Coco (2017)

0

Coco-Family-Poster-Pixar

Director: Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina

Stars: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt

Another first-rate animation from Pixar? I should coco!

Pixar needn’t fear about entering the land of the dead after Coco dazzling audiences and critics alike. They’ve been teetering lately with their three most recent films (The Good Dinosaur, Finding Dory and Cars 3) all of which received relatively mixed reviews from a studio who have churned out more timeless animations than any other. Coco sees them back on top form though by emotionally weaving an engaging and constantly surprising story about family, love and loss.

coco1

It follows a spirited Mexican lad called Miguel who wants nothing more than to be a musician. Unfortunately for him, his family are from a long line of music-haters after Miguel’s great great great grandmother’s husband left her and her daughter alone in order to pursue a career in music. Since then every child from the family has been raised to detest all kinds of music (as any sane family would do) which means Miguel has to tinkle his ivories in secret whilst worshipping his superstar musical idol, Ernesto De La Cruz. For reasons never quite explained, Miguel ends up in the Mexican land of the dead where a madcap adventure ensues, never failing to entertain along the way.

Coco fools you initially by pretending to be a straightforward family adventure film with stunning visuals and cute characters, but a genuinely shocking third act twist reveals itself to be so much more. It’s quite barmy how a film targeted for children is more unpredictable than the majority of films aimed at adults in this day and age. Nevertheless, this is Pixar and we all know that despite being family friendly, they’re really made for adults!

coco-movie-making-of-opener

What makes the film so memorable though is its pure emotion. Pixar have been pulling at our heartstrings for years from the infamous opening of Up to the tragic demise of Bing Bong in Inside Out. I’m happy to say that Coco is no exception. I’m not one to cry in films but I must admit to being quite choked up several times in Coco, particularly in its closing moments. This isn’t manipulative, sugary, trying-desperately-hard-to-make-you-cry kind of emotion seen in the likes of the recent Wonder but genuine tear duct pulling. This is a film which genuinely cares about its characters so the audience does too.

coco1 (1)

Some people are calling this the best Pixar film ever but I think that’s a bit of a knee-jerk reaction. It lacks the innovation of say, Inside Out and the comedy of Up but that’s not say it’s a great film because it is. Pixar have just churned out such a high calibre of animated features that to say one is better than the other doesn’t really count for much. Coco will certainly be beloved for years to come though, I know I’ll be watching it with my kids all the time if anyone would have them with me!

nine-out-of-ten

 

Advertisements

Nothing Bad Can Happen (2013)

0

nothing-bad-can-happen

Director: Katrin Gebbe

Starring: Julius Feldmeier, Sascha Alexander Gersak, Annika Kuhl

Jesus Christ!

It’s rare to find a film which manages to disturb and horrify without ever being exploitative or using cheap shock tactics like you’d see in the August Underground movies but Nothing Bad Can Happen manages to do exactly that. I came away from the film feeling drained and disturbed in a way that I haven’t felt since Pascal Laugier’s Martyrs which should certainly ring alarm bells if you can’t handle upsetting subject matters in your films. Although Nothing Bad Can Happen is undoubtedly a superb piece of filmmaking, it’s something I’d recommend with caution due to explicit sequences involving abuse of all kinds and cruelty to animals.

nothing-bad-can-happen-like

The film follows the true events surrounding a young self-proclaimed ‘Jesus freak’ called Tore who happens to have some form of autism which makes him think and act very differently to others. Tore places all of his faith in Jesus Christ and is naively taken in by a truly evil family who take advantage of his absurdly good nature. It’s a fascinating meditation on evil in society and the dangers of religion. Despite being an utterly gruelling watch, Nothing Bad Can Happen never gratuitously relishes in the violence and is always focused on character and delivering a powerful message. The fact that these events are true makes the film all the more relevant and important.

