"The Abattoir" is a puzzle that presents itself in dark fragments which, if you're paying attention, tell a powerful story of conflict. It reminded me of a J.D. Salinger story ("Perfect Day for Bananafish" or any of his "Nine Stories"), focusing on hidden madness & suppressed trauma often resulting from messed-up family situations and/or war. Within the space of 27 minutes we get themes of lost innocence, moral hypocrisy, religious zealotry, tyrannical parenting, war, abortion, racism, and basically all the conflicts of the human condition rolled up into a tight bundle. It's all done with an air of quiet suspense and mystery that doesn't let up until the last second.
Absolutely loved the ending... whereby the director uses 1 sound to tell 1000 words. I won't say any more except that the ending of "The Abattoir" ranks up there with the greatest wordless endings like in "Picture of Dorian Gray" (where we see a painting) or the Japanese film "Sway" (where we see a man's expression) and that's enough to produce a stunning climax and resolution.
There's a lot of symbolism in this film. Some are obvious like crosses & flags, but others are more subtle like the recurring images of balloons, etc. Also the the director makes good use of the color palettes, changing the tint ever so slightly to achieve an effect. I was not surprised to find that the director T.J. Volgare also worked with Terrence Mallick on " The Tree of Life".
The acting is powerful without being melodramatic. Although I didn't recognize any of the actors, I thought casting was perfect, and each person played and looked the role perfectly.
A final word about lambs... Even though the film is called "The Abattoir" (slaughterhouse) and lambs get killed, it's all handled off-screen and there's no actual footage of slaughters to make you lose your lunch (unlike certain Bergman & Tarkovsky films). The fact that it's implied in your mind makes it even more chilling and powerful, in my opinion. And I'm sure the lambs appreciate it, too. But really, from an artistic standpoint I really enjoyed the subtlety of this film and its ability to portray violent events without sinking to showing buckets of blood.
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