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ICFF 2018 Review: “Compulsion” (2016) ★★


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There’s always one reason why I try to support indie cinema and its filmmakers – it’s never easy to get enough funding, find the right players with limited opportunities while productions from big studios always have enough coverage, money, and time to do whatever they want to give us a decent product to watch. In a film like “Compulsion”, written by Brian Clark and directed by Craig Goodwill, you can feel how many gaps the film has, and the tremendous effort put by actors to make it as good as it could get. And to be honest, just because of Analeigh Tipton and Marta Gastini’s effort, I truly want more films like this to come out, even though the majority may despise it.

The film follows a successful female erotic novelist, Sadie (Analiegh Tipton), who, while on her book tour in Europe, has a fight with her boyfriend Thierry (Valentin Merlet) and due to her anger agreed to join her ex Alex and his female friend Francesca to attend a private party at a castle owned by a dangerous cult who seems to have their own way to escape any dark event occuring at the time.

Sadie is an open-minded writer who is always in search of a new theme or idea for her new book, which she successfully finds in Francesca, a young, bold and attractive woman who does not mind to explore all the boundaries set by the normality of life. But if Sadie was who all other human beings are – too careful with their own desires or afraid to open up about them, Sadie would not be a successful novelist, who seems to want to live the same life her characters live in.

There’s one major issue the film has – and that is its flat plot, being too predictable, and having nothing new to offer. However, it has something bigger than just a storyline that, at least for me, made me disregard the drawbacks – totally uncompromised and impressive performances delivered by Analeigh Tipton and Marta Gastini. Both women tried their best to enter the skin of their characters and deliver something new and dear so that we the viewer can admire it.

Another issue with “Compulsion” is that it simply can’t avoid anything that explores female sexuality, cult or sexuality overall which has always been referred in Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece called “Eyes Wide Shut”. And that’s something I don’t want to do as I have no desire to undermine the effort and time invested into it by Craig Goodwill, who has his own challenges to make the film. But there are still good things to name in defense of “Compulsion” like the editing which helped the film to get some form, the location and the right castle selected that fits into the dark mood of “Compulsion”.

In conclusion, “Compulsion” is far from being a masterpiece or even a decent piece, but it’s worthwhile seeing. Indeed, some picky viewers might turn it off sometime after twenty minutes of its start, but try to give it a chance and see what else it has to offer, even though whatever it is will be quickly forgotten. But in the end, there are plenty of films that can be called awful or terrible, but “Compulsion” won’t be one of them.

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