not only can Johnson act but she is mighty fine at it. In fact, she well and truly holds her on with her fellow leads. Penelope is an intriguing character, made even more so by Johnson’s acting ability. Penelope is a character who almost defies description (in a complimentary way), suffice to say she is a product of her father in the best/worst of ways.

 There is one more crucial player in A Bigger SplashPantelleria itself. Located 100km southwest of Sicily (fact found courtesy of Google) it is a place I had not heard of prior to the film and is of such unrivalled beauty that I cannot escape mentally from the mysticism of it. Few places, when on the screen, are displayed in such heart-stopping and breath-taking beauty. The events of A Bigger Splash, when splayed out in a review such as this could seem almost borderline-soap opera. It’s the scenery, and the skill through which it is shown, that prevents this. Yes some sequences possess a degree of melodrama, but setting it in such a beautiful (alluring, dazzling, exquisite, stunning, and wonderful) landscape only elevates the emotional response of the subsequent events. However, it’s the slightly oddball, quirky tone of these events that makes the film truly memorable. Though the pacing is slightly stilled on minor occasions, with one or two plot points that drag, there is a humour tinged by darkness that makes the plot haunting and ultimately cataclysmic.

A sun-kissed soap opera told with class and comedy with an abundance of tragedy. A must-see.

 

Spotlight

A subtle masterpiece of an exposé cinema

This film is proof, were it truly needed, that to invoke emotion from a viewer you do not needed to forcibly bulldoze them emotionally. You do not need people screaming at each other about how they really care about something and think it’s important; you do not need violence to prove someone’s inner rage; you don’t need monologues that reflect on social injustice. This film will grab you and drain you entirely. You will experience burning anger for those who used their positions for powers for unimaginable crimes; hopelessness at how dire at how things have and continue to still be; and cheeks so sodden with tears even when you hadn’t realised you were crying. All of these responses were generated without needless melodrama. Instead the absence of overwrought sentimentality  puts the events of the movie and the subsequent emotional response in bold, underlined and italics. A truly crucial and powerful movie. The fact that these are true events is the ultimate sucker punch.

In 2001 Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) joined the Boston Globe as its new editor. The fact he is Jewish was viewed as something of a notable scandal, considering the influence of the Catholic church. In his early introductory meetings with his new staff he meets Walter ‘Roddy’ Robinson (Michael Keaton) who is head of  the Spotlight team, a small group of journalists who undertake investigative projects that take months to research and publish.  The rest of the team is made up of Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James) and Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams).  In his new editorial role Baron urges the Spotlight team to follow a lead, a lead which suggests that the Archbishop of Boston knew of a priest who was sexually abusing children and doing nothing about it. A small-time lawyer called Micheal Garabedian (Stanley Tucciis seemingly the only person doing something about it. However Garabedian is on his own against the entire Catholic church, so after his initial reluctance and a lot of persuading he agrees to work along with Spotlight. A terrifying prospect soon becomes clear, this is not just about one priest but is instead about a huge cover-up of far more and dating back longer than can be imagined. But these secrets have been hidden for so long,  and with so many desperate to keep them,  it will be far from an easy journey.

Within all of that, and the remaining 3/4 of the movie, there is only one scene of loud, embittered shouting. Only one scene where one character, haunted by the true horror of what has gone on, lets rip at the hoops he will have to continue to jump and dive through. That one scene is made all the more climatic and devastating as a consequence, packing more potency than the entirety of Joy. The storytelling here is superb, the way each revelation unfolds is shown not told. The information is not forcible spoon-fed, instead delivered with little fanfare or fabrication, and is all the more absorbing for it. The suspense created is unlike much of recent cinema, with an awful sense of inevitability and foreboding that doesn’t take away any viscerality from watching the character’s gradual comprehension of their story’s terrible breadth.

However, the emotional impact of the script would be nowhere near as traumatising were it not for the performances of the cast. ‘Ensemble cast’ is a phrase too easily banded-about, but the cast of Spotlight is a true ensemble. Every actor gives the role their all. ‘All’ does not mean flapping your arms about and saying how angry you are. ‘All’ is, and perhaps should be, a simple look at another person that reveals unobjectionable horror. A gaze into the distance with eyes that expose a haunting that will never be forgotten. The ‘heroes’ of this story are not embellished, nor martyred or hero-worshipped. They are real human beings, forced to comprehend and expose systematic abuse from an institution that had such an intrinsic role in all of their lives.

Though it may have only been released in the first month of the year, this will be one of the greatest films of 2016. A fact-based thriller with a beating heart.

