Let’s hope we never learn what a postapocalyptic world truly feels like, but here’s an educated guess (one that most movies get wrong): We’re not going to be all that chatty. Set during a brooding future when language seems to have betrayed us, Stephen Fingleton’s masterful, uncompromising feature debut has no charming quips—no heroes, romance or leather outfits. It’s a tense chamber piece taking place in a European forest 10 years after the fall of civilization.
What happened? We learn from an elegantly simple graph only that demand overtook supply. The minutes pass by and you squirm in the silence, watching a grungy unnamed loner (Martin McCann) raiding a corpse for valuables. He lives in a dank hut, farming mushrooms and waiting for unlucky folks to wander into his orbit. Soon, a sullen teenage girl (Nymphomaniac’s Mia Goth) and her nervous mother (Olwen Fouere) take a chance on him. Wisdom, apparently, is in as short supply as food.
What plays out is brutal, arresting and, yet, essentially about the undying nature of hope and human contact. It remains to be seen—hopefully via many more films—if the 31-year-old Fingleton has a gift for onscreen gab, but already he possesses something rarer, a Bressonian confidence in stripped-down images and the suggestive tension of literary sci-fi. His drama exists in a lushly green universe of ruined people trapped in the psychology of survival. You’ll leave completely rapt.
Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf
Cast and crew