A Matter of Causality - film review

★★★

Written and Directed by #AnnarieBoor

Starring #JulietteBoor, #IsabelNesti, #BrianJamesTwiddy

Film Review by Amber Jackson

Sparking mystery and intrigue, Annarie Boor’s film A Matter of Causality is a fresh take on psychological and thriller film. It situates a group of postgraduate clinical psychology students chaired by Professor Lionel Addington (Brian James Twiddy), who aid him in pursuing the case of teenager Lai (Juliette Boor). Lai has unusual mental abilitie and protagonist Madison (Isabel Nesti) is at the forefront of the action after discovering that she and Lai have a psychic connection. Once several unexplained deaths occur close to home, searching for the cause becomes paramount and suspicion turns to the isolated teenager.

Starting slow, the characters are not very well-established at the start of the film which makes it challenging to follow their relationships with each other. Some of the characterisations were awkward and this slowed the pace of the film down at times. However, the plot itself becomes very intriguing as the film progresses and quickly redeems itself. The thriller focuses on Lai and her troubled mental health, which is explored by the budding psychologists. It becomes clear that Lai’s abilities extend to predicting the future through extreme empathy with others, which causes very effective character conflict for Madison and her counterparts. The audience can become fully engaged in what Lai will predict next, questioning why she wants to connect with Madison specifically.

Annarie Boor generating a script surrounding causality is certainly interesting to consider within the context of film. Specifically, the importance of gaze. Eerie silent observational footage of Lai staring is woven into the framework of the story, creating a fantastic parallel for the viewer. We are watching her and she is watching us.

Boor is able to emphasise this within her direction too, as the obtrusive body language of key characters appears violating to Lai and later to Madison and the Professor. The effective use of distant surveillance shots contrasting with close-up invading camerawork creates a tone of vulnerability for the characters as though they are always being watched by each other and the audience.

Sound was an uncertain element of the film, but again as the plot thickens it suddenly makes sense. The score cuts over the quieter dialogue at first and the surroundings seem muffled, but then it becomes apparent that the at-times inaudible dialogue is intentional. Protagonist Madison starts to become haunted by chilling voice overs of Lai who is psychically connecting with her. Suspenseful music begins to add to the chilling atmosphere too, making the dull and unassuming lecture room feel fearful to be in.

Once Lai is introduced in-person rather than through a video screen, the audience is able to get a better sense of Lai’s character and Juliette Boor’s acting skills. Boor’s characterization of Lai is explosive and ultimately changes the course of the film to become a very well-thought-out and unpredictable thriller. Boor is able to combine Lai’s clever and calculating nature with chilling whispered voice overs to create a cocktail of anxiety and suspense. The clear bond between Lai and Madison is exaggerated in the latter half of the film and both Boor and Nesti excel in their body language and non-verbal communication to create an ending that is genuinely alarming and mysterious. The confusion felt by the viewer at the end is effective and the film could not have ended any better.

This was ultimately a surprising watch and definitely worth recommending for any film fanatics interested in psychological debate in the thriller genre. Annarie Boor has created a script where the characters are continuously forced to call into question their beliefs and ethical understandings – the master qualities of a good film.

Watch the trailer here: https://m.imdb.com/video/vi3280256537?playlistId=tt9778060&ref_=m_tt_ov_vi

#AmberJackson