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This is the tag-line of much awaited new film from Pål Sletaune (behind
the great films "Naboer", "Amatørene" and "Budbringeren") is starring
Noomi Rapace and Kristoffer Joner. Seven years since "naboer" or in
English "next door", we get a film with similar ideas - a look into
disturbed or distorted minds.
Single mother Anna moves with her 8 year old son to a big flat with secret address outside Oslo to get away from her violent husband. Anna is scared stiff that they will be found, and is under heavy watch by a couple of child care workers. She get's the idea of buying a baby call so that her son doesn't have to sleep in her bed, only to find that the baby call picks up another troubled child somewhere in the flat. Anna is really on the edge, and maybe her imagination is playing her as well!?
This psychological thriller goes under your skin in the sympathy for Anna and the other troubled minds in this film. You want her to relax, but still understand how difficult it is when you trust no one.
Really great play by Rapace. She gets under your skin. The film is slow paced in a couple of periods, only to speed up at times, just as real life would be in such a situation. The film is not like you think it will be, so this is not your standard thriller. I still think I'd like another ending to this, though maybe not happy...
Well Sletaune can put another great film under his belt. Always worthwhile and interesting to get sucked into his stories. Well done!
Anna moves into hiding in a shabby flat in an apartment building
outside Oslo, with her young son Anders. She is a profoundly neurotic,
young woman: terrified that the boy's violent father will find them
again and attack her son.
Having been instructed by social services that Anders should sleep in his own room, she buys a baby-monitor from a local shop, in order that she can hear him sleep. However she starts picking up the sounds of violence from a nearby flat.
Unable to tell the difference between her psychosis induced world and reality, she seeks help from Helge, the shy sales assistant who sold her the monitor.
Just because she's paranoid, doesn't mean they're not out to get her.. but it does make it difficult to piece together the story, told mostly from her desperately disturbed perspective.
This film won the Grand Prize at the Gerardmer Film Festival in France: it is really worth a look.
With the huge success of Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and later on
Prometheus, Noomi Rapace has become a well established actress, and if
you are interested in seeing her in something closer to her home you
can check out this movie. Directed by Pål Sletaune (Next Door, You
Really Got Me) it has that strange and almost surreal atmosphere
(almost surreal, more like super surreal), so besides the Norwegian
vibe you have the surreal one too. Two phenomenal leads, Noomi Rapace
and Kristoffer Joner create a perfect setting for Babycall. While
Kristoffer didn't have much transitions to go to, Noomi here had the
opportunity to take us on a journey to a mind of a single mother and
she did it perfectly. We can understand different states of her mind,
without any words spoken and follow her mental state as the story
Anna and her son Anders have just moved into a new apartment after her husband tried to kill Anders. They now live in hiding and await the final court decision about the custody of Anders. Anna, afraid for her sons wellbeing is overprotective and is practically glued to Anders. This will be a problem when it's time for him to go back to school, and she nervously accepts this only after being chased away from school grounds. Still in fear that her husband will find them she goes to a store and buys a baby monitor. There she will meet Helge, a shy salesman troubled by his mothers illness and two of them will become friends. Trouble starts when Anna starts hearing something that sounds like an abuse and brutal beating over the baby monitor. After consulting with Helge she discovers that this is an interference from another baby monitor only 50 meters away. This is the same time when mind will start playing tricks on her, making it extremely difficult for her to get to the bottom of this...
Babycall is a strange movie, and while some might find it a bit slow, it is quite rewarding if you watch it 'till the end. It is a different take on the same thriller/horror subject so popular in Hollywood, but it definitely has its flaws. One of the main ones is the sudden turn in mood towards the end of the movie, and relatively confusing story with the heavy lifting left to the viewer.
Movie recommendations site: Rabbit-Reviews.com - Only movies worth watching
Wonder why nobody didn't compare this to the Japanese horror classic "Dark water".. The setting is kind of the same.. I loved Dark water, and I liked Babycall as well, even though it was a i bit more messy, and the plot felt a little too "constructed".. But its still good.. Noomi Rapage is great in the role of a young mother on the verge of mental breakdown.. As in many new age horror movies we have a mother moving into a suburban ghetto apartment, after having troubles with her ex husband abusing their son (just like in Dark water).. She hears some strange screams on her baby alarm, and the story starts to unfold.. The atmosphere and the puzzle is well made, but the plot to easy figure in big terms.. Screenplay and acting is good.. Story a bit too mainstream for my taste, but still thrilling at times for sure.. Noomi Rapage does a very good job, lots of tension.. The sceneries and the suspense works, but I missed a little originality to the story.. But bottom line, and enjoyable ride, that could have been better with a more simply story.. A little too many threads for it own good.. Still i give it 7 cause, its well done and I am a sucker for subttle slow semi horror movies...
