Hold the Dark (2018) Poster


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Read the book if you are confused.
michellelcalvert30 September 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I read the book a few months ago and then discovered the movie on Netflix. The movie does follow the book fairly well, but the book just seems to explain things better and provide better background details so you don't feel so confused. I realized the ending of the movie skipped over a lot of details.

Blond woman who was in the hut helping Core recover from the arrow injury was the mom of the Medora and Vernon, who are twins and in an incestuous relationship. In the end, the twins wander off into the wilderness to live in secret and have another child to start over with. The first son's death is eventually simply accepted and the two move on. The mom provides them supplies. Throughout the movie there are implications about Medora messing with evil and such, and it's primarily because of her relationship with her brother and their child. She was instructed to kill her own child (I think by the wolf killer guy if I remember correctly), and she did. The wolf masks were more like curses in the book. The old lady who was killed was more of the local witch doctor or medicine woman who knew about the incest.

Very odd book, but the book definitely contains a better ambiance for understanding things.
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Explanation Post
aguti-0932519 April 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Smart, well edited, and it held my attention. I read some previous reviews, mostly negative, some positive. Nevertheless, I am here to explain the points and subplots of this movie.

1) Husband and wife are indeed brother and sister. Same hair, Norwegian, same eyes, a small part actor pointed that out 3/4 of the movie in. Picture of two young blond children 2/3 of the movie in. Wife tells main character traveler, she doesn't remember a time not knowing her husband, 10 mins into the movie.

2) Reason mother killed her own child. Main character traveler says " sometimes wolves kill the young pups in order to protect the pack." Mother killed the child because child was a murderer at that age. 1/2 through the movie a scene of father and son shown after a hunted kill. Father asks son " how did that feel" son replies " it felt great. " Son asks father " is it okay to kill?" Father replies " only to protect something you love. " Hidden meaning, within the first 5 mins mother writes a letter to traveler stating "there have been TWO OTHER children taken by wolves." Her son killed the other children.

3) Traveler was saved by people not wolves at the end. There are some quick edits at the last 4-5 mins of the movie where it shows a group of women tending to his wound. 20 mins into the movie traveler comes across pack of wolves who do not attack when he falls within striking distance. The women in the hut tending to his wounds are the wolves spiritually. Wolves find him turn into people help him and turn back into wolves. White woman at the end who take travelers boots, that were the husbands to begin with, was the mother of the wife and husband who are brother and sister. Take a second, this one is tough to follow, and understand, but it's true!

Please add whether this is helpful or not. Thanks for reading if you read the whole thing. :)
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Boring and baffling
gbortoli28 September 2018
Let me start by saying that this movie is not completely garbage. It has something to it that keeps you going. For some reason, despite an unintelligible plot and amazingly slow pace, you still find yourself watching the movie waiting for it to redeem itself. It doesn't. The more time you invest in this adventure, the more painful it becomes to admit that this movie is beyond redemption, that nothing normal is going to happen and that you wasted two hours of your life.
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Read the book after. Then watch again. Ending explained.
jribeiro73923 November 2018
Warning: Spoilers
After watching Hold The Dark I felt compelled to read the novel by William Giraldi. After my first time watching the movie I was really left with many questions that needed answering. The movie was well shot and every scene seemed to keep me wondering how the movie would come to an end. After reading the novel I then understood the movie in its entirety. Here is the movie explained.

The Slones are twins! Throughout the movie there is always mention of how similar they look or how they have shared a long past. Medora in the beginning of the movie when answering Core about how long she knew him says "I can not remember a memory without him in it." When Vernon is ruffling through clues in the cardboard box as to where Medora might be there is a picture of a little boy and girl sitting on a dock. A picture of him and her, brother and sister. While in the motel where Vernon sleeps in the same room where Medora did, the receptionist mentions how they look similar and have a "Scandinavian" look. The man who sold wolfs oil to Vernon's dad also mentions how they have similar eyes and a similar nose. Them being twins is revealed in the book where the mother of Medora and Vernon helps Core at the end. When Core sees her face he then realized that she was the mother and that they were twins. Although they do show this in the movie it is not explained that she is the mother and that they are twins.

The use of the mask by both Vernon and Medora releases the "wolf" inside of them. Whenever there is a scene where the mask is worn, it ends up violent or deranged. In the book an elder gives the mask to Medora while she is pregnant with Bailey. She says that Medora must kill the baby for it will be sick. Despite Medora and Vernon's reluctance to listen to the elder, (Vernon actually kills her) Medora keeps the mask.

