crushing, a vice-like grip that’s locked in a confrontational power dynamic with its audience, the subtle shifts in its central relationship a blooming bruise, provocative and erotic, troubling and discomforting. george mackay does wonders with pinched brows and a clenched jaw, his performative, hulkingly masculine mas(c)k covering up unimaginable tenderness and pain. nathan stewart-jarrett matches that energy with performance that balances delicate self-preservation with a commanding confidence that is utterly radiant. it’s a remarkably beautiful film despite its bold and challenging narrative, one of the most powerful repudiations of toxic masculinity that we’ve seen in years.
if the falling ash is a harbinger of a future engulfed in the clutches of a raging inferno, then what to make of the sea, its algal bloom hauntingly alight? where do you turn? petzold frames each with remarkable weight, his apocalyptic eye always trained on leon’s psychological self-immolation. he’s an infuriating character to follow, which makes the blaze that’s left in his wake a pathetic kind of catharsis, humorously so at his most indolent, crushingly so at his most ignorant. the film’s quiet and efficient destruction leads us towards a volcanic end, the answers found amongst the charred remains.