Today: February 24, 2024
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Retreat

It seems that epidemics are the flavour of the month at the cinemas, just as the winter flu season arrives and governments start issuing a rash of new scaremongering warnings of pandemics, sponsored by Big Pharma (viral marketing?).

It
seems that epidemics are the flavour of the month at the cinemas, just as the
winter flu season arrives and governments start issuing a rash of new
scaremongering warnings of pandemics, sponsored by Big Pharma (viral
marketing?).

Last week saw David Mackenzie’s Perfect
Sense
, along while indie films Phase
7
from Argentina and the very bleak The
Divide
, which both showed at SCI-FI-LONDON’s Oktoberfest. This week we see
a new disease hit (or not) a remote Scottish island and like The Divide it’s
not surviving the end of the world that’s the problem, it’s who you find
yourself surviving with.

Martin (Cillian
Murphy
), an architect, takes his wife Kate (Thandie Newton), a journalist, back to a remote cottage where they
once spent a romantic holiday, in the hope of strengthening their faltering
marriage after the stillbirth of their child. The cottage has an old generator
to give them power and a CB radio so they can keep contact with the mainland in
case of emergencies. As their relationship starts to fail, so does the generator
and their radio link. After a heavy storm, they spot a badly injured soldier (Jamie Bell) and take him back to the
cottage. When he recovers, he tells them there is a deadly airborne virus
sweeping the world and their only protection is to seal themselves inside the
cottage until the danger has passed. It’s not long before they are pitting
themselves against each other as they discover the harsh reality of their
situation.

Conceptually, the movie plays out like a
cross between Dead Calm and Right at Your Door, except with a
Hebridean setting, and although some of the action is obviously signposted, it
doesn’t always point in the right direction, which manages to keep the tension
high with some surprising twists and turns.

Essentially a three-hander, there is a lot of
demand put upon the actors. Newton tends to over-emote and Murphy is his usual
slightly bland self. However, as he does in all his movies (he even made Jumper
watchable), it is Jamie Bell who steals the film. Unfortunately, he seems to
still be suffering from the legacy of Billy Elliot and his latest blockbuster
role as Tintin isn’t really going to fully show what he is capable of.

This is a solid, British indie thriller that
owes as much to theatre as it does to cinema, and undermines any faith in
humanity you may have gleaned from Perfect Sense. And if you survive this, Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion is already incubating away.

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