There is so much explained in the book then in the movie. The silent but ever bonding relationship between Vernon and Cheeon. The history of Medora and Vernon's father (whom actually commit suicide). How infanticide has been a regular occurrence in the past among primates and mammals.

Of course there is also much that is not explained and left to the viewer to decide.

Overall I feel the movie was consistent with the themes and characters protracted in the novel. The film like the novel, was captivating and left you wanting more. I don't feel the low reviews that this film has received in IMDB by some viewers is just. I think if they were to investigate a little further in order to find the meaning behind things then it would have had a better review.
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Please re-edit this movie.
Technomage00130 September 2018
All the parts are there, good acting, engaging characters, great nature scenes, and a great story that ended up being a little too cryptic. The movie held my attention because I didn't want to miss anything that would confirm what I thought the film would be about. But it never did. My suspicions is that the answers were left on the cutting room floor when the film was edited.

This feels like one of those movies that you have to read the book first to understand what's going on or at least have someone who has read the book sitting next to you to explain what was going on and what all those little details meant.
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Beautifully Captivating
ClaviculaNox1 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
There are so much negative reviews but it's really beautiful. Most of the reviews written is because they didn't understand the plot of the movie or what it represents. It's a deeply dark movie on so many levels. It's a story inside a story, the mother killed her son because she was living in the dark. As her husband is her brother. Incist. And there are many implications and hints across the movie that shows that "indirectly." The scene when he was looking for his wife in the hotel, the woman said "you both have the same eyes and same hair" The Indian hunter said "your father said you are unnatural." The pictures inside the drawe, the second picture shows a bow and a girl sitting as a family by lake. The wolf mask, they both had it.

Medora talks early on about the "Dark" that comes at night, a suffocating absence of light that represents the unknown and seems to alter those around them. Simply put, the Dark is a name given to the line between humanity and ferality; in the movie, we see in this desolate landscape the humanity of wolves and the wolves in humanity. In the movie, this unspoken incestuous relationship and its thrust for survival is the plot key motivator. Indeed, it's why Medora killed their son - the act clearly parallels the wolves eating their own pup to keep the pack alive, with her trying to keep it going ahead of her husband's return - and explains Vern's conflicted hunt, outwardly powered by revenge but internally the part of something much more primal (as Russell says very early on, revenge is not nature's way).

I believe all the negative reviews is because they didn't understand the movie's plot in the first place. But really, this a beautifully dark movie on so many levels and I loved it.
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Bleak doesn't equate to boring
michelleecooney2 October 2018
This was a fantastic film. The acting was solid, stoic, and appropriate for the subject matter. The cinematography was absolutely stunning; leave it to Saulnier to remind us just how red blood really is against the snow.

The story itself was bleak. Bleak doesn't mean boring. On the contrary, this film is a commentary on the darkness in human nature.

Yes the ending is ambiguous, yes it is a slow burn, and yes the subject matter is bleak. I believe these three things only constitute a bad film in the eyes of someone whose idea of perfect cinema is superhero movies.

I cannot state this loudly enough: unfortunately, IMDb reviews no longer reflect the quality of a film. I understand this film is not for everyone; however, the amount of reviews stating "this didn't make sense" is abysmal.
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'Hold the Dark' holds all the right pieces, but drifts away into incoherent ambiguity
Condemned-Soul29 September 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Anyone who caught a glimpse of the trailer would be certain a genre-meshing treat was on the cards, but 'Hold the Dark' fails to fulfil on that eerie expectation by the time the anti-climactic ending happens.

The film stars Jeffrey Wright as a retired naturalist and wolf expert lured into an intriguing mystery about the disappearance of a young boy - supposedly taken by wolves. The setting imbues a sense of foreboding, an aesthetic the story deserves, at least initially. But the further into the narrative you go, the more everything blurs. The mystery goes from dark adventure to crime thriller with undertones of supernatural/occult themes that not only don't gel with the outset, but also don't unravel into anything that makes sense. You can tell that 'Hold the Dark' has the right recipe, but the ingredients are all under-cooked, and the result is never as tasty as the trailers promise.

The landscapes and visuals are undeniably the film's greatest strength, but there's only so long that the beautifully rendered, ice-cold bleak winter setting can keep you engaged before you need some narrative sustenance to satisfy curiosity. More an art film than an adventure, 'Hold the Dark' has a couple of lively sequences courtesy of bursts of violence that punctuate the monotonous pace, but because the plot isn't as tantalising as it should be, just like the setting, it feels rather empty before proceedings slow down again. The final impression is something you realise sustained your curiosity, attempted to test intellect, but failed to conclude events properly; ultimately leaving you baffled and disappointed.