Room

Astonishing And Devastating In Equal Measure

To begin with, an analogy. Have you ever wrung a towel, a facecloth or even just a piece of fabric in general? You put all your strength into the movement, creating enough tension to drain the cloth of the water it possesses. Are you with me? Now let’s replace a few words of that scenario – the face cloth is the viewer of ‘Room’, the water is either literal tears or just emotion in general and the source of the wringing is the film. Everything, from the cinematography, the mise-en-scene, the dialogue to the extraordinary performances , works in conjunction to drain you so brutafully (see, I made it work there too!) drain you. Never has such a thing been done so willingly, nor with such reward. ‘Room’ is otherworldly in its brilliance and ability to shatter your heart.

Jack (Jacob Tremblay) lives in Room. As far as Jack knows that is all there is to life as he has never left Room. As Ma (Brie Larson) has explained to Jack outside is ‘Space’ and filled with aliens. The only other person knows of is Old Nick who brings them food, necessities  and a ‘luxury item’ referred to as a ‘Sunday Treat’. When Old Nick comes to spend time with Ma, Jack must sleep in the wardrobe. Jack has just turned five and Ma has started to release that he may be old enough to know the truth. That there is a whole world outside of Room, but a world that has been closed off to Ma since Old Nick kidnapped and locked her away seven years ago. Ma was once Joy, a seventeen-year-old girl on her way home from school. Now no-one knows where Joy is. Joy comes up with a plan that involves tricking Old Nick into taking Jack outside of Room, allowing for Jack to escape and get help to rescue Ma. But will Jack be able to accept he could have a life outside of Room?

‘Room’ is a blend of true-crime and fairy-tale. It tells a story that is so abhorrent and seemingly hopeless in a way that is grippingly real, intimate yet somehow beautiful. Jack’s view of Room is fairy tale-like, where what are ordinary objects to us are the only one of their kind, have a personality and are therefore addressed with capitalisation (Table, Lamp, Bed etc.). The television is not a link to the outside world, there is no outside world, but instead images of things that do not exist. It is Joy’s view that is the true-crime, through her eyes the surroundings are depicted in their true horror. Joy is a prisoner, her child was born into captivity, and she has created this world to help them both survive. It is the blending of these two worlds that generates the film’s astonishing power.

But it’s the performances of its two leads that allow this power to land – to convince and cherish. Brie Larson presents an anguish that is so severe that at times becomes unbearable to watch.  Her raw and honest performance is miles, lightyears even, away from the many mawkish performances of exploitative ‘true movies’. Jacob Tremblay provides the kind of child performance you see once in a decade, his abundant glee at the rose-tinted life in Room through to his difficult transition at learning everything believed was a lie. Joy tells Jack these stories to keep him sane in confinement, and Jack’s job unbeknownst to him is to keep Joy sane.  The bond shown between mother-and-son is otherworldly in its believability and its depth.

‘Room’ is gut-wrenching, heart-wringing and brain-haunting. It’s not typical night-out to the movie fayre. At times it’s impossible to watch, and will haunt far longer than its two hours running time. Yet it’s a narrative journey well worth making, proving the power of cinema and the power of extraordinary performances.

‘When I was small, I only knew small things. But now I’m five, I know everything!’ – Jack

Creed

A new era. A new generation. A new legacy has begun.

First, to address the elephant in the room. I didn’t really want to see this movie. I had no real intentions of seeing it and was more than happy to let it pass me by. But when Cineworld announced a a preview screening for Unlimited card holders I booked a ticket, yet remained uncertain. Then Cineworld had to throw its toys out the pram and refuse to show ‘Hateful 8’. To maintain this weekly cinema-going challenge I almost had to attend.

Now that may be slight information overload, but hopefully it has served a narrative purpose – in establishing the disinterest, bordering on disdain, I felt upon entering Screen 7 at the CIneworld at the O2 arena (have I painted a clear enough picture yet?) Now you should be able to understand the surprise I felt, and admittedly still feel,for how I much I loved this movie. I expected a run-of-the-mill hero’s journey story arc, a mundane blend of drama and people getting punched in the face. But ‘Creed’ truly and utterly defied my expectations – instead being an incredibly emotive feel-good movie will some brutal and realistic fight sequences.

