by Júlia Olmo
- Lorcan Finnegan blends psychological thriller with folk horror to produce a film with disturbing social content
Something gets inside you and it is with you wherever you go, like a ghost that haunts you forever. It is in you all the time, you see it in everything, it makes you be someone else, it destroys you more and more. This is what happens to the protagonist of Nocebo [+see also:
film profile], a spectacular and disturbing Eva Green as a fashion designer suffering from a mysterious illness.
The latest film from Lorcan Finnegan (after the surprising Vivarium [+see also:
interview: Lorcan Finnegan
film profile]), presented this Friday in the official section of the 55th Sitges Film Festival, tells the story of this designer played by Green. Her apparently stable and orderly life (typical of the new intellectual upper classes, with a husband, a daughter, an artistic and prestigious job, a luxurious property with material possessions to match) is disrupted by this strange ailment. After months of illness, one day a Filipino carer comes to her home and convinces her to use a traditional medicine from her country that is supposed to help her heal. However, this treatment will reveal a horrifying truth.
Although this synopsis may not provide much clarity, with Nocebo it is better to face it with little knowledge, because one of its virtues is the mystery it manages to hold, its way of revealing, little by little, suggestively, this dark secret. Using form to get to the heart of the matter, Finnegan creates a disconcerting and lucid film that blends psychological thriller and folk horror to discuss the two sides of capitalism in the modern world, the divides of wealth and poverty. Therein lies the extraordinary thing about the film, in the surprising, bold and suggestive way in which the filmmaker manages to make social cinema. Nocebo speaks of the paradoxes of wealth, of the human face of exploitation and misery, but it does so from a different perspective to the norm, from the fantastic and horror, from a narrative and aesthetic proposal that is as elegant as it is chilling. It is interesting how from this formal approach, through the use of the symbolic and metaphorical sense of the elements, the meticulous details, the contrast between the exterior and the interior, the filmmaker poetically narrates a truth of our intimate and collective history, what happens to us as individuals and as a society, the precariousness with which we live and also the flip side of this exploitation, the contemporary personal and work relationships as a disease, an unfathomable evil.
In doing so, another of Finnegan's great and unique achievements is his ability to create lasting images. Just as the director knows how to control tension, discomfort and mystery, in Nocebo he also intelligently handles the emotional power of the image, of its power to create beauty in the dark. The film features terrifying images that are truly frightening, and others that are profoundly beautiful. Through these images, the filmmaker manages to express and transport us into the emotional and psychological states of the characters, into their dark inner and outer worlds.
Nocebo is an accomplished film, as suggestive as it is disturbing. The careful formal approach succeeds in getting to the heart of the matter, to those dark realities that inhabit us and in which we inhabit. A film that will likely stay with us long after its screening.
Nocebo is produced by the Irish company Lovely Productions and the British company Wild Swim Films with the participation of the Philippine company Epicmedia Productions Inc and executive produced by the American company XYZ Films.
(Translated by Vicky York)
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