New Order Movie Review
I have a two-year-old, and we recently introduced her to the bestselling children’s book The Pout-Pout Fish, about a fish who “spreads the dreary-wearies all over the place.” What does a kid’s book have to do with the foreign-language drama New Order? Well, writer/director Michel Franco apparently set out to spread the dreary-wearies all over the place with his new film, one of the darkest and most depressing movies of 2020.
Humorously described on IMDb as being about “a high-society wedding [that] is interrupted by the arrival of unwelcome guests,” New Order is actually about a peasant uprising who, through force, capture, torture, and rape countless socialites to extort them for money.
I’m a huge fan of dreary-weary films, but New Order is relentlessly punishing and Franco has little interest in happy endings. Which makes the whole thing a bit numbing. As the movie becomes bleaker and bleaker, as worse and worse things happen to the characters (does it have a lead protagonist?), you’re at least left to hope for some cheery-cheeries in the end. They never come.
And while it’s clear Franco was attempting to tell a story about class warfare and what it takes to drive a population to the breaking point, the film’s purpose gets lost somewhere in the negativity of it all. Perhaps had he ended things differently--not necessarily happily, but with some semblance of resolution--New Order could be appreciated under a more positive light. There’s a lot of good work on display here, with some intriguing characters to follow and themes to explore, but the point of it all never quite comes to focus.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.