First-time director Katrin Gebbe shows astonishing confidence behind the camera. Despite the ugly subject matter, the images always try to find beauty and light through the bleakness. There’s a hypnotic sense of realism to the whole film which reminded me of Justin Kurzel’s equally uncompromising Snowtown. The acting from the unknown cast is similarly impressive, particularly breakout star Julius Feldmeier in the lead who manages to make Tore an engaging and sympathetic main character. Sascha Alexander Gersak also feels toe-curlingly real as the malevolent patriarch determined to break Tore’s Holy spirit.

nothing-bad-can-happen-3

You could easily mistake Nothing Bad Can Happen as being the kind of lost film in Lars Von Trier’s ‘Golden Hearts Trilogy’ which correspondingly follows mentally-challenged protagonists as they battle through life’s brutal hardships. It’s just as tough to watch as seeing Emily Watson getting stoned by feral kids or Bjork dancing desperately through life despite the world crumbling around her. It’ll be just too depressing for some people and it does get harder to watch as the film progresses but the reason I watch films is to be moved and provoked by some sort of emotional response. Nothing Bad Can Happen does this in spade loads.

23_toretanzt_0026652_astrid-annikakuhl_tore_juliusfeldmeier_benno_saschagersak

Initially appearing to be the ideal father figure, Benno, played by German actor Sascha Alexander Gersak in Nothing Bad Can Happen, shows his dark side as he mocks and violently tests a young boy’s religious fai

This is a haunting piece of work which will bury itself under your skin and stay there long after the credits roll. It’s a torturous watch at times but it carries an important message which is extremely relevant to society today. The pacing is very slow at the beginning but it’s also immersive and character-focused meaning that it’s always easy to engage with. There was not one moment where I was bored or distracted in its 110 minute running time. It’s a heart-breaking watch which will surely shake you to your core. A stunning debut but proceed with caution.

nine-out-of-ten

Magnolia (1999)

0

magnolia

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

Stars: Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Juilanne Moore, John C Reilly, William H Macy, Philip Baker

My God, it’s full of frogs!

I’ve been looking forward to seeing Magnolia for ages now. There Will Be Blood was my first taste of Paul Thomas Anderson and has rapidly become one of my top five favourite films I’ve seen. Then I saw Punch-Drunk Love which I think is a little underrated, and then Hard Eight (or Sydney as it should’ve been called) which is a striking debut, although definitely not up to scratch with the others as mentioned. And then there’s Magnolia! Many cite it as the best film ever made and Paul himself has even gone on record saying that he’ll never do a film as good as Magnolia again. That could well be true.

Whilst at the time of writing, I still do prefer There Will Be Blood, there’s no denying the marvel of Magnolia. It’s sheer audacity is enough to be respected, yet somehow Paul Thomas Anderson (why is his name so frigging long? I’m just going to call him Paul) manages to handle this great big beast he’s created with flawless ease. Magnolia is basically like Love Actually with lots of little separate stories going on which are loosely inter-connected with each other. However, Paul isn’t too concerned with love. He’s more interested in the bleaker side of life such as: child abuse, drug addiction, rejection, loneliness and regret. For most people, the idea of a three hour long film with all these themes would be a turn off. However, I’d urge you to stick with it.

To be honest, I loved Magnolia from the moment it began. It tells three stories within the first five minutes in the whimsical style of Amelie. They’re expertly told, but also quite misleading. We’re lead to believe that the big story which is about to follow will end in a way which connects all the characters, but it never does. Or at least, they don’t come together as explicitly as the first three stories told. These first five minutes would make a superb short film of its own, alas it’s just a warm-up for the main event. Suddenly the depressing One is the Loneliest Number starts to play as the titles bloom out of a brilliant magnolia flower. What plays is basically a music video with all the depressed characters being introduced whilst the fitting song plays over them.