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Two hours of my life that I will never get back
sharonbell-9436729 September 2018
Beautiful cinematography, no plot, no resolution. Half way through I was hoping everyone would shoot each other and put me out of my misery.
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Yet another stinker from Netflix
axekicker7829 September 2018
Warning: Spoilers
The mood looks promising. They you start watching it and it's all downhill from there. Starts with the cryptic, monotone voice over, which is now a cliche to tell you,"Ohh, this is so mysterious and spooky." Dialogue is terrible, a very bad imitation in terms of pacing of the movie Drive, which was excellent. And it just goes from bad to worse. Skarsgaard is useless. I'm still not convinced this guy belongs in anything but that silly show he was in about vampires. He's one note in everything he does. And you couldn't care less about him or anyone else in this film. And as 90% of all the other reviews state, the plot is unintelligible, slow, and pretentious. Skarsgaard goes around killing people. The end. It keeps you watching because you keep thinking, "OK, at some point, someone is going to tell me what the hell is going on in this plot. It never happens. I swear, it's like being on a bus trip to Idaho and thinking, at some point, we're going to get there so I can get off this crappy bus." But you never arrive. How does a script like this get greenlighted? Who reads something like this and says, "My God, people need to see this! Let's dedicate all this time and manpower to make this non-story?" I'm dumfounded.
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Wolves, snow, lots of suspenseful music and that's about it
davidgosling-5482428 September 2018
To say this movie was a disappointment would be an understatement as vast as the Alaskan wilderness it was filmed in.

What is most frustrating is that you are drawn into waiting for some kind of twist or at least some action to bring your attention back, but nothing actually happens. After watching the film it's still unclear what the plot is, and after looking at some reviews I'm relieved I'm not the only one.

Anybody who's scored this over a 5 either appreciates the cinematic values of the movie, or spends their spare time watching paint dry.
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Holds your patience in the Dark
GODZILLA_Alpha_Predator19 September 2018
The basic premise of Jeremy Saulnier's adaptation of Hold the Dark takes place in Alaska where wolf expert Russell Core has arrived to investigate the disappearance of a child claimed by his mother to have been taken from the very animal Core studies. From there Core discovers that the wolves may be the least of his concern.

The film is interesting through its dark atmospheric tone and gorgeous yet haunting cinematography of the wild landscape. As with any other of his, the violence is very sudden and brutal. It sneaks up behind you and leaves you in gasp from the site of it. While the body count is way higher and on a much bigger canvas, it lacks the self-contained momentum of Green Room and Blue Ruin. The pacing felt very inconsistent at times especially as it seems it never quiet matches the shocking shootout scene that happens in the middle act. Both Jeffrey Wright and Alexander Skarsgard get to show great character work in their performances. Wright shows Core as a man whom is sympathetic towards wolves as he sees their behaviour isn't intentionally evil but is disturbed and often times terrified of what horrifying acts human beings themselves do throughout the story. And Skarsgard as the missing boy's veteran father Vernon brings an intensity and intimidating presence while still conveying there is still a little bit of humanity left in him to understand his motivations. While the characters are certainly compelling, the vaguely defined supernatural element makes the story's direction feel too plot heavy and less compelling. The story is very much an exploration of how human behaviour can be more vicious then nature itself. While the conclusion makes sense thematically, it can feel anti-climatic depending on how much you are invested in the themes.

Hold the Dark I wouldn't call a disappointment but does not live up to the quality of his past films. It still has some really good scenes that are still worth watching.
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What the......
benedict-cynthia30 September 2018
I don't know what I just watched. Maybe there's something deep or artistic but I didn't get it. I'm stunned at how bad it was. I gave it three stars because I liked the wolves.
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An atmospheric success that is far from perfect
t-viktor21228 September 2018
I can't clearly determine what "Hold the dark" is: a sophisticated film that seems mindless or a mindless thriller that seems sophisticated. Nonetheless, it's an enjoyable view.

Hold the dark is complex: partly a thriller, partly a mystery film, partly a crime film. It reminds me of many films and tv shows: Prisoners, No Country for Old Men, The Grey, Twin Peaks and True Detective.

Visually, Hold the dark is one of those films that I wish I could see on a big screen rather than online. It's photography and alaskan scenery are often gorgeous. Generally, from a technical point of view, including in terms of acting, it is outstanding.

It is an atmospheric success: the eerie, dark theme of the film is almost palpable. There isn't any unnecessary dialogue and silence is overall well handled. It is a film filled with rural mysticism, a very peculiar subject, which often leads to such utterly irrational events that sometimes seem blatantly stupid. This often made me question whether it's because of the director's style (I haven't seen other movies from Saulnier), because I missed something, because of the mystic subtheme or because the plot is simply at times stupid.

