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Misrule (2017) Film Review

★★


Directed by: #MatthewGoddard

Written by: #MatthewGoddard


 

Undercover Security Services officer, Christian (Knight), must come to terms with his own identity whilst on the case to track down a Russian agent.


Misrule (2017) is the feature film debut of British director and writer Matthew Goddard and has recently dropped on Amazon Prime. This gritty, indie thriller makes a promising start, but ultimately struggles under a repetitive screenplay and questionable ideological messaging.

The film presents a distinct, engaging style of cinematography, favouring broody night time sequences to heighten the down to earth nature of its urban setting and spy narrative. There are some electrifying night drive segments with distorted angles and smooth camerawork making for aesthetically pleasing viewing. This is demonstrated best by the opening credits, with a colour grading of purples and blues establishing the stylish visuals for the rest of the film. Lighting is also used very effectively during suspenseful scenes, with the dangerous Russian agent, Romanov (Kris Simeonov), introduced in a dark underpass, where his face is not revealed until later. Although the low budget is often noticeable, there is a certain British charm to its production which cannot be emulated in Hollywood blockbuster thrillers.

Misrule (2017) film poster

The performances can vary, with Cooke established well as Joanna, Christian’s boss and mentor, a well versed and experienced individual who commands respect from her peers. Christian is partnered with Andrew (Blake) early on to help him find the Russian agent and both are good in their respective roles, but their characters are quite bland and could have been given more time to grow. They come across as pleasant guys who are good at their job and the blossoming of their romantic relationship is one of the key elements of the plot, however, emotional investment in their arcs may have been higher if they were developed more. Some of the line readings by Christian’s girlfriend and Joanna’s political correspond do sometimes sound very scripted and dull, which can be distracting.


On the plus side, Cayelan Mendoza’s score enhances many sequences in the movie and definitely adds a needed punch of momentum. The music has a synth quality to it, with pumped up tracks applied over Christian working out by running laps and swimming, as well as background beats which elevate ordinary conversation scenes to something gripping and engaging.


The downfall of the film’s screenplay comes with its oversaturated ideological messaging, which damages many scenes and causes them to appear too direct. Christian’s girlfriend, Samantha (Devora Wilde), exhibits ideas about toxic masculinity when she states “be a man” to her boyfriend struggling to have sexual intercourse with her and open up to her about his issues. There is also plenty of objectification of Christian and Andrew’s naked bodies and it is unclear whether Goddard is intentionally demonstrating the passionate feelings they have for each other or otherwise. The political allegories are the most prominent and quickly become tiring, with basically every scene between Joanna and her political correspondent alluding to politicians’ selfish interests. Simply put – there is too much repetition in the screenplay and not enough substance to justify it.


In the end, Misrule does have so much potential with a terrific score and immersive visual style, but ultimately falls short with a screenplay that is over reliant on its messages about modern day politics and homosexuality.

 

Misrule (2017) trailer:


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