It begins with the most striking opening shot. A woman gasps for air. Like the rest of the film, there will always be suggestion that something unsettling has happened just before the camera started rolling. (I think the realist version of this are the stories Scarlett Johansson told about what Woody Allen used to ask her before they started performing in scenes together. Yuck). For a moment you watch, disturbed, concerned. And then a brutal, messy fight breaks out between two leads. You don’t know who they are or why they’re fighting.
This motiveless motion weaves itself into the fabric of the film. There is no effort to explain or rationalise what you are seeing. It’s often quite disturbing, so our minds race to explain (or excuse) the characters as they always do. But explanations will not come. With no explicit motive, the conclusions we draw must only stem from our own prejudices. The whisper of an oppressed woman that creeps into your ear can only come from within you.
The violence from the opening scene runs through the whole movie. There is the constant threat that it will erupt again. The white sun beats down, baking every inch of the screen. Words seem to evaporate from character’s mouths. Landscape becomes a cauldron. Skin is blistered and red and dripping. Perhaps violence is the only way to manage such conditions.
Kate Lyn Sheil leads the movie with an astonishingly human performance. Flickering between seduction, child-like vulnerability, jealousy and anger in seconds. But physically…she plays her movements with a strange deliberate passivity that contradicts the multitude of emotion in her eyes.
We gather that there has been a murder, and these characters are caught in the limbo between the act and the arrest. They are aware that they have finalised their freedom, but that knowledge has brought an instinctiveness and immediacy to their every move. They know that these hours will be the most vivid hours of their life; the ones they will replay over and over in their jail cells. It brings a certain half-consciousness to the proceedings, as if they’ve just woken up and are unsure as to where they are.
They are characters living with the end, every second bringing them closer to a conclusion. It’s the beauty of cinema. It always has an end.