Screened as part of NZIFF 2017
This disquieting, gorgeously crafted portrait of American gun culture was a direct response to the Dark Knight Rises cinema shooting in Aurora, Colorado. US distributors and theatre owners weren’t overjoyed about showcasing such a film, and it’s only now that general audiences can finally see what impressed those who saw it at its acclaimed Sundance and Venice premieres.
Sutton’s third feature is a dazzling cinéma vérité experience of the lives of six strangers, played by non-actors, over the course of one hot and sweaty Florida day. We observe the minutiae of the life of a mum and her videogame-playing son, a teen driving around town, an obsessive beauty queen, a couple of music junkies and an ex-soldier cleaning his guns. At first it seems like the characters’ arcs are part of one large unrelated tableau, but as we drift dreamily through their activities, jarring moments of disconnection and alienation begin to add up, and the suburban malaise transforms into something far more sinister and profound.
Those who were affected by Gus Van Sant’s Elephant will feel an eerily familiar claustrophobia as the film slowly unfolds towards its inevitable and gripping conclusion. — AT