Magnolia has over ten main characters and by some sort of miracle, Paul manages to develop each one deeply. Each character is so rich with detail and each has a story which manages to be thoroughly engaging and entertaining. I mentioned all the heavy themes at the start, but Magnolia is actually quite a funny film in places too. If I were to mention what I loved about each charcter and their story then this review would probably be as long as the screenplay for Magnolia, so I’ll just mention a couple of my absolute favourites. Probably the most extraordinary character arc is Tom Cruise’s character, Frank. We despise him at the start with his disgusting misogynistic ramblings, however as his arc goes on we see him turn from cocky a prat into a vengeful and weeping little boy. Paul gives us just enough to suggest why his character is the way he is, yet leaves enough ambiguity to let us come to our own conclusions.

magnolia-gameshow

Another fascinating character is Donnie Smith, the child star who’s now all grown up and forgotten. His story is arguably the most moving. He’s a drunk whose lost his job and is hopelessly in love with a barman who doesn’t love him back. One of the saddest parts of the film, for me, was when Donnie got drunk at the bar and started rambling about how much love he had to give. What makes all these stories so engaging is that they’re all so identifiable, or at least will be. We’ve all felt alone, we’ve all felt love, we’ll all have to cope with dying or seeing a loved one die etc. this is perhaps the secret to Magnolia’s greatness.

The acting is also brilliant across the board. Tom Cruise is an actor I normally can’t stand, yet here he’s Oscar-worthy. He’s been given such a complex character to play and he plays it with terrifying ease. The iconic moment when he confesses his hatred to his dying father feels almost too real. Julianne Moore is also another one who stands out. Her hysterical suicidal outbursts are almost exemplary. I also loved Philip Baker Hall as the game show host dying of cancer. At first he’s a character who you feel deep sympathy for until you find out the dark secret he’s harbouring. The scene where he confesses his secrets to his wife is another stand-out moment.

magnolia1

Paul’s directing is nothing short of masterful, as ever. It might not have the same Kubrickian shots like, Punch-Drunk Love and There Will Be Blood had but there is still a distinct style which holds the film together. I loved the long and involving tracking shots and some of the editing was extraordinary. At times it reminded me of a Christopher Nolan film as there are several powerful moments in Magnolia where stories all come together with one character narrating over a different unconnected image involving another character. It’s difficult to explain, but it works and creates a superb mood. There’s even an inspired moment where all the characters burst into song, thus unifying them even further.

Magnolia really is the definition of a masterpiece. You can tell that Paul set out to create the greatest film ever made and he has pretty much succeeded. It’s such a magnificently rich, deep and emotional film. In fact, it’s so deep that it would take you at least three viewings to totally appreciate it all. It’s a brave piece of work and even features a moment of bizarre surrealism towards the end which should feel completely out of place, but doesn’t. Magnolia works on so many levels. It’s not so pretentious that it’s inaccessible to average movie-going audiences, however if you want to dig deeper into it then there’s more than enough there to allow it. I certainly can’t wait to experience it all again.

perfect-10

Dancer in the Dark (2000)

0

dancer-in-the-dark

Director: Lars Von Trier

Stars: Bjork, Catherine Deneuve, David Morse

Mamma Mia on Prozac

I should let you know that I’m not one to cry in movies. That’s not to say that I’m a hard-nosed bastard with no feelings, because of course I well up in many films including the opening of Up and the final third of Requiem for a Dream. However, no film had actually made me release tears until I saw Dancer in the Dark for the second time. Even on my first viewing I did not cry, I just felt very overwhelmed. I suppose once you know the tragic conclusion, it makes it all the more unbearable to watch. Last night I watched Dancer in the Dark for a third time and I cried again.

Dancer-In-The-Dark_82_4ea5c9cd9dc3d83c3b000073_1320385224

I didn’t cry quite as much, but tears were still there and it still had that awful emotional wallop to the gut. Dancer in the Dark is one of those rare films which possess such a raw and intense emotional power. It could possibly be the most powerful film I have ever seen. I don’t know anyone who could just zap through the credits, pull the disc out of their DVD player and get on with their lives. Every time I see it, I stare into the credits and I’m haunted by the final shot for hours and hours. In fact, when I went to bed last night, I cried again just thinking about it.