Noomi Repace, who in my opinion is one of the most interesting actors
out there, brought me to this Swedish thriller. Let me just say before
anything, that this isn't one of those in-your face thrillers, or even
particularly fast paced and racy. It's one of those films that have the
really dense stories, that most people can't guess the end to.
'The Monitor' shows Noomi Repace playing Anna, a overprotective, paranoid mother, coming out of a traumatic experience with her husband. Her primal instinct is to protect her son, but there's something unusual going on around her, and the disturbed Anna can't quite wrap her finger around it.
The acting in this film is extremely natural, and its well written. The suspense is worth the final reveal, and is quite rewarding to those who patiently sit through the entire film. If you're a fan of story-oriented thrillers, this film is worth watching once.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In short, it's still about a single mother that arrives in a oppressive
block apartment with her young child and they have to face paranormal
Well, first of all, Norway isn't NYC. It's bare, remote, close to nature and the few habitants have a big space to live. So as it's a bit empty, the oppression goes up. I say it's Norway and not Sweden as the school looks decrepit. This emptiness, poverty is omnipresent in the movie as the family gets into their apartment without anything. It's a sort of vacation (because during this time, we leave all our comfort, dressing, equipment,...) except, for them, everyday is like this. Thus, the scenes inside the apartment have a special appeal because they are really cut of everything. In addition, the block is austere, dead calm and it's hard to tell the difference from a hospital or a prison. If a lot of French live like this (it's social urbanism), I have never experienced this and in a way, i feel really attracted by that.
So, all the background was there for the break of paranormal. It's difficult to explain the story (a bit like "Lost Highway"), as I understand that 2 facts meet: the ghost of a abused child and the vision of the mother. It's hard to tell "the" reality from her "reality". As the movie gives clues at the end, you can enjoy a second watching.
The cast is excellent: the shy, supportive friend is totally accurate as I behaved the same when i got invited by a single mum living in a block: arrival with flowers and a gift for the kid (for my constant reader, we went also to a movie after and that's why my list of "Best Movie of the Year after my birth" ranks for 2006, "Ice Age 2" with my comment: "best seance ever").
As for Noomi, she proves once again that she is the definitive best actress nowadays. Unlike a lot of her pals, she isn't superficial, just a look (or a name) as you can feel her mind and feelings. She is also hard to catch as she can be as fragile as resilient, as dumb as resourceful and as cold as warm.
An excellent movie to recommend which is the perfect proof that movies talent can be found everywhere (and not only in America!) and that a good movie doesn't mean big money, big effects, big sequels,...
There have been some discussions about the movie (and certain elements
of it) and how some people look at them and what they see. Of course
there is also the "Stupid movie" category some do put it in. And I
don't blame those people, because apart from the fact, that we all have
different tastes, the movie itself does really challenge most viewers
with its interpretation of the story.
There are quite a lot of things that will not be answered by the movie. You will have to explain those things to yourself or leave it be. Whatever your choice, the movie will not tell you you're wrong. It's actually pretty clever and one might expect a Damon Lindelof remake/script emerging anytime soon (if it doesn't already exist). Thinking about it (even though I don't like the way our main actress is portrayed), makes me like the movie even more ...
Babycall is a sparse psychological mystery / thriller by writer / director Pal Sletaune, centred on a convincing and naturalistic performance by Noomi Rapace, with excellent support from Kristopher Joner as her character's awkward admirer and Vetle Qvenild Werring as her son Anders. As a claustrophobic mood piece, it is effective, and Rapace gives an accomplished performance, as should be expected by those who know her work. Events are bleak and the central character is troubled, and it is not a comfortable watch, but ultimately likely to be somewhat satisfying for fans of the genre, if perhaps only for the central performances, since horror is not a word that sits well in its description.
