Ever since the last Toronto International Film Festival, I've been wanting to see Martyrs. The movie generated quite a bit of controversy in France; apparently it was given an 18+ rating, which is equivalent to banning the movie. We rented and watched the movie tonight and I thought the movie was fantastic. I think I know why it got the rating it did: there's quite a bit of killing and torture everywhere. It isn't "torture porn", because every scene is required and has no more torture, beating, killing, or blood than is absolutely necessary to tell he story..
The movie centers around Lucie, who has been kidnapped, beaten, and tortured as a child, and her close friend Anna, who will do everything she can to help Lucie. The movie is clearly divided into two parts. The first half tells the story of Lucie finding the people who kidnapped, beat, and tortured her... and what she does with that knowledge. Lucie is clearly the main focus of the first half of the movie even though Anna is present and functioning.
This focus changes in the second half of the story. Here, Anna takes Lucie's place and is tortured and beaten herself. The second half does sometimes feel as though it's dragging a bit because the viewer is presented with image after image after image of Anna in the torture chamber, mostly receiving beatings. There is no soundtrack during this part of the movie; there is no music to cover these sounds, which also makes the viewer that much more aware of passing time..
This is an extremely powerful movie and although we highly recommend it, it's definitely not for the faint of heart. There's more going on that what the viewer sees... and it's up to the viewer to put much of the story together. I won't tell you what the point of the story is because that's something you need to find out for yourself. I think I would like to see this movie again because I think that it's a multi-layered movie and I could learn more from the extra scrutiny.
After watching that deep and difficult movie, we decided to watch the original Dawn of the Dead, one of the classic Romero zombie movies. In this one, our protagonists hole themselves up in a shopping mall. I'd love to have complete, free access to a mall - it's like a dream come true! Except for the zombies, of course, and anyone who knows anything about protecting oneself from zombies knows that a mall isn't a defensible location. There are too many open spaces.
That aside, this is quite a good, if slightly long, zombie movie. The people behave like you'd expect people to behave in this situation, and the movie does a fine job of showing what it would be like for people to move forward into the unknown. The sets feel claustrophobic, the people start snapping at each other, there are warring factions, and all along, there's the doomsday knowledge that the zombies are trying to eat them. This is also a movie that's definitely worth watching. Of course there's some gore and whatnot, but it *is* a zombie movie... and what's a zombie movie without zombie blood (and zombie humour)?