Friday, October 16, 2020

NEW ORDER / NUEVO ORDEN - BFI London Film Festival 2020 - Day

NEW ORDER is a nasty brutal short film about social inequality, envy and corruption.  As the film opens, patients are being kicked off hospital beds to accommodate the victims of a brutal social uprising. We cut to naked cadavers splattered with green paint.  We then cut as brutally again to a wedding in a spectacular mansion where guests hand envelopes bulging with cash to the bride and her mother locks them in a safe.  Their old gardener interrupts the celebrations. His wife is desperately ill but was kicked out of the hospital and now he needs money for a private operation. Mother, father, brother all reject charity but the bride wants to help, and when the social justice rioters reach the wedding house and start shooting and looting, she flees with the gardener. A day later, the house is a scene of carnage and murder.  The bride, who had taken shelter with the gardener, is seized by armed militia.  She's rounded up with other rich people, brutalised, raped and then offered up for ransom.  As the movie ends, whatever this New Order is that has staged the coup has become as bad as the old regime - and may indeed be in cahoots with parts of it.  We end the film with extrajudicial killings.

What is director Michel Franco trying to do with this film?  He rightly shows how the politics of envy underlies a lot of modern political unrest. He rightly shows that rich people can be really self-centred. He rightly shows that there is brutality at the heart of humanity and in that sense, this film makes an interesting companion piece to SHADOW COUNTRY, also playing in this festival. But these are not especially radical thoughts, and I didn't care about any of these characters. The movie soon became a kind of thought exercise - what would happen if...?  And I would have liked more precision and clarity around the ending. 

NEW ORDER has a running time of 88 minutes.  It played Venice 2020 where it won the Silver Lion. It also played Toronto, San Sebastian and London 2020.  It does not yet have a commercial release data.

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