Lars Von Trier is the definition of a love-it or hate-it director. The only film I haven’t liked of his is The Idiots, which is coincidentally part of his Golden Hearts Trilogy which includes this and Breaking the Waves, his other masterpiece. I’ve also loved Dogville and immensely admired his latest Depression Trilogy which features: Antichrist, Melancholia and Nymphomaniac. He’s been accused of creating films to shock for the sake of it, and whilst I do agree with that to some extent (did we really need that brief porn in Antichrist?) you can’t deny that his films are unlike any other. All are beautifully made and written to provoke thought and emotion.

Dancer in the Dark is Lars’ masterpiece. Yes, Breaking the Waves come close, but you just have to give the prize to Dancer for pure innovation. It opens with a sensational overture (written by Bjork) which is enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. The story behind this overture is that Lars wanted the music to play whilst the curtains were shut over the screen, however he later realised that most movie theaters don’t have curtains anymore and so put images of paintings over the music instead. I think his initial idea was lovely, and would’ve worked perfectly well over a blank screen like the strange opening to 2001: A Space Odyssey.

dancer

We then open to a brilliant piece of comedy where our hero Selma and her friend Cathy are in some rather dull rehearsals for an amateur production of The Sound of Music. This hilarious opening completely juxtaposes the devastating finale. In fact, most viewers forget just how funny the first twenty minutes are, as the ending just completely eclipses that. Lars uses the same Dogme style as he did for The Idiots and Breaking the Waves. It almost feels like a documentary, with the images looking far too natural and the performances feeling far too real. It allows us to truly immerse ourselves into Selma’s world, which of course makes the film all the more hard-hitting.

Talking of performances, Bjork’s is truly sensational. Who would’ve thought that a little Icelandic pop-goddess would be able to give Meryl Streep a run for her money! In fact, Bjork’s performance is more comparable to Emily Watson’s legendary debut in Breaking the Waves. It’s so raw, emotional and intense to watch. Bjork even said that she didn’t feel as if she was acting, she would go onto the set and become Selma. Surely that’s the mark of an incredibly talented actress? It’s a shame that Lars gave her such an awful experience that she never acted again. Bjork didn’t even want to do Dancer in the Dark, she agreed to write the music, but Lars blackmailed her into acting by saying that he wouldn’t use her music unless she played Selma.

Rumour has it that every morning on set Bjork would march up to Lars and say, ‘Mr Von Trier, I despise you,’ and then spit at his face! However, this is so difficult to believe as the character she plays is nothing like that. Selma is a kind-hearted and simple soul whose only goal in life is to earn enough money for her son to have an operation, to prevent him from going blind. It’s Selma’s kind nature which ultimately lands her in some truly heart-wrenching trouble.

dancer_in_the_dark5

Of course, you mustn’t forget that Dancer in the Dark is in fact a musical! Selma is a musical enthusiast because ‘nothing dreadful ever happens.’ Obviously she isn’t a fan of Sweeney Todd, Les Mis or indeed the very musical she is starring in. The songs in the film are all fantastic; I even began liking Scatterheart on my third viewing, understanding that the lack of melody and structure perfectly mirrors the situation which Selma finds herself in. The musical numbers offer a fantastical escape from the dreary reality. The washed-out colours are now bright and vibrant. Extras awkwardly dance around and have unnaturally wide smiles. The musical numbers don’t fit with the tone of the film, and that is exactly the point!

It’s the ending which catapults Dancer in the Dark into masterpiece status though. It has images which will sear into your brain and will touch you in parts which you didn’t know could be touched! I’ve seen many depressing films, but this one takes the prize for the most depressing ending of all time. However, it’s also a genius way to end the film. I especially love the quote which superimposes the screen. It mirrors Selma’s early monologue where she describes cheating films by leaving after the second-to-last song so that the film will play on forever.

