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CANNES 2024 Proyecciones de medianoche

Crítica: The Surfer

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- CANNES 2024: Nicolas Cage vuelve a darlo todo en el thriller psicológico playero de Lorcan Finnegan

Crítica: The Surfer
Nicolas Cage en The Surfer

Este artículo está disponible en inglés.

Judging by the title of Irish filmmaker Lorcan Finnegan’s fourth feature, The Surfer [+lee también:
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, one would expect to see a protagonist defined by the aquatic sport. However, the (visibly) 40- or 50-year-old main (but nameless) character (played by none other than Nicolas Cage) wears a suit and drives an expensive automobile. The film opens with a car sequence where he is lecturing his teenage son (Finn Little) about the transcendental qualities of surfing. His speech is poetic and abstract in a funny way, revealing more nervousness than philosophy. Divorce, estrangement and the fact that fatherhood is slipping through his fingers paint the Surfer as an instantly likeable character. But take Finnegan’s penchant for uncanny worldbuilding, Cage’s willingness to come undone in the name of art, and the fact that The Surfer premiered as a Cannes Midnight Screening, and you already know things will not be as clear-cut as that.

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Having lost his own father at a young age, Cage’s character is keen to give his son the best he can, and that is why they both find themselves driving through South Australia to a remote place called Luna Bay: the Surfer was born and raised there. But as soon as father and son get down to the beach to, ahem, surf, an aggressive gang warns them with the words: “Don’t live here, don’t surf here.” Tensions only escalate from then on, and The Surfer looks like just another film where the outsiders get punished. A profound sense of injustice fuels Cage’s performance, and a trained viewer will take pleasure in watching him take in insults and abuse until he can take no more. Appreciators of Mandy [+lee también:
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or even Color Out of Space, you’re in for a treat.

Finnegan has not been in the limelight since Vivarium [+lee también:
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, the dystopian housing thriller starring Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots, and while in the meantime he made Nocebo [+lee también:
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, a chilling horror led by Eva Green, the latter’s release got botched post-pandemic. Now, with Cage by his side, one hopes to see the interest towards Finnegan’s sharp genre sensitivity rekindled. Luckily, the newest film boasts a script by Thomas Martin that is peppered with unsettling jokes and encroaching dread, just the way Finnegan likes it. The Surfer may just become a big-screen breakthrough for the Irish screenwriter, who has worked mostly for TV until now. There’s a lot of potential to be found in this beach-bound psychological thriller.

What’s at stake is a beach house – apparently the Surfer’s old childhood home – and even though we never see the home in question, it represents a guiding light in the dark and a way to negotiate the obstacles that follow. If – the protagonist hopes – he can buy back the house before Christmas, life will be good again. But the overprotective “beach boy” gang has other plans. As usual, Finnegan reinvents claustrophobia as implicated in the social fabric, questioning the normativity of interpersonal encounters by making them uncanny and illogical. That said, he does not come across as a pessimistic filmmaker; if anything, his sense of dark humour reaches its peak with The Surfer. Imbued with an honest sense of self-deprecation, the film pokes fun at toxic masculinity and incel culture, as well as the paranoia surrounding it. But underneath it all, everyone’s motivation is love, and love can sometimes look like lunacy. In this way, Finnegan cleverly subverts the Luna Bay surfers’ "surf-suffer rule" and suggests that any cycle of violence can be broken.

The Surfer was produced by Tea Shop Productions (UK), Lovely Productions (Ireland), Arenamedia Pty (Australia) and Gramercy Media (USA). North Five Six handles the film’s international sales.

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(Traducción del inglés)

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