director: Steven Knight
writer: Steven Knight
starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Diane Lane, Jason Clarke and Djimon Hounsou
genre: Drama | Mystery
released: 24 January 2019( Greece), 25 January 2019 (USA), 20 February 2019 (Australia, on demand), 2 May 2019 (Germany)
Going into films cold is a blessing in disguise, especially when its trailer doesn’t let you in on the game that is being played on you. A game unknown to us but known to the production of the film very well with its risky plot, that at first will make you want to pull your hair out, but then later with one of the most unexpected of endings I’ve personally seen in a while might then change your mind.
On the Island of Plymouth where everybody knows everything, Fishing Boat Captain Baker Dill (Matthew McConaughey) has a drive in his life he does not know why, but follows it nonetheless to constantly please someone of their deepest wishes. When something will come to the island of Plymouth that will make him change his drive and find a new purpose in life. The island will know and be concerned if Captain Dill is on the right track, but temptation might be too great for him with the arrival of his ex wife on the island and the path he will choose to take.
First impressions of watching this film and during about its first two acts is not of a nightmare, but of a turbulent boat ride until you find shore with its third act. Which the film to its credit gives clues early on of its conclusion and that are vague to say the least in the beginning. As the film acts as your normal thriller plot, with a father who is a slight deadbeat who deserves a second chance and is looking for redemption. Albeit, with minor moments that only make more sense after its big reveal as I’ll keep on reintegrating.
These minor moments that range from weird music cues, odd direction that is stylish for the wrong reasons initially and time differences that make no sense, but then as you expected then do. Things you will notice are for example swerving camera shots across the characters or Anne Hathaway’s character’s ring shining bright out of nowhere. You might be wondering why I’m beating around the bush and not even describing out right some of these instances. However its best you know as little as possible in order for the film’s change of pace and creative narrative not to be given away .
Additionally, while watching the film you will also be confused at the beginning on what its true meaning is, as it just seems as if the film wasn’t a thriller for the first ten minutes or so, but a silly film about a man’s obsession with a giant tuna. This again makes more sense later on and you will get a cleansing feeling of ease once it all starts to click. Pretty much you are going through the motions as with Captain Bill in the story realizing the purpose of it all and this jarring treatment of the content is one of the few times you will forgive a filmmaker with messing with his audience frame of mind and patience.
However, there is a catch in this direction and certain pitfalls and a slight logical fallacy that is possibly created. The fallacy of which the writer/director Steven Knight created for himself, is that he created a reality with elements that make no sense after the film’s big revelation. Some also could be seen as unnecessary such as the character’s backstory where Captain Bill is partaking in activities that by the end of the film he actually didn’t have to do or look bad on him. Now this could be thinking way too deep into the film’s plot elements and that Steven Knight had actually thought these things through and meant for them to be that way due to the realistic & creative mind of the “creator” who made the rules. However, that is also maybe giving him too much credit at the same time. Moreover, one might even admire this film and its elements much more upon a second viewing, but on its first, it does have issues despite its greatness towards the end.
Having an open mind with this film is the way to go and to be patient with the punches and hopefully your taken away by its filmmaking methodology and not hate in the process. As its change of pace is surprisingly good, the acting is exceptional and the plot is something that you might say you haven’t entirely seen before or not in this style and execution.