The River

The River ★★★★

Playing in the same pressure-cooker family wheelhouse as DOGTOOTH and MUSTANG, RIVER (as it's subtitled on the DCP I saw) augurs to be a clinical austere affair from its opening shot, where it quickly becomes clear camera movement is a bourgeoisie luxury and the production design is 50 shades of beige. But as we follow these five boys, their mostly absent and frequently abusive father and their quiet mother, it's clear that writer/director/DP/editor Emir Baigazin's got more up his sleeve on many fronts. From his lush lensing of the titular river to the comic introduction of modernity, Baigazin undercuts and shifts expectations as the reading of what feels like a parable constantly shifts and his withholdings become productive instead of frustrating. (It's key, for instance, as to the first time the far bank of the river is framed in a shot.) Halfway through, one might be tempted to chalk it up as a cautionary tale about the corrupting force of technology, but it becomes clear that they never were innocents. Not 100% sure it sticks the landing, but nonetheless I'm sufficiently sold on Baigazin to check out his prior work now.