Film review: ‘Watcher’ a well-crafted voyeur thriller | Movies

By Katie Walsh Tribune News Service

In Chloe Okuno’s elegant debut, “Watcher,” the title refers not to one person, but to two, as the watched becomes the watcher, the stalker and the hunted changing places throughout this psychological thriller. cold.

Working in the vein of ’70s horror, Okuno’s ‘Watcher’ dialogues with films such as Roman Polanski’s ‘Repulsion’ and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’, nods to Andrzej Zulawski’s ‘Possession’ with its eerie European setting, and features a blonde Hitchcock as heroine Julia (Maika Monroe).

But these films about vulnerable women caught in voyeuristic traps were all made by men, and with Okuno, a writer and director, telling the story, it’s a different outcome, emotionally and ethically complex, but undeniable in its bold clarity.

Newlyweds Julia and Francis (Karl Glusman) arrive in Bucharest, Romania, ready to start a new chapter in a new city. Francis, who is half-Romanian, has a high-profile publicity job, but Julia, a former actress, doesn’t have much to do. She roams the city, practicing her hesitant Romanian in cafes and trying to sightsee on her own.

People also read…

As a serial killer known as “The Spider” kills the women of Bucharest by slitting their throats, Julia realizes that she is under surveillance, and not just by the taxi drivers who call “beautiful”. Through the oversized bay windows of their apartment, she notices someone (Burn Gorman) across the street, staring at her, and suddenly he seems to be everywhere.

The brilliant thing about Julia in “Watcher” is that she does everything right, and yet it’s infuriating because it doesn’t protect her. She tells her husband as soon as she feels uncomfortable that this man is watching her, and reports the strange incidents when he follows her to shopkeepers and the police. But his actions, to the men around him, seem strange and sketchy.

Francis barely refrains from calling her crazy, though he refers to her experiences as “fantasy” and cleverly rationalizes this stranger’s behavior. All Julia has the agency and ability to do herself is just look back.

Okuno’s screenplay, which is based on a screenplay by Zack Ford, is pointed, deliberately, and there’s no mistaking what she’s trying to say about women’s intuition, men’s reluctance to believe and power systems that do not protect the vulnerable. She also uses space beautifully in her cinematic storytelling. The bay windows of the apartment become a prison panopticon, their visibility depriving the security of Julia’s intimate domestic space. The transparency of the windows juxtaposes the opaque wall she shares with her neighbor and only friend, Irina (Madalina Anea), through which the sound passes, transmitting deaf and mysterious information.

“Watcher” is a slow burn, but like its leading lady, it’s understated and elegant. Monroe’s performance is less than operatic, but the tension of containing her fear and maintaining her composure is palpable. Combined with the clever use of point-of-view shots (the cinematographer is Benjamin Kirk Nielsen), there’s a visceral sense of genuine, and specifically female, fear that Julia feels, whether grounded in the reality or not.

But the biggest trick Okuno pulls off in “Watcher” is getting the audience to question our own intuition and interpretation of events, of what we’ve seen and heard. It throws the viewer off balance just enough for the finale to be truly shocking, but rendered with the utmost control and refinement of style and emotion.

This beautifully crafted gem of a throwback thriller signifies Okuno as a talent to watch, but moreover, it probes the viewer to ask what, and whom, we choose to believe and why.


Source link

Comments are closed.