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“She Brings New Blood” – Inexorable (TIFF 2021 Film Review)

3 min read

Still Courtesy - Playtime

David Cuevas takes a look at ‘Inexorable′, as part of FilmHounds' ongoing Toronto International Film Festival coverage.

A grandiose inherited estate, an adorable fluffy dog, and a family adorned and surrounded by artificial decorations of wealth. The latest thriller from Belgian genre connoisseur Fabrice Du Welz opens in formidable fashion with the traditional arrangement of its standard cast of seemingly ordinary characters. In its setup, Du Welz translates his publishing world-set thriller with the same confines of an old mystery novel. The beguiling atmosphere grips the viewer with its blood-red text, ambient droning score, and alternating colour palette. By design, Du Welz attempts to translate his cautionary tale on the overwhelming power of fandom with a heavy stylistic implementation of expressionistic pulp; where the result is a familiar albeit gripping melodrama that continuously hooks its viewer through various cycles of unnerving character revelations. 

Admittedly, the narrative at the core of Du Welz's Inexorable is arguably the weakest link in contrast with the technically proficient storytelling. The ‘unwanted guest' trope is repeated in an emotional whirlwind that combines melodrama and psychological thriller into one nail biting feature. The film is structurally sound, providing ample leeway into the evolving tension at the core of its nasty little secrets. But the combination of the pre-established literary world and the aforementioned tropes fail to fully mesh. The title of the film is after all in reference to a fictional novel written by the film's lead protagonist; an important plot beat that is drastically overlooked. Especially with the references and twist(s) revolving around the fictional book, screenwriters Du Welz, Molas, and Darcy-Hopkins should have provided more background detail on the romantic logistics and subtextual riches of fictional text entitled ‘Inexorable'. 

Still Courtesy – Playtime

Even when the film treads narrative territory that borders on the cliched and questionably misogynistic, the strongest aspect of Du Welz's film is his confrontational voice. His direction is slick, utilising the most out of articulate blocking and spatial division between characters to amplify the exchange of mutual power roles and scene dominance. The film is economical in its storytelling, where virtually every beat is necessary in demonstrating a unique transition or plot revelation to further strengthen the film's growing tension. The sexually explicit material is also strangely relevant, in contrast to the film's heavy focus on weaponised sensuality and eroticism. 

But most prominently, colour correction and exaggerated lighting fixtures augment Inexorable's hostile scenes of violence and exposition; further providing meaningful eye candy amidst a misconstrued screenplay. The muted palettes exemplify the film's shadows, almost becoming archival in presentation — if it wasn't for the inclusion of modern props such as iPhones, techno-savvy vans, and MacBooks. It's a modern film with an endearing mode of impractical 16mm-fuelled presentation. Inexorable is a chilling thriller, one that benefits from the participation of one of the greatest Belgian-based auteurs working today, a messy screenplay riddled with underwhelming twists, and some genuinely awe-inspiring ideas; all infused into one giant ambitious genre amalgamation. 

Still Courtesy – Playtime
Inexorable screened at this year's as part of the Special Presentations program. The film is currently seeking international distribution.

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