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2021 Sundance Film Festival Review – The Blazing World

The Blazing World, 2021.

Co-written and directed by Carlson Younger.
Starring Udo Kier, Carlson Younger, Dermot Mulroney, Vinessa Shaw, John Karna, and Soko.



A long time after the unintended drowning of her twin sister, a self-destructive younger girl returns to her household house, discovering herself drawn to an alternate dimension the place her sister should be alive.


Multi-hyphenate writer-director-actress Carlson Younger extends her 2018 wanting the identical identify right into a function movie which, regardless of its clear potential as a grave fairytale, too usually looks like an embryonic mission just a few drafts away from completion.

On the age of six, younger Margaret (Younger) witnessed the drowning loss of life of her twin sister whereas her mother and father, Tom (Dermot Mulroney) and Alice (Vinessa Shaw), staged a violent argument. As an grownup, Margaret continues to be haunted by that grimly formative occasion, but can’t escape the sensation that her sister can nonetheless be rescued. This ultimately units Margaret on an existential odyssey right into a parallel dimension, the place confronting her demons presents the opportunity of bringing her departed sister again from the brink.

Although the enchantment of a morbid, indie-speckled riff on Lewis Carroll speaks for itself, The Blazing World extra usually resembles a grab-bag of superior metaphysically inclined fantasy movies. Too usually oddball for its personal sake, Younger’s script stifles its kernels of emotional reality within the course of, the bong-hitting stream-of-consciousness dialogue rapidly turning into tedious, if not outright grating.

The movie’s first half is extra strictly centered on Margaret returning to her household house and languishing in her mother and father’ aggressively unsettling dynamic, the extra fantastical journey arriving at roughly the mid-way level. Margaret is coaxed into her quest by Lained (Udo Kier), a sepulchral, ambiguous being who challenges her to a fetch quest, to retrieve a sequence of keys hidden throughout the unusual land in an effort to have an opportunity of liberating her sister.


What follows is an oddly programmatic sequence of encounters which, whereas undeniably crazy, don’t rouse a lot curiosity both dramatically or aesthetically. There’s a sort-of backyard selection creepiness to the entire tour, leaning again on stylistic style cliches from each horror and fantasy, made worse by a distracting bombardment of poorly realised visible results.

From a gap sequence which boasts garishly low-fi CGI fireflies and a VFX chook ramming itself right into a wall which wouldn’t look amiss in Birdemic, the digital parts typically stick out like a sore thumb amid the in any other case stately manufacturing parts. Issues get progressively worse when Margaret units off on her journey; CGI smoke seems to be like a copy-pasted After Results plug-in, and badly applied chroma key renders too lots of the backgrounds howlingly unconvincing.

In its worst moments, the over-reliance on CGI offers off the vibe of an upmarket YouTube brief, and serves as a potent reminder that first-time administrators are taking an enormous danger hedging their greatest on effects-heavy post-production.

It’s a disgrace, as common Richard Linklater DP Shane F. Kelly delivers some gorgeously picturesque particular person photographs – particularly throughout a mid-film detour into the desert – whereas milking the neon pinks, reds, greens, and blues for each eye-popping drop they’re price. The manufacturing designers additionally clearly did their jobs, although general there was evidently far too nice an expectation that CGI may carry a hefty load.


What prevents Younger’s movie from faltering fully, nonetheless, is the efforts of herself and her solid. Younger is a proficient actress who commits to the fabric as you’d count on any actor-filmmaker to, whereas Dermot Mulroney and Vinessa Shaw are entertainingly off-center as her mother and father. Each clearly relish the chance to play the cursed variations of Margaret’s mother and father she encounters on her quest, and Mulroney particularly is so gamely hammy as a nightmarish shade of her father that he single-handedly props up a superb chunk of the third act.

We couldn’t overlook Udo Kier both, an actor so effortlessly menacing he may make studying the telephone e-book appear creepy. The exact nature of his position could also be up for some measure of debate, however Kier’s piercing eyes had been mainly made for characters like this. Regardless of the uneven writing, he’s virtually licking his chops at each scrap of what-the-hell-was-that dialogue.

This actually isn’t sufficient of a failure to thoroughly write off Younger as a filmmaker, although between the unusually uninteresting execution, overwrought emotional through-line, and aforementioned visible results woes, she appears to have bitten off greater than she will chew.

The Blazing World needs to be Alice in Wonderland on ayahuasca, but its stronger parts – particularly appearing and cinematography – are routinely hamstrung by pedestrian storytelling and wonky visible results.

Flickering Fable Score – Movie: ★ ★ / Film: ★ ★

Shaun Munro – Comply with me on Twitter for extra movie rambling.

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