I saw this film as part of the Imagine film festival
(SF/fantasy/horror) Amsterdam 2012. The festival website labeled it as
"horror", but I rather concur with the mixed "horror/thriller" label we
see on IMDb. We cannot help feeling sympathy with the mother (Anna) and
her son (Anders), just having moved to a hiding place where her husband
resp. his father cannot find them. We are told this is because of prior
domestic violence towards the son. It is the main reason for buying and
installing a baby monitor in the son's bedroom. Since he is 11, he
would not need such supervision in normal circumstances.
Apart from that, we see what initially looks like a sub-plot, in the form of a flirtation with the salesman (Helge) in the home electronics shop where the baby monitor is bought. The relationship strengthens later on when Anna hears alarming sounds out of the newly installed device, and seeks his advice as it is not coming from Anders' room. Helge explains that the signal can be picked up from a similar device in the neighborhood. Given that Helge is the only one taking her story seriously, and Anna feels all alone with her situation, it can be no surprise that she asks for his help. And Helge, also feeling alone, is very eager to offer some assistance.
Anna stumbles on a nearby lake, where she observes disturbing things happening on the opposite side. What she sees, obviously reminds her of her own reasons to run away from her husband. After rushing through the woods to find the place where it happened, there are no visible traces of something out of the ordinary. On later occasions Anna completely fails to find the lake again, as if it never existed in the first place. We are as confused as Anna is, since several landmarks we saw before along the path to the lake, are still on their original spot and look undisturbed.
All in all, though a few scenes could be improved by shortening some parts, I saw an entertaining mix of what was real and what only existed in Anna's mind. After a while we think we are sure what's real and what's not, given what is presented to us by the scenario writers. Acting is very good, so we are easily convinced by what we see.
However, one of the final scenes shows aforementioned lake again, after we saw with our own eyes that Anna could not find it anymore. It unexpectedly confronts us with a completely different view on the matter (no details, to prevent spoilers). In hindsight, I could remember no pointers that we may have been misled by what we had seen on screen. In other words, this was really a surprise for me, but of course, I may have missed some clues. Yet I think this should not happen in a "thriller" type of film. Some cleverly planted clues with hints that there might be more to it than what we saw, certainly would have improved our viewer experience.
This disturbing drama-thriller is almost like a sequel to "Daisy
Diamond", the Danish shocker from 2007. They both have Noomi Rapace in
the leading role and she carries most of the film. She again plays an
unstable single mother, but this time of a grown boy, not a baby girl.
And the setting is kinda the same, the desolate and tall block
apartment complex and the empty lane which she is constantly shown
walking. They are meant to symbolize her own loneliness and alienation.
And this is a hint to what ultimately is revealed as a great surprise
in the end.
This is a typical Scandinavian/North European picture which focuses on the plight of single mothers who have been victims of their husbands' rage and physical abuse. Anna (Rapace) moves in to a new place, the big apartment block, after she and her little son have been victimized by her husband. She feels alone and a little afraid in their apartment. She at first makes her son sleep in the same bed as her, but as he soon gets tired of it, she buys a baby call device and puts it next to his bed so she can sleep assured nothing will happen to him without her hearing it. One night she hears loud screams that sound like they are coming from a boy. She rushes to his son's room but founds him sound asleep and nobody is there. She then goes to the trade center nearby where she got the device and talks with the salesman about it. He tells her that her own baby call must have picked up the signal from another baby call that is somewhere near her. This only makes her more anxious to find out whose baby call that may be and which child that makes such hair-raising noise in the middle of night. In the meantime, the salesman (played by Kristofer Joner), a single man who is just as lonely as she, develops an affection for her and tries to get closer to her. But it gets even worse for Anna as she has problems sleeping and finds herself waking up at the oddest places and starts to hallucinate of a place which doesn't exist.
The acting is very good by the two main actors, Rapace and Joner, who are both very believable and effective in their roles. Joner looks his part and Rapace looks her part. There is very little satisfaction to find in this film except for the suspense and dramatic performances. And the way it ends doesn't do much to amend that. In other words, it is a very dark, haunting and bleak picture which is meant to capture life at its cruelest. Almost the whole movie is like one big constant nightmare and there are a few elements of Polanski's apartment trilogy there obviously. The mother-child vs evil father or evil male entity which persecutes them is a familiar motif in such films. And as such the movie doesn't really break any new ground. It is just a passable dark drama, something along the lines of Dark Water, but there is nothing supernatural about it. I give it a 6. 6+
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