1998. Adonis Johnson has been caught in the middle of a fight in the Los Angeles youth facility and been put in isolation. Again. However this time the young boy has a visitor – Mary Anne Creed (Phylicia Rashad), the wife of deceased former heavyweight champion Apollo Creed. Adonis was conceived during an extramarital affair that Apollo had. Mary Anne offers to take in Adonis as he has no-one else. Seventeen years later and Adonis( Michael B. Jordan) still feels conflicted in his love of his father and his love of boxing. Deciding to pursue his instincts Adonis travels to Philadelphia and gets in touch with his father’s old friend and rival Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) in the hopes of persuading him to be his coach. In Philadelphia he also meets Bianca (Tessa Thompson), a woman who also has a passion that drives her. Philadelphia may provide Adonis with a new start but it is also haunted by his father’s legacy.

Rather disarmingly, ‘Creed’ shares much with ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’. Both are the seventh films in the franchise. Both belong to franchises which possess recent additions that were of poor-to-awful quality. Most importantly – both of the new releases are successful post-modern sequels that reinvigorate the stalemate series. ‘Creed’, in a joyfully unironic manner, shows a human being with a passion that consumes him. Adonis has an innate need to box, yet remains constantly aware and is frustrated by the fact he must remain in his father’s shadow. A man he never got the chance to meet. What makes the film so marvellous is is that this conflict is not overly reliant on the dialogue to convey this conflict. Yes the dialogue itself is crisp and realistic, but it’s not the only provider of exposition.

It’s built upon with fantastic performances from all the cast. It’s brilliant to finally see Sylvester Stallone is a good movie after years in the cinematic wilderness. Then there’s, rather unexpectedly perhaps, the cinematography. The camera-work on this film is astounding. The choices that have been made are so clever and convey so much. For instance, very early on, we observe Adonis watching a projection of his father in the ring. Adonis then gets up next to the screen and imitates the punches of his father’s opponent. Not only does the camera-work in this sequence make the scene intensive, but the lighting reinforces the notion that Adonis constantly lives metaphorically in the shadow of his father. The scene that is truly stand-out is one of the fight sequences: an entire fight sequence that is one shot – no cuts, no breaks and no respite from the action. The camera places us at the heart of the action, the fighting itself is brutafully (new word I’ve made up for this purpose) choreographed, but it’s the decision to let it play out in one-shot that is remarkable.

The story itself isn’t particularly complicated, often following expected beats and rhythms.Yet somehow, with the aforementioned blend of cinemagic, it’ll manage to capture your heart. You may even find yourself cheering at the end.

 

Krampus

The gift that keeps on creeping…

Christmas is a time of festive cheer,

for singing loud for all to hear.

But what if good ol’ Saint Nick was nowhere near?

Instead Krampus came to fill you with terror and fear…

Max used to love Christmas. He used to love wrapping presents with his sister and parents whilst watching ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’. He used to somewhat enjoy when his extended family of aunt, uncle and four cousins made their annual visit from December 22nd to just after Christmas. But every year it’s gotten worse. His parents are growing apart, his sister spends all her time with her boyfriend and his cousins use him as a play toy to amuse themselves. Only his paternal grandmother Omi can see how his Christmas spirit is fading. When his extended family arrive once more the four adults, and surprise guest Aunt Dorothy, clash over the dinner table whilst his cousins brutally tease him for still believing in, then writing a letter to, Santa Claus. It’s the final straw for Max. He rips up the letter in anger and throws it out of the window. That’s when the storm starts, a snow storm like no other. Under the cloak of the blizzard Krampus and his villainous cronies start to arrive…No-one is safe. 

What a pleasant surpise this film was! It’s far from perfect and the pacing of both the first and third act is slightly off, but overall this film is a superb antidote to the kind of movies that some of the little-known Sky channels have been showing since mid-September.  It’s properly funny, has some jump-worthy moments and holds your attention for most of the 98 minute running time.

The story itself is deceptively clever. Though the myth of Krampus is centuries old it feels incredibly immediate and relevant.  The film opens with a sequence that has become unsettling familiar in recent years – a supermarket opening it’s doors for pre-Christmas sales. The crowds rush in, rioting, pushing, shoving and shrieking in their quest for unnesscessay discounted purchases. The fact this is soundtracked with Perry Como’s ‘It’s being to look a lot like Christmas’ successfully exemplifies the increasing commercialism of Christmas. It sets a great tone for the upcoming penance that will have to be paid.

The characters who will soon endure Krampus’ house invasion are well pot rated.  They are the right amount of unlikeable, each given just enough reason to warrant the inevitable onslaught but redeemable enough that you start to care what happens to them. The film doesn’t treat the adults any differently from the children – they have been just as naughty as their parents so need to be punished. As a secondary school teacher I can’t actaully say that Max’s two tween female cousins deserve to be punished,  but I can say that I hope they learn from their mistakes.

