Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The Divide, dir. Xavier Gens, wr. Karl Mueller, Eron Sheean, st. Michael Biehn, Lauren German, Milo Ventimiglia

Anyone who's seen Gens' nihilistic, ultra-violent Frontière(s) will know what they're letting themselves in for here - don't let the B-list names fool you. According to Biehn, Gens gave all his actors carte blanche to make any changes to their characters that they wished; that the film is chaotic and narratively schizophrenic comes as no surprise. The story is a familiar post-apocalyptic yarn of descent into depravity; following a nuclear strike on an unnamed city, a group of strangers shelter in their landlord's basement. As  food, water and trust begins to run out, the group turn in on themselves, regressing to bestial, often unwatchable behaviour. Compared with something like Fernando Meirelles Blindness back in 2008, another film in which a global catastrophe has man sacrificing compassion for survival, the baseness here is savage and monstrous, the uncertainty of what lies beyond the basement helping to give the film the isolation it needs to quash any sense of real humanity. By contrast, the over-exposed luminosity of Meirelles' film - a clever take on depicting the blindness itself - always allows the real world in to the proceedings, grounding the film with an essential realism. The Divide proves that nothing worth preserving grows in a barren cinematic landscape utterly devoid of empathy or feeling.