It’s easy to see why most people wouldn’t want to watch Dancer in the Dark a second time, let alone a third time like I did! However, I love films which take you on a journey. Films which have the power to physically move you are so rare, and experiencing emotion like this is really quite extraordinary. Dancer in the Dark is a magical masterpiece which must be experienced by everyone at least once. Lars has dabbled in pretty much every genre now: comedy (The Idiots), melodrama (Breaking the Waves), horror (Antichrist), sci-fi (Melancholia) and even porn (Nymphomaniac) however, it’s his contribution to the musical genre which he will be most cherished for.

perfect-10

Shame (2011)

0

Shamepost

Director: Steve Mcqueen

Stars: Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan, James Badge Dale

Steve Mcqueen has nothing to be ashamed of here

Shame took me by surprise. I thought it would be good, but I didn’t expect it to be as good as it was. Steve Mcqueen made a striking directional debut with Hunger, a film which I thought looked great but left a lot to be desired over the screenplay. I of course saw 12 Years a Slave before Shame and was completely bowled over by it. Shame isn’t quite the masterpiece which 12 Years a Slave is, but it is nevertheless a brilliant film and is well above average in pretty much every department.

shame08

Steve Mcqueen has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of in the directing department. Visually, Shame is flawless right from the opening where we see Michael Fassbender, stark bullock naked and staring into space on his bed. In fact, the wordless opening 10 minutes is one of the best moments in the film. There’s a beautifully realised moment where Michael is eyeing up a woman on the tube and it just goes to show how powerful actions can be. During this moment we also get to see how Michael goes through his days using prostitutes, watching porn and masturbating all to a fantastically emotive score. Right from the opening, you know that you’re in good hands.

Michael Fassbender gives a fantastic performance as the sex addict. His American accent is extremely off, but thankfully this is brushed off as his character explains how he emigrated to New York. He’s very convincing and there are plenty of powerful acting moments. I was also really impressed with Carey Mulligan who normally plays cute mousy types to match her childlike features. Here she plays a loudmouth wannabe singer who’s far clingier than her brother. I found the undertones of incest very interesting too. The film hints that they’ve had quite a horrific past, but we’re never let in on it.

Shameintherain

There are plenty of uncomfortable moments in Shame. At times it makes you feel intrusive as we explicitly see private moments played out regularly and in long takes. Whilst the film is full of sex, it is never sexy. In fact, I barely had a semi-bone throughout! Instead you feel sorry for the poor man as he never uses sex for pleasure, more like a coping mechanism.

Shame isn’t just about sex though, it’s full of brilliant drama which makes you feel involved in the character’s lives. There are a handful of great scenes. One of the most memorable is a painfully realistic first date which is full of awkward moments. The best part of the film is probably towards the end though, where we get a montage of images (like at the start) whilst the haunting score plays over. It shows Michael Fassbender going out and looking for sex desperately, at a time when his sister needed him the most. The results are suitably tragic.

shame-mulligan

Shame is phenomenal filmmaking. It’s a involving character study which doesn’t lecture or patronise its audience. The film is full of haunting and memorable scenes which will be playing in your mind the next day. The acting is brilliant across the board and the screenplay is also suitably ambiguous. It’s the directing and visuals which make the biggest impact though. How Steve Mcqueen wasn’t Oscar nominated for this film, I don’t know. Perhaps it’s subject matter is a little too sensitive for the Academy. This is an essential film for those who love the art of filmmaking.

nine-out-of-ten

 

Amour (2012)

1

AMOUR - Italian Poster

Director: Michael Haneke

Stars: Emmanuelle Riva, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Isabelle Huppert

The first film to make me cry

I’m a nineteen year old male (straight, before you ask) and I’d never cried in a film before I saw Amour. I even rarely release a tear when I’ve had one in my eyes, which I do get often during profoundly moving scenes such as the ones in Martyrs and Up, but that tear has never been released. Actually, I lie. I did release a tear when watching Brother Bear aged 10, but that doesn’t particularly count. Amour has achieved the impossible and made me cry. And it wasn’t just a tear either, it was pretty much full-on blubbing before I had to force myself to stop in fear of looking like a total moron in front of my family who were all weirdly dry eyed.

