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TIFF 2018 Review: “The River” (2018) ★★


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Remember Yorgos Lanthimos’ “Dogtooth” that told the story of one strange family and its grownup children with brains of a five year-old child? Well, Emir Baigazin was seemingly inspired by the already mentioned masterpiece and decided to make his own. But unfortunately, a potentially great material turned into an empty and pointless piece that had nothing genuine and authentic to offer.

“The River” follows five young brothers whose lives were all about the deserted place where they lived under the strict control of their father. “I built this house for them to protect from lies”, he says in the beginning. Of course, there’s a truth to his words, but the approach he so successfully took in the parenting of his children is in great danger when the children discover the modern world they knew nothing about.

The first half an hour of the film could not have been any slower. All that we see, and don’t get me wrong, is the brothers going back and forth to the river, play games, work or get punished by their father for not overthinking. And how could they, if he leaves no room for creativity?

Sadly, “The River” misses the aim to become one of the most poignant movies. Of course, trying never hurts, but that is just plain excuse for a movie like this that could have been much better and bigger than it was.

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