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Far too earnest and filled with its own relevance (SPOILERS)
In a hockey team, working together and supporting one another is a key part of winning on the ice. Within a college team, one of the players struggles with knowledge of something that some of his team mates did something he did not step in to stop.
Destroyer is an important and topical film because of real life. The film deals with the idea of a young college student not sure where to turn or how to deal with the fact that he (probably) witnessed his friends raping an attractive young woman at a party. In terms of reality we have stories from Ottawa, Duke, Montana and others all alleging sexual assault at the hands of local sports stars allegations where a lot of the scandal then comes from how these events were handled internally in those organizations. So, Destroyer is able to bring all of that into an important story; the downside of this seeming to be that it knows that it is doing this, and it carries this weight very heavily and knowingly.
I mentioned that we do not know for sure that the student witnessed a rape, and this is because we do not see it. Instead what we see are hinted suggestions which lead us to that conclusion. For the rest of the film we get snippets of shots of the locker room, guys hanging out, the coach talking, all while our character seems a little out of sorts. The disconnected filming style is nicely done but it is also part of this; moving through parties without getting the atmosphere, not seeing any game action, all of these type of things keep us solemn and outside of the noise, in our own heads. At the same time a rather cold and ominous soundtrack plays throughout, telling us essentially that things are bad. All of this leads to a key scene at the end, which goes precisely how you knew it would; like the film itself, it is effective in how cold and realistic it is, but at the same time it is done knowing that.
I guess for some the sense of dread, realism and suggested atrocity will work well, and for me it did sort of work on a very basic level, but it was the root of these that I disliked. Kevan Funk seems to know the relevance and significance of the story he is telling, but he lets it weigh on the film too much, imbuing it with a heavy earnestness that doesn't let the place and people hit us, but forces us to know everything from the start. It is subdued and controlled and in some ways this is good, but mostly the film struggles because it is filled with knowledge of its import and relevance, making it all far too earnest and tied up in itself.
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