Wednesday 21 October 2020

NEW ORDER/NUEVO ORDEN - London Film Festival 2020

On the day of Marian's high society wedding, local dignitaries and politicians arrive at her parents house for the ceremony, despite the civil unrest and rioting that is happening on the neighbouring streets. Further complicating things, the registrar is running late and an ex-employee, Rolando, has arrived pleading with the family for money to fund the urgent surgery his wife needs. As Marian tries to get some cash together to help him, the violence in the streets threatens to penetrate the comfortable surroundings the assembled guests are in.

New Order begins with a brief montage... a threat of what's to come... showing violence, degradation, and the sight of a naked, blood soaked Marian (Naian Gonzalez Nervind) for us to interpret as we please. It then takes us back to the morning of Marian's wedding, where wealthy, important people arrive for her wedding at the grand, high walled house of her parents, each offering a financial gift to start off married life comfortably. So far, so Parasite. What follows flips the entire structure and driving narrative of the film on its head, instead demanding its audience take part in a disturbing, hard to stomach depiction of a world on fire, figuratively and literally.

Without wanting to spoil how much a rug pull the film employs at its halfway point, I'll just say that the scenes that take place in the ten minutes after the inciting incident are some of the most violent and graphic I've seen committed to film, and even after the pace of the film and the action slows down, New Order gleefully shocks you with more disgusting acts of violence. The social and political commentary subtext is clear, and the punishments delivered will be all too familiar to some regions of the world, and all too close to becoming a reality to others. However, I find that the filmmakers have taken a misstep along the way, as although I cannot fault the performances of the core cast, nor the impact it has had, New Order is a film I find difficult to recommend.

The world we live in is increasingly on a knife edge, and although I am sure that the aim of director Michel Franco is to show that we live in a fragile society, and all people are fallible and capable of the worst things imaginable when pushed, he needed to take a stronger standpoint against the fascists to offer any sort of entertainment value, instead offering no discernible delineation between privilege, greed, and full-on nazism. This is extreme cinema that wants you to question what form of dehumanising violence is more stomach churning than the other, asking you to account for your own complicity when you change the channel if footage of war torn countries appears on the nightly news.

A powerful, troubling indictment of society's worst impulses it may be, but the despicable lack of regard for human life means New Order will stay with you like a stain on your memory. An incredibly difficult watch that you won't want to repeat again.



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