(Release Info London schedule; July 11th, 2018, Picturehouse, 21:00)
Four siblings seek refuge in an old home after the death of their mother, only to discover that the house has another, more sinister, inhabitant, in this haunting directorial debut from Sergio G. Sánchez.
"Marrowbone" tells the story of Jack (George MacKay), Billy (Charlie Heaton), Jane (Mia Goth), and Sam (Matthew Stagg), 4 orphan siblings that only have each other and that face the threat of a voracious past, that doesn't let go and the promise of a future of light that doesn't really sets in. While they try to overcome that moment, they take shelter in a house, which actually is a great fiction that allows them to live under the mirage of being safe from that, which harms them. Jack, Billy, Jane, and Sam represent different way, sometimes opposed, sometimes complementary to face the trauma they've in common. That's why their inner relationships are so fascinating and complex. The main weight falls on Jack. As the older sibling, he faces the responsibility of looking after his siblings. He struggles with the usual concerns of a boy his age, his love for Allie (Anya Taylor-Joy), and the responsibility his mother has given him by asking him to keep the family together. He's a tortured character because he lives with anguish and emptiness in his memory and is constantly trying to close that hole.
By contrast, Jane, the second sister, symbolizes goodness in the absence of the mother. Whenever there's a violent or negative instinct, Jane compensates. She fights for the brothers can leave behind their painful past. Billy, the third of the siblings, is perhaps the most troublesome. He represents courage, the bravery that Jack sometimes lacks. In return he has a tendency to rush and move towards the dark side. It contrasts with Jane, who leads the family into the light. Billy is therefore one of the most interesting characters in the story as it condenses the fears of the group, the fear with which they've to learn to live with. He's only a teenager who, like the boys of his age, wants to explore, feel free. A vehemence that given the peculiar situation in which his family is, turns out to be counterproductive and dangerous. The most obvious metaphor for summarizing Billy's character corresponds to that of a caged bird that's eager to fly.
The fourth brother is Sam. He's the youngest, so everyone feels they've to overprotect him by hiding the most scabrous aspects that have led them to their present situation, which is funny considering Sam is very conscious of what happens. In this sense, Sam is a fundamental pillar of the family. He tries to remain innocent before his siblings, as if he fears to put them in danger if he verbalizes everything he knows. It seems that his older siblings need to believe that he's more tender and naive than he really is. For them, his innocence is living proof that not everything is corrupted in the world. Allie is practically the only link they've with the outside world, the lens through which they observe what goes on outside the walls of their little microcosm. She's a bright, cheerful character that holds us to the story and the moment in which it happens. Allie represents the real world. Her life is radically different from the sibling's one. The romance between Jack and Allie accurately sums up the idiosyncrasy of both characters. It's teenage love shared by two young people who neither want nor have time to consider where it will lead.
There's another character that's also essential and has to do with the Asturias nebula. It's the house where the siblings live, the miniature universe that frees and cages them at the same time, and which, although in the film is located in a fictional point of Maine. The protagonists live in the world with their own rules, invisible to society that continues with their concerns on the other side. All this is very easy to convey thanks to the house they chose, because it's totally isolated, with no signs of modern life around it, as if the history had really run it's course without it. In addition to the house, it's also important the recreation of the town that Jack visits on occasions to run errands. This village is conceived in the film to aggressively contrast with the reality of the house. While this has barely evolved since 1931, when the house was closed, the village people live fully in the year that corresponds to them, 1969. It's a town that we don't see much in terms of footage, but the feeling that you are somewhere else has to be very fast. The chosen place is 'The Old Factory Of Arms Of Oviedo', which also has to be transformed to fit the geographical and temporary needs of the story.
"Marrowbone" is Sergio G. Sánchez's filmmaker debut. Up until now, Sánchez had been responsible for some of the best screenplays of recent Spanish cinema, praised for his ability to manage emotions and connect almost immediately with the audience. Especially well known are "The Orphanage" and "The Impossible". It's a complex story, with different time lines, with several twists. This idea of a novel in installments is not by chance. "Marrowbone" shares with this type of literature the presence of an independent universe, filled with secrets that entices the audience and invites them to stay and live inside. The odyssey of four siblings that cross the Atlantic escaping from a mysterious trauma with a life of it's own. The four siblings are flesh and bone people. One wants to stay and live with them, know their secrets and be by their side in their fears. A great deal of it comes from the special interest in childhood, youth and all which happens when their characters swim into the deep and dark water of adulthood. It's not by chance that "Marrowbone's" main characters are four kids that haven't yet reach adulthood. The same way "The Orphanage" and "The Impossible" placed the lights and shadows of childhood at the core. The film defends the importance of fiction as a medicine to cure deep wounds or even as shelter for a hostile reality we're not able to manage. It's a combination of fantasy and terror and drama genre. The film creates a cinema, which is analogous and supplementary, with obsessions and themes alike.
It's a subtle approach to the genre, without tightening the screws. The genre, as a way of reaching the truth, but not as a purpose itself. It's the kind of feature that's no longer done, that don't requires special effects or make up; terror is at the story's core and gradually consumes everything. Genre is a crucial and essential element that gradually sneaks under the door, always to help the characters, not the other way round. The fantastic element helps narrate the ordinary in an extraordinary way, as something that can't be, but it in the end, is. "Marrowbone" moves along different areas. A balance between drama and different elements of genre that adjust to the point of view of four siblings, full of life, but also with anxiety. And all of it, impregnated with a unique romanticism that tinges each frame. It's only logical that the family dynamics between the four members constitutes the cornerstone that articulates all the film. In "Marrowbone", all those principles take place simultaneously. We know something is happening beyond that surface of apparently calm images, and of course, we're willing to unravel it's deepest nooks We want to cross the threshold and dig into the story.
"Marrowbone" is a thriller that combines many elements, thriller, horror, love story and fantasy. The film invites the viewer to participate in the game, to actively participate and compose a puzzle. It's a classic movie of suspense, it seems like a movie from another time, away from the patterns of the current genre cinema. But for this not seem like an exercise of nostalgia, the film tries to narrate it for it to have a complex and original structure. Sanchez uses the simile of a Russian doll to define the structure of the film. This is not a classic story in three acts. The framework is more complex. Each time a new mystery is revealed it's as if we open one of these matrioshkas, the film changes and reveals a new identity. What begins as a story becomes a family drama, then to become a ghost story, then a psychological thriller and so on until finally to the last of those dolls that encircles the heart of the story that which surrounds the emotion of this fable. But once you know all the secrets, you can watch the movie again and understand it in another way. The most poetic, or fabled, side of history takes on a new meaning once you understand everything that's happening and you can see it again, taking a different journey with it's characters.
It's cinema appeals to that apparently complete happiness, but incredibly fragile, in which you can get a glimpse of the cracks of growing up. It's a message directly to kids; telling them that once they cross that line, they're force to grow up, even though in essence, they're still children. In our cinema, the look is always connected to a kid's point of view. It happens in the films we've done together and it happens in "Marrowbone". The characters struggle between different worlds, they fight to remain in one, but they're destined to grow up and enter the other one. The phrase that the mother states, can also be understood like a hidden message for the audience. It's telling us that going through that threshold will take us directly to the film's mysteries, to a secret that promises to change us forever. A point of no return. A journey that has to do with the fantastical. It's a movie with a lot of heart, with a lot of spirit. The audience is going to find a very rich universe, full of nuances, with many turns and, above all, a lot of emotion.