Krampus’ and his squad, made up of evil-looking reindeer, scary elves, oh so creepy toys and hilariously horrific gingerbread men own this film. The portryal of the homicidal gingerbread men would be my standout favourite, their evilish giggles haunting the house and they haunt it’s residents.  In fact they did somewhat remind me of Christmas horror-comedy classic ‘Gremlins’ which would make an excellent double movie feature with ‘Krampus’.

If you’re looking to briefly escape the festive season , or see and Old Testament-style backlash against it, or you just want a movie for laughs and a few scares, then this is well worth a watch.

Sicario

The Closest We’ll get to Cinematic Masterpiece this year?

This film is unlike any other. It’s intelligent, provocative and deeply haunting. Shot and told with expert precision whilst feeding on audience paranoia and helplessness – this is not a film for the faint of heart. There are few films that have been, or that will be, released this year that will end with you leaving the cinema drained and exhausted (in a good way at least…)

Idealistic FBI agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) leads a kidnapping raid in Chandler, Arizona that results in a discovery far bigger and much more gruesome than was expected. Her findings cause Kate’s boss (Victor Garber) to recommend her to an elected government task force which has a sole focus of the ever-escalating war against drugs on either side of the US – Mexico border. After a brief interview Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) offers her the position, using her emotional ties to her previous case as reasoning to join his team. His team promises results far greater than those she can achieve in her current position, plus a chance to find and punish those involved in the tragedy she unintentionally unearthed. She accepts immediately.  Kate’s FBI partner Reggie (Daniel Kaluuya) is instantly distrustful of Matt and fearful for his partner’s well-being. Kate squashes his concerns, but when she arrives for her first day of work she realises how little she know and how little Matt will actually want to tell her. The unexplained arrival of mysterious Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro) furthers these worries, as does their preceding to fly with her to a different destination than the one declared to her and concealing their purpose for being there. Was Reggie right to have been so worried for Kate? Will Kate get to make the difference she wanted to? Will she even make it out alive? 

What truly makes this film enter the threshold into ‘great’ is the components that make it so taut, tense and thrilling. The acting is masterful – Blunt is understatedly brilliant as the at-times frustrating but always sympathetic Kate, Brolin’s Matt oozes charm with dark undertones and Del Toro lurks on the outskirts so intriguingly that his gradually revealed character arc is utterly enthralling. The music, and the superbly well-chosen moments when it is absent, frame each sequences with an eerie sense of both danger and inevitability. Not a shot or piece of dialogue is wasted – everything either contributes to the plot or the power of it. Aerial shots revel not in the landscape, but instead reveal the depth of the poverty and crime and the sheer vastness of it.

Where the film builds and retains most of its power is in its message. Whilst easy from trailers and posters to misconstrue as just another social-issue drama or drug-related thriller, Sicario has much more to offer. Few films have tackled the ‘war on drugs’ with such informed perception of the grey area surrounding it. The primary question is of lawlessness – who are the good guys in this war and who can be trusted? Most importantly – when the do the ends stop justifying the means? This is reflected upon in such a spectacularly suspenseful manner; it is rare to find a film that can leave an audience so fantastically haunted.

If you’re looking to spend two-hours in a realm of dread, brutality and nerve-destroying darkness then commit to numb ruminating…you’d best go buy your ticket!

The Martian

‘I’ve gotta science the shit out of this!”

The Martian is better than both Interstellar and Gravity. Whilst both of the latter films tried admirably, but failed, in their ambition, Ridley Scott has succeeded in translating Andy Weir’s thrilling, tense and funny novel to the big screen. In fact, this is Ridley Scott’s best movie for years.

Disco-hating Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is part of Ares 3, a manned mission to Mars. On Sol 18 (solar Martian Day 18) a fierce storm hits the base so Commander Lewis (Jessica Chastain) tells Watney and the four other crew members to evacuate. However, on the short distance from the Hub to the ship, Watney is impaled by an antenna and separated from the group. Watney’s vital signs indicate that he is dead so the devastated crew leave without him. But Watney in fact wakes up to find himself stranded on Mars – with meagre supplies and no means of contacting anyone he must use his wits, brains and ingenuity to survive.

