To Catch a Killer, the review of the film with Shailene Woodley
The new film by the Argentine has found a negligible distribution here in New York Damian Szifronthe one that a few years ago had surprised the international public with the surreal and corrosive Wild Tale. Only one show a day at a multiplex near Times Square. After going to see it it wasn’t at all difficult to understand why To Catch a Killer has gotten so little publicity and consideration from the American film industry. Not only is it a thriller about hunting a “mass shooter”, unfortunately, today more relevant than ever in the United States; in developing the plot the script written by Szifron himself together with Jonathan Wakeham it also fully illustrates the idea that a deviant mind can also be the result of an increasingly alienating society.
Strongly desired by the protagonist and producer Shailene Woodleythe film sees the young and troubled policewoman Eleanor Falco being in the middle of a massacre carried out by an assassin stationed with his sniper rifle in a Baltimore apartment building. The FBI detective is put in charge of the investigation and the manhunt Geoffrey Lammark (Ben Mendelsohn), who chooses to bring Eleanor into the team despite his obvious problems. Together the couple begins an investigation that will lead them to test their physical but above all psychological limits.
To Catch a Killer it is a work with social commentary behind the genre packaging
The narrative system and the idea of staging of To Catch a Killer fully respond to the stylistic features of genre cinema. The representation of the snowy and melancholy metropolis refers in its own internal aesthetic coherence to other settings much appreciated by mainstream cinema enthusiasts. We have in fact thought of the rainy and anonymous streets of Se7en Of David Fincherand together with the elegant but also scary avenues de The dark Knight Of Christopher Nolan. But let it be clear right from the start, Szifron’s is absolutely not a derivative feature film: he simply knows how to use the means that he has at his disposal to immerse the viewer in a filmic universe that knows how to powerfully restore the emotional strength of the story and characters.
And here the precise will to introduce a social commentary behind the genre packaging comes into play: in following the tracks that will have to lead to the capture of the murderer, the two protagonists find themselves investigating the hidden folds of a system that manufactures monsters, in every social stratum he crosses. Lammark and Falco in a surprisingly organized stage-by-step journey come face to face with a most disconcerting truth: the man they are looking for does not represent a “deviation” but rather a gangrenous cell inside a sick organism.
A violent work, a mirror of our present
Without wanting to tell too much to avoid unnecessary spoilers, we can still say that To Catch a Killer he takes great risks both aesthetically and in terms of content with enormous courage: the violence staged by Szifron is brutal, far from the spectacularization of the genre. The progress of the investigation is often slowed down by figures who metaphorically represent how rotten the American system is: agents who play politics much more than they care about catching the guilty; conservative extremism that takes advantage of the tragedy to spread terror; a clear and radical discourse on the institution of the self-made man and his right to self-defense.
To Catch a Killer he proposes all of this and at the same time reflects extremely strongly on what he is staging. The result is as exciting in terms of spectacular enjoyment as it is painful when you start thinking about it. We’re not talking about a perfect film, far from it: some obviousness in the plot and some not entirely necessary backstory bring with them a certain amount of rhetoric. Defects that however only minimally affect the power of a nihilistic thriller, almost livid in its exposition. It doesn’t seem to have come at the right time, To Catch a Killer. And this probably makes it an even more fascinating and complex cinematographic object to metabolise. When genre cinema becomes the distorting (and deformed) mirror of our present, it is never easy to accept…