004

The truth is that old love touches me. Even the scene of Leo and Marion growing old in limbo together in Inception makes me tear up! So when I first saw the wonderfully emotive poster for Amour I was interested. I watched the trailer and was even more interested. To top it all, I read that it was directed by one of my all time favourite directors, Michael Haneke! I was hooked! Then the hugely positive reviews came flooding in, and my favourite critic gave it the fill 5 stars and I became obsessed. I counted down the days of DVD release on my calendar because my stupid local cinema doesn’t like to show foreign films and when the day finally came… It didn’t disappoint.

Amour is Michael Haneke’s most human film I’ve seen. He’s wonderful at capturing the harsh realities on film like no other director. His films feature static shots, making it seem like a live stream at times, such as the scene in Funny Games where the camera remains unmoved for 10 minutes. Amour is no different. It’s long-takes capture how real and human this film really is, allowing us to focus on the characters and emotion rather than the direction. Long takes of Georges lying awake at night should touch you like no other, as it gives us time to ponder what’s going on in the poor man’s tortured head. Michael Haneke dares you not to look away as we see Anne’s physical and mental health slowly deteriorate almost unbearably. Haneke even shows how degrading it can all be with relentless long takes that dare you not to look away.

003

 

Right from its bold, horrific opening you know you’re in for quite an ordeal. In fact, that opening sequence stayed with me throughout the films length, making everything seem all that more horrifying, as you know how it’s going to end. The scene when Anne gets her first attack at breakfast is a startling one. Georges holds her face, which stares blankly and almost robotically past him which contrasts Georges look of complete horror and anxiety. It’s from here that we see Anne go downhill and it’s the fabulous screenplay by Michael Haneke which makes things all the more touching. He gives a completely un-schmaltzy view of romance making it seem all the more startling. Georges’ devotion is so heart-warming and inspirational.

The film is all the more horrible (in the best way possible) thanks to the outstanding performance by Emmanuelle Riva. Now, I can’t comment on Jennifer Lawrence’s Oscar triumph for Silver Linings Playbook because I haven’t seen it. However, I highly doubt that it’s as masterful and touching as Emmanuelle’s. For most of the running time I forgot that she was acting, because she played the role with such powerful realism. The two actors also have a genuine connection together and their romance is totally believable. Throughout the second-half my eyes kept stinging like I was slicing an onion, and tears were welling up as Anne’s health reached breaking point for Georges.

009

Amour is full of profoundly sad scenes, but one of the saddest is when Georges is trying to give Anne a drink, but she doesn’t drink it and he says something along the lines of, “You must drink otherwise you’ll die. You don’t want to die do you?” and the answer, sadly, is yes. Yet Georges doesn’t want her to die so he tries his best to force it down her and his love for her has never seemed so strong. In fact, it was this scene which I was talking about with my Mum when I started to cry (which is ironically like the anecdote Georges tells). Michael Haneke also puts in a shocking scene towards the end that will stay with me forever.

I’ve seen many of Michael Haneke’s films (The Seventh Continent, Benny’s Video, Funny Games, The Piano Teacher, The White Ribbon) and Amour is right up there with his finest works. It’s emotionally draining and ultimately devastating. But this is also it’s most profound strength. Amour, for me, is the ultimate weepy and is probably the most touching romance I’ve ever on film. Haneke proves he’s still got it with his best film I’ve seen since Hidden. It will stick with me forever.

perfect-10

Martyrs (2008)

0

martyrspostb

Director: Pascal Laugier

Stars: Mylene Jampanoi, Morjana Alaoui, Catherine Begin

One of the greatest films of all time. Profound, moving and utterly devastating

Martyrs is another French film that is one of the most effective and incredible films I have ever seen. It’s a rare thing now to get a horror film that truly shocks you, but Martyrs is one of these rarities. A film that you can’t un-see, and possibly one you wouldn’t want to either. Now, it would be easy to dismiss Martyrs as ‘torture-porn’ like Hostel, but Martyrs is so much deeper than that. The explicit and hugely upsetting torture sequences serve a very fine purpose to the mind-boggling narrative, and carefully constructed characters. You could also dismiss Martyrs as being exploitative, using gore for gore’s sake. However, Martyrs uses some of the most cringe-inducing gore I’ve ever seen, which dares you not to look away. Never has violence looked more nasty or pointless. You could even say that it’s a comment on how films glamorise violence. Martyrs shows violence for what it really is.

