Sunday, April 30, 2017

the witch [2015]

it is new england in the 1630s.  william and his family are banished from their community.  what is their reason for their banishment?  we are not told.  but william et al. are hyper observant christians.  that comes into play for the run time of this movie.  william and his family make a home, a farm, deep in the woods.  they are alone.  the woods are deep.  and they are pious.

what happens next is either a fable or a mindfuck.  william, assayed by ralph ineson, with a voice as deep as darth varder's, is the father of thomasin, played by anya taylor-joy, a devout christian and a very bright young woman who is developing into her own person.  they, along with their family, are alone in the woods, and when you are deep in the woods the mind plays tricks on you.  or does it?

that's the brilliance of robert eggers, who wrote and directed this fine film.  i couldn't tell if the action is a mental hallucination of the protagonists or the facts of fate.  it is a brilliant gambit for i was sitting on the edge of my seat for the length of the movie.

eggers shot is film in natural light, and with ambient sounds, that heightened the fear. and the dialogue, we are told at the end credits are based on tales, court records and folklore of the era.  the syntax of english, and the diction has changed a bit since the 17th century so i had to pay close attention.

at any rate taylor-joy is a pleasure to watch.  she carries this film to its conclusion with such superb poise i was writhing in anticipation of her next move.  indeed, i predicted a couple of scenarios that didn't happen because eggers is such a good writer, and that heightened the tension.

so what happens?  watch the movie!  it is that good.  in fact, the natural light and the period speech reminded me of filmmaker kelly reichardt's meek's cutoff [2010], which was the last movie i watched at the crest theater, which close down and later reopened under new management.

but for this film i watched it this afternoon via amazon prime streaming service.  which is a counterpoint to the messages of the movie, that human nature will turn superstitious, paranoid and violent under certain circumstances.  the technology has advanced but our psychology has not.

at the end of this flick i wondered who was the witch and who were its victims.  a certain strain of religiosity can turn toxic.  or perhaps what happens under the purview of an omnipotent deity is part of a master plan.  that is the genius of filmmaker robert eggers, he lets us come to our own conclusions.  as for me, this film scared the crap out of me.  that is no small praise.  


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