Sundance 2021: “The Blazing World”

© Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Sundance 2021 is filled with fantastic feature films by first-time directors. Be it Rebecca Hall’s subtle “Passing”, Robin Wright’s “Land” or Fran Kranz’s thought-provoking “Mass”, all of them are shining lights in the darkness. Now, it’s Carlson Young’s turn to get the well deserved praise for her work in “The Blazing World”.

Margaret (Carlson Young) was six years old when she, in a tragic accident, loses her twin sister. Haunted by the past loss, and unable to move on, the young woman returns home. However, she then meets a mysterious man (Udo Kir), who assures her if she joins him in his realm she might be able to save her sister, who is in between death and life.

Margaret and Elizabeth were playing by the tree when her abusive father (Dermot Mulroney), once again, was ruthless towards his wife. This is when the little girl, Margaret, after hearing a loud noise coming out from the house, gets closer to hear better. Her sister,  Elizabeth, went closer to the pool when she, after falling in, drowned shortly after. Consumed by emotional loss, a chain of events of early trauma brings out a strange outcome when Margaret must face three demons, to release her beloved sister.

“The Blazing World” is based on Carlson Young’s short film bearing the same title, which she turns into a full feature film. Surprisingly, with her confident direction, she delivers the fear and loneliness of her character not just through the actors but as a director too. She recreates a fantasy realm that puts Margaret into a difficult position, which if she accepts the terms she may never come back into real life.

That said, “The Blazing World” is a very engaging film that, once again, explores the theme of loss of a child and a sister who leaves a big scar on her family. It’s a heartbreaking story of a family that was torn apart and must find a way to get back to each other. Until then, they must survive in the unforgiving and hungry blazing world that feeds itself with pain, grief and sorrow, and only Margaret can put a full stop to it.

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