We can’t wait to see the new movie Sundown by Mexican director Michel Franco. But the truth is that, after nearly a year, we are still obsessed by his brutally political New Order (Grand Jury Prize or, using Diego Boneta words after the Awards Ceremony, “the second prize for the importance given at the 77th Venice Film Festival”).
Out today in the United Kingdom and Ireland, New Order is a brutal attack on the wealthy Mexican class, a movie in which despair, poverty, revenge, and, above all, political interests are mixed; exploiting people unaware of being an instrument in the hands of a corrupt government.
Michel Franco is cold as ice, there is no room for sympathy, and he stabs the audience right in the heart with no mercy.
We are in a marvelous villa, designed by the bride’s brother Daniel (Diego Boneta, who better than him for the role, son’s of two architects), ready for a society wedding attended by people from Mexico City elite. In the meantime, on the other side of the city, there are chaotic protests that create a little apprehension among the guests, especially when their mark, green paint, starts to run through the bathroom basin, making the tap water green. A few minutes later, former servant Rolando (Eligio Meléndez) “knock” at the door begging for a large sum of money to pay for his wife’s heart surgery.
When bride-to-be Marianne (Naian Gonzàlez Norvind, Gotham) found out about it, from the bottom of her soft heart, she decides to help and start to collect some cash leaving the party with her servant Cristiàn (Fernando Cuautle, No Man’s Land).
But it’s Michel Franco, and he was fooling us, so as soon as we think the Marianne, Cristiàn, and Rolando good hearts have somehow spared them, we found ourselves dead wrong; and we are suddenly wondering if it wouldn’t be better for Marianne to be at home despite the tragedy that was happening behind those walls.
New Order has all that is necessary for making it a great thriller, besides one thing: the risk-free entertainment and minute by minute we are linked to the screen, against our will, with a strong sense of nausea for the cruelty and the cynical injustice shown. Something that remains even when you are free to leave the screen-room; because New Order persuades you that it can be a real-life consequence of what, nowadays, inequality can cause, making you feel dirty and uncomfortable.
New Order, and the extraordinary cast and crew, deserved the long applause after the screening in Venice. And, to be honest, after ten years of awards ceremonies and premieres all around the world, that closing night in Venice, when the Grand Jury Prize was announced; well, that was one of the rare times I felt that the choice couldn’t be a better one because it was extremely well deserved.
Naian Gonzàlez Norvind’s performance is breath-taking as well as the one from her on-screen brother Diego Boneta (Rock of Ages, Luis Miguel – The Series, Die in a Gunfight) despite his little time on screen. Naian Gonzàlez is outstanding in that opening scene in her red pantsuit (she was in red at the screening in Venice too). A red pantsuit that, mixed with the green paint (that doesn’t even spare the flagship store on Mexico City’s chic Avenida Presidente Masaryk), can’t help but bring to mind a creepy Joker effect.
New Order score is the icing on the cake. It touches its apex when the movie opens with Shostakovich’s The Year 1905 from Symphony n°11 in G minor, portrayal of the infamous Bloody Sunday when a peaceful demonstration of 150,000 unarmed people outside the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg was crushed by the czar’s Cossacks; while that abstract art mural that looks like a Picasso’s Guernica, in hindsight, it sounds like a clear alarm bell of what our next 89 minutes will be.
The closing credits go by with no music over them, and I think that was the best way to protect the audience, giving them time to readjust.
New Order, out August 13th in United Kingdom and Ireland