Wednesday, 6 April 2016

REVIEW - THE CLUB (PABLO LARRAIN)


There's little pleasure to be had in watching a film that knows it's so much cleverer than you. There's even less pleasure in watching a film that thinks it's cleverer than you. Either way, there's not intended to be much pleasure at all in watching The Club, a film which I could neither work out was the former nor the latter - there's incisiveness and intelligence aplenty here, yet they're shrouded in a needlessly aimless narrative, and plenty of suspicious stylistic obfuscation. Pablo Larrain's actual intentions are plain from the outset - to expose the essential hypocrisy and cruelty at the core of the catholic church, though also at the core of Chilean politics - and his unpacking of these dense troves of psychological substance reveals the extent of that density both in exploring it and in admitting that such an exploration could only ever be futile. For The Club to finish unpacking these topics, it'd need to last a lifetime. The dialogue is direct and frank, and structured far better than the film as a whole, which is bent on crafting symbolic statements that never feel wholly inappropriate, nor wholly thought through. The implication is that the seemingly arbitrary plot progression, combined with the enigmatic presentation of many plot points, will suggest the breadth of The Club's purview, and the depth of its insight; in truth, these elements feel as though created to engender such a suggestion, in lieu of actually creating a real depth of insight. There goes Pablo Larrain, trying to hoodwink the audience into believing him to be so much cleverer than all of us - indeed, he quite possibly is, but he doesn't prove it here.