I myself don't like the term 'poor writing' used in many reviews, but while watching "Hold the dark" the thought often popped to my mind. There are several scenes of violence, changes of heart, actions that character do that seem nonsensical. The worst part is that probably they were intented to be so 'mindless', but the film seemed to lack something that confirms this. This aspect is what provides the mixed feelings I'm trying to express.

I can't resolutely give a high rating to this movie. Although it is stylistically perfect, and it lends this permanent feeling that it's trying to tell something important, Hold the dark ultimately fails to deliver its message.
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frankw-1975028 September 2018
This film has no concept or plot. Waiting for an ahh moment in this film is like waiting for an answer to the existence of aliens.
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Never gets the message across
larsmeister128 September 2018
Terrrible movie that once again leads you down twists and turns, eventually getting nowhere. Bitterly disappointing, to think I compared it to The Grey is an insult to its predecessor. Maybe people like a movie that just ends without giving any reasoning or premise, or maybe the director tried too hard. I rarely rate movies but this time I felt compelled due to the fact this movie was such a let down. Slow, dull, there was a sense of dread but that was more from sheer boredom. Avoid.
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Waste of Time
dangerousdanish-0650929 September 2018
No clue, what the plot was. Ridiculous. A Couple of Psychopaths having a weird connection with Wolves.
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Give it an 8
4RalphDavidPrestwood2 October 2018
Movie is misunderstood... the flick does have a film noir type of feel. I believe the is meant to not answer all questions.
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Saulnier's trademark violence and craftsmanship make for an epic, atmospheric fusion of genres
HailPaimon_29 September 2018
Don't go in expecting Green Room. This film is more of a meditative, atmospheric, slow burn with occasional bursts of extreme intensity rather than a standard thriller.

Some of the plot elements, and how they are handled, will turn people off but the craftsmanship here is impossible to ignore. The performances are strong and the visuals are beautifully bleak. The violence is explosive and deeply disturbing. Fans of Saulnier, and fans of genre in general, will find a lot to appreciate here.

Those who want instant gratification or things wrapped up neatly will probably hate it, as the themes the film deals with, along with how it presents them, strongly warrants a second watch as well as a good amount of reflection. Some of the ambiguity could have been handled with a bit more coherence, but the script is far from poor. Macon Blair's screenplay is both interesting and thought-provoking for those with the patience to appreciate it.

Overall the film's story gets its message across, regarding the line between human and animal, and the feral tendencies we bury in ourselves. It could have used a bit of cleanup getting there, but it's still a compelling and harrowing journey that's expertly crafted, above all else.
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Jeremy Saulnier's Latest Is Also His Weakest
CinemaClown29 September 2018
Warning: Spoilers
After establishing himself as one of the most promising talents working in the film industry today with two back-to-back cinematic gems, Jeremy Saulnier hits a snag with his fourth feature film and delivers his first dud with Hold the Dark.

The story unfolds in a small village in the Alaskan wilderness and follows a writer who's summoned there by a young woman to hunt & kill the wolves that took her son, only to find himself in the middle of a vengeful rampage being carried out by the boy's father.

Directed by Jeremy Saulnier (best known for Blue Ruin & Green Room), Hold the Dark begins on a promising note, creating the required intrigue & mystery but it all fades away as the muddled plot goes a tad too awry. The viewers are given nothing to latch on to and the story wanders with no sense of direction.

Though the story teases with a feral angle, the mystery remains a mystery, leaving behind more questions than answers. The threads are left loose, not much material is provided to connect the dots, characters aren't fleshed enough to make us care, and whatever Saulnier was aiming for, he falls short by a considerable margin.

The only thing working in the film's favour is its dark atmosphere. Reeking of death & dread, the aura is that of an omen and it is well sustained from start to finish. The smart camerawork, desolate locations & grim score bring an uneasy feeling of their own into the mix. Yet it all amounts to nothing thanks to its convoluted structure.

Its slow-burn narrative makes its 125 minutes runtime feel twice as long. There are many scenes that don't add up and it's all emotionally distant. There is a shootout segment that will stand out for most but even that ends up overstaying its welcome. As for the ending, it's bound to leave many viewers baffled, frustrated & unsatisfied.

The violence the film has in store is brutal & unflinching just like the director's past features yet they don't leave much of an impact. Performances range from good to garbage and in a cast starring Jeffrey Wright, Alexander Skarsgård & Riley Keough, it's James Badge Dale who shines. Macon Blair also has a cameo and it's awful.