martyrs-movie1

What makes Martyrs so extraordinary is its unpredictability and the way it plays on your expectations, in a similar way to The Cabin in the Woods, only not humorous in the slightest. The film changes direction at least four times, and two of these occasions are in the opening 10 minutes! The first time I saw Martyrs, I was in shock at the first plot twist, as it delivers the nasty surprise thick and fast like a Michael Haneke film. It defies all conventions, without ever feeling schizophrenic in tone. Even though Martyrs has so many plot twists, it never feels messy and it’s always focused on true narrative it’s trying to express. I’ve seen the film about six times now and it still manages to hit me hard with its visceral shocks.

Another great thing about Martyrs is its characters. The main protagonists feature on the front cover, both of them have a touching relationship as we see them through childhood. One of them, Lucie, is terribly haunted and a really tragic character who I felt immeasurably sympathetic towards. Her friend, is also almost like her carer who looks after Lucie, and also probably has feelings for her too. They’re both very deep characters who we can care for. Martyrs also features a memorable villain, who’s not in for long but offers a lasting and chilling presence, almost like Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs. However, I don’t want to spoil too much, because that would be such a shame.

martyrsbdcap5_original

The turning point for people will be just over half-way when Martyrs takes a seriously surprising and gut-punching turn that no one could see coming. There’s a really heart-wrenching scene when Anna makes a discovery which should be strictly kept under wraps. This scene is one of the hardest scenes to watch in the film, and is outrageously disturbing. I always say that films become masterpieces when they turn into more of an experience, such as Black Swan, but Martyrs transcends from being an experience to being a challenge. It’s a real challenge to make it through the final half hour of Martyrs, as things only become more disturbing.

The final half hour will be the decider about whether you liked Martyrs or not. You can say what you like about the last half hour but whatever you say, it will be the thing that you remember the most about it. I shall not spoil it, but it’s one of the saddest moments, actually no, it is the saddest moment I’ve seen on film. Every time I see it I almost cry which is something I don’t do on many occasions. It packs such a huge emotional punch, and also has this chills-inducing music that escalates your feelings. Every time I see it I just want to collapse into a ball and weep an ocean of tears. But I’m yet to try that. It really is what takes Martyrs from being already one of the best horror films ever to being legendary. If you feel no emotion in this final third then you’re either a robot or a psychopath.

Martyrs

I can understand why people hate these final moments, because I remember when I saw it a second time, I thought that it would be much better to have a Frontiers-type finale. However, then I realised that this is what Pascal Laugier would want us to have, and is probably what other film-makers would give us. It’s these final moments that are the biggest shock of the film and also are very relevant to the narrative as it allows us to go deeper into the characters. Suddenly the mystery is revealed and it’s a chilling one. Martyrs turns unbelievably deep and philosophical which will make you provoke more thought than you could imagine. The ending will make your jaw drop, as it’s a lot to take in. You could even say that the film takes another surprising turn. The final two shots are just the final nails in the coffin of your psyche. They’re the last visceral shocks, and the last shot is sure to haunt your dreams.

So it’s easy to call Martyrs ‘torture-porn’ but it seriously is anything but. Since when has ‘torture-porn’ made you think or feel as much emotion as Martyrs does. It’s hugely depressing, and leaves such an emotional impact. The directing alone makes Martyrs more than just an exploitation film! He’s created a moving masterpiece. It’s not easy to watch but the pay-off is immense. Martyrs is possibly the boldest and most powerful films I’ve ever seen. It’s truly unforgettable, and I could write a list of superlatives like I did with The Dark Knight, but not one of them would justify just how mesmerising this film is. It’s a true horror masterpiece. Martyrs is a difficult film to recommend, because it’s the opposite end of entertainment, but the pay-off is truly unlike any other. Witness it for yourself. It’s one of the best horror films ever made. Maybe even the best.

perfect-10