There are so many features of this film that make it the true success it really is. Firstly, the incredibly talented ensemble cast. Along with Damon and Chastain, there is a who’s who of exceptional skill – Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Sean Bean, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Chiwetel EjioforMackenzie Davis and Donald Glover amongst the most recognisable. Unusually for a cast of this size there are no weak links. In part due to their talent, but also due to the solidity and sharpness of the source material. All of the characters are given their moment to shine and develop; possessing mannerisms and relationships that make them feel real. Of course, in this regard, it is Damon who shines brighter than the rest. He makes Watney so truly likeable it would be impossible not to root for him; this ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances.. It’s easy to imagine that there will be audiences in the States stood in their seats in either tension or cheer, pushing him on. His reactions seem so real – who wouldn’t swear in frustration at the circumstances that are thrown at him? His unflappability (A – Who knew that was even a word?!? and B- It’s an adjective that exactly describes his character) is crucial to this relatability. Unlike many other recent films that are about space or even science fiction in general we are often faced with characters who panic in moments of crisis. Watney, and the other characters, are scientists and leaders of their respective fields so it shouldn’t be surprising that they can come up with solutions (which my favourite physicist-friend advises me were utterly terrifying for him to watch!)

Secondly, there’s the soundtrack. As you, hopefully, identified from the above plot summary, Watney hates disco. And, can you guess what genre of music is the only kind left behind in the Hub..? (If you can’t guess I am judging you massively at the this point). Watney finds himself in such Dire Straits (hah, semi-accidental music pun) that he must subject himself to a disco-themed soundtrack – something he does not do willing or without bitching massively about. Every disco classic is so carefully apt to the moment it plays. So much so that it’ll be hard to listen to ‘Hot Stuff’ by Donna Summer without thinking of Watney’s haphazard handling of plutonium. Thirdly, the pace and storytelling is so skilful that the 140 minute running time doesn’t drag nearly as much as it could have done consequently creating a tone that is both epic yet playful.

The film remains as equally entertaining, appealing and refreshing from start to finish. The next space-themed movie has a lot to beat…

The Gift (2015)

Dare you look inside?

This film is good. Really good. It’s wicked, smart and tense. So tense, you’ll be on the edge of your sheet for most of the film’s 1hr 50min running time. Few contemporary Hollywood films are able to hook in an audience so quickly, so subtly, and keep them gripped to the end credits. Belonging to the ‘thriller’ genre this film (written directed and starring Joel Edgerton) it manages to avoid all the perils of a bad thriller movie. Typically films of this genre are set up with a chunk of exposition, a boring and obvious way of introducing character and story. With ‘The Gift’ Egerton totally avoids this hurdle, instead he sprinkles exposition into dialogue. Twists and turns are set up in a way that it is only once they happen that you realise they were even set up in the first place. Not once does the film dip in tension or give any hints on what will happen next. If you’ve seen the trailer and thought you’d seen it all, you really haven’t!

Robin (Rebecca Hall) and Simon (Jason Batman) move from Chicago to California, to an area not far from Simon’s hometown. When shopping for new home supplies the pair are approached by ‘Gordo’ (Joel Edgerton) who identifies himself as being an old school friend of Simon’s. Gordo quickly establishes himself in their lives, dropping off gifts and making surprise visits at their home. Although Robin seems happy enough to maintain contact with the ‘socially awkward’ Gordo, Simon grows uneasy with Gordo’s behaviour and decides to ‘break-up’ with him and ends their friendship. Gordo does not let this go easily and continues to have a hold over the pair. Secrets from the past swiftly and menacingly threaten to ruin their seemingly idealistic life.

This film is both modern yet welcomingly old-fashioned. Its plot and pacing align it with Hitchcockian storytelling. The fact that much of the film focuses on Robin’s perspective is a throwback to the Gothics of the 1940s. Her doubts over Gordo, and as a result doubts about her husband, are never overblown or ‘too’ melodramatic but rooted in a degree of realism and with complete sympathy. What could be a one dimensional role is instead fully rounded with Hall’s nuances, her subtle discomfort apparent yet carefully and gradually revealed. Bateman is equally as good, barely recognizable in a role that goes far beyond type. All too often taking the role of fraught and downtrodden father figure, he places the role of Simon with ease as he carefully navigates the fine lien between charming and douchebaggery. Whilst we are swift to become uncertain of Gordo’s intent, we soon realise that we know just as little about Simon. His interactions with both Robin and Gordo remain intriguing and frequently unsettling from start to finish.

 But it is Edgerton who remains the star here, portraying the oddest and most secretive of the three leads. Often films like this will signpost, practically with flashing neon lights, what will happen next and who we can trust. Within his script, cinematography and characterisation Edgerton doesn’t do this. All of these dimensions are far too complex for that, refusing to let the viewer rest on their laurels or take a breather. Nothing is certain in this cinematic universe; no-one can be trusted.

A surprise of a movie, engrossing and unpredictable in equal measure. This is a fantastic directorial debut, a tense psycho-thriller and well worth seeing.