Film (2012). Fox Searchlight Pictures in association with 1737 Films/Skyscraper. Directed by Zal Batmanglij. Written by Marling & Batmanglij. Cast includes Chris Denham, Brit Marling and Nicole Vicius. 85 minutes. Colour.
A couple infiltrate a cult led by a woman claiming to be from the future and preparing for a coming apocalypse; they secretly film a documentary intended to expose her, but are drawn in different directions as their commitment is tested by a series of increasingly alarming challenges.
Written as the first part of a potential trilogy, this adroitly poised enigma piles each side of the scale in turn with revelations as to whether cult leader Maggie (Marling) is what she claims or what the increasingly sinister authorities claim her to be, ramping up the tension as the stakes rise with each episode; it comes as no surprise that the ending offers only a provisional disambiguation, and a new set of narratogenic puzzles. The film is unusual in having been conceived independently of medium as a serial narrative for Internet, Television, or film; this is partly reflected in its internal division into ten episodes, though this becomes an integral feature of the rhetoric and pacing of the film version. The exploration of cult techniques and the associated Paranoia is particularly effective in the cognitively unstable framework of a film which pointedly withholds certainty as to whether or not it is science fiction. [NL]
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