Powered by Blogger.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Review: Wretch

Director: Matthew Donehoo
Screenplay: Matthew Donehoo
Year: 2020

While Nat recovers from his alcoholism, his boyfriend is diagnosed with aggressive cancer and that leads him to seek the aid of his eccentric boss Jean. Jean introduces him to an esoteric healing modality known as enceladism in which Nat sees an opportunity to help his partner. Alongside a mentor and author of books about the technique, Nat starts to get instructed in it but soon discovers that its potential can be as healing as well destructive.

“Wretch” starts with the dictionary definition of the word enceladism, which I am grateful for as I have never heard it before, and my spell check refuses to accept. A quick search reveals that this world does not exist and that it was created in this movie, and this brings back some of my grammatical self-esteem. Enceladism is a healing modality based on focusing intention with the objective of eliminating a disease. 

During the first scenes we meet Nat, interpreted by (“Alaska is a Drag”) and we witness his life once he gets to a small United States town. More realistic than stereotypical, Nat falls victim to rejection because of his skin color as well as by his sexual orientation, a frequent problem seen in small conservative towns in the US, and which becomes important in several key moments of the plot. On the other hand, Jena (Shannon Conley) is the complete opposite, a free spirit with eccentric and liberal ideas that you can perceive from the way she dresses and talks, as well as by how she lives. 

It is Jena who introduces Nat to enceladism, where Nat sees an opportunity to help his partner that has been diagnosed with an aggressive kind of cancer and who now is away from Nat because of his mother, a conservative Christian interpreted by Maria Olsen (“I Spit In Your Grave: Deja Vu”, “The Bone Box”) that does not approve of their homosexual relationship. Nat, a bit skeptical at first by what seems like an illegal and even fraudulent practice, decides to give it a chance and discover that, even when it almost takes his life, was effective in the healing process of his partner and this leads him and Jean to continue the practice alongside an enceladism mentor interpreted by Joe Rooney. 

The initial scenes, besides establishing the topic of the movie, are also used to establish the style and tone that accompanies it. The cinematography is one of the first things to stand out along the strange but effective soundtrack, which ranges from 80’s synth music, cool jazz, modern electronic music and even heavy metal that emphasizes the tone of each scene that is only affected by some special effects that don’t look good. All this plays in favor of the movie, but it is the surprisingly good acting from the whole cast, particularly from the protagonist Washington Jr., what makes the characters and their development so effective and intriguing. 

The creative and smart script from Matthew Donehoo also directing his first full feature film, is another of its strengths. Donehoo crafts a story in which every event is gradually and deliberately developed and where little is forced through exposition, which at the same time assumes the risk of being hard to decipher. This requires the viewer to be actively engaged in the development of the plot to understand what is going on and is emphasized with the number of plot points that are left loose until the final stretch where they all meet and close the circle. 

“Wretch” contrasts practices that are ever more popular and accepted in modern life with the conservative environment that still lingers in some small US towns. The plot deliberately and constantly changes the path it takes and keeps the viewer submerged in the development of the plot, boosted by the great acting, cinematography, and music. Those that enjoy dense plots and deep character studies will certainly enjoy this movie.

No comments:

Post a Comment