Retaliation

Retaliation ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Directors: Ludwig Shammasian, Paul Shammasian. Cast: Orlando Bloom, Janet Montgomery, Charlie Creed-Miles 

This film has been waiting to be released for 3 years since it was first premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in 2017. At the time it even had a different title: “Romans”. With that in mind when I started watching my expectations were very low.

It’s certainly not a fun watch.

Malky (Orlando Bloom) has been a victim of child abuse when he was 12, by the hands of a local priest. When the priest comes back to his town after a 30 years absence, Malky’s memories resurface and so is his sense of rage and a desire for revenge.Bizarrely the first part of the film plays it like a mystery, giving us bits and pieces of puzzle of Malky’s backstory and only dropping few hints here and there. In fact the audience is already miles ahead of it and the “pieces of the puzzle” are in fact very easy to put together, so by the time the truth is finally revealed on why Malky is so moody and tormented, I was already slightly exhausted by one-note, somber and slow pace of the film. “Retaliation” seemed to lack the subtlety (both in terms of dialogue and the overdone religious symbolism) that a subject like this requires. However seriously it takes it, the film has actually very little new to add to the dozens of other films we’ve seen before.

However what’s really strong here and elevates the whole film is the surprisingly very good performance by Orlando Bloom who manages to convey pain, shame, rage, repressed anger, hurt and all those muted feelings which probably haunt hundreds of victims of child abuse, with perfection. I was never a great fan of Bloom (though I did warm up to him in Elizabethtown… but that was more than 15 years ago), but now I have to bow to him here and admit this is definitely his best performance, but actually a great performance by any standard.

What’s also surprising is the film’s ending, especially to Malky’s arc, which is rather unexpected, original and a lot more interesting than most of the film until then.

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