On an overall scale, Hold the Dark is a slow, meandering, overlong, blank & boring mess, and is undeniably Jeremy Saulnier's weakest film to date. A shoddily scripted & poorly executed thriller that brings the director's creative momentum to a sudden halt, Hold the Dark is an unexpected misfire that may require another viewing for a final verdict but for now, it is an absolute disappointment.
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The film is more concerned with tone, atmosphere and theme than it is with character or plot.
Random329 September 2018
I loved Green Room, but this was a very different movie. I don't really know what to make of it, because it is a film that doesn't have much of a plot, has characters that rarely speak, and is quite a slow burn. This is the kind of film that if you half-watch whilst doing something else, you would almost certainly hate it.

So the setup for the film doesn't matter really because within the first 20 minutes it has gone off those rails, but the setup is that a woman's child has been taken by wolves (the third child in the town to have gone missing) and so she writes a letter to a wildlife expert and author to come to Alaska and hunt down the wolves that did it. The film takes so many twists and turns very suddenly and abruptly that by the time it ends you kinda forget that this is how it started. The film is more concerned with tone, atmosphere and theme than it is with character or plot.

As expected the film is pretty damn violent. Not quite Green Room-level, but when it happens you feel it. It also happens very abruptly and suddenly, with little to no hint that anything is about to happen.

Overall the film reminded me of so many other films, but stands on its own as something unlike any of them. It had elements of Wind River, The VVitch, The Grey and Prisoners, but it really is a unique movie. It is somewhere between a 6/10 and a 7/10 for me but it is interesting and unique enough for me to say 7/10 for now. Definitely need to rewatch it.
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Worth the watch if you like quiet psychological horror.
the_caveat5 November 2018
It's a quiet, plodding psychological drama that doesn't explain everything to the viewer.

Jeffrey Wright can hold tension and emotional weight, and Jeremy Saulnier gives him the screen time to do it. He brings a stoic gravity to every role he plays, and it really serves him in this role as the survivor protagonist.

I was skeptical of Riley Keough, but she really brought it for this role. She's weird, wracked with complicated emotions, and fully immersed in her role.

Alexander Skarsgård plays a force of nature that is given almost no dialogue but an incredible amount of physical drama. He plays this role stoic, imposing and dangerous and it's impressive.

The film itself is full of incredible craft as well. Great cinematography. Very complex scene building. All of which is a testament to the talent of Saulnier and the production crew he put together for this piece.

Unless you're watching for it, the worst horror in the story isn't obvious, and I think that context is what some of these folks who didn't like the film missed.

The drama and story feels torn out of a western gothic movie like the Searchers or No Country for Old Men. If you like that kind of pacing and theme, this is for you.
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Beautifully Bleak and Disturbing
darrenmcneil-012786 October 2018
This a good movie. Not just because it was filmed where I live :) You need to feel your way through it. A.S. is convincingly robotic as the injured returning war vet bent on making things right in his stark and twisted mind - taking everything out on everybody. But you get the feeling that he was like that before he even left for the war. I really liked Jeffrey Wright in this - haven't seen too much of him elsewhere. Deliberate and almost witnessing the events as if he was the one watching the movie. The setting and locales contribute superbly to the feeling of physical loneliness and emotional desolation. If you're in the mood for a disturbing film and sometimes we all are, this is a good one to watch with a pot of something hot, a bowl of popcorn and a blanket.
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2/10 stars for 2/10 parts of the story you should have given us
laserburn29 September 2018
Such a shame. You can see that a movie is technically very well made, camera is top notch, acting is excellent, pacing is slow, but steady. It has a lot of things going for it.

But the movie feels like someone watched 'No Country for Old Men' and thought "This, but instead of giving the audience a story with no meaningful resolution, let's not give them a meaningful story at all". I mean, it's ok to leave out story parts and let the audience fill in the blanks, but you ripped out practically the entire story to the point that the movie no longer has a plot.

I can't recommend this movie to anyone, except as an exercise in frustration. I've let Coen brothers get away with this in 'No Country for Old Men', but Jeremy Saulnier, you didn't earn that right yet.
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Different TV experience
justice_for_allro1 October 2018
I've seen Saulnier's previous work (Green Room and Blue Ruin) and liked both movies although there were no clear messages sent throughout them. Hold the dark is another kind of thriller, set in Alaska and it projects a supernatural feel to it even from the beginning.

What kept me glued to the screen was the setting, the score and the potential story that wasn't actually developed in a linear way. Its pace was very polarized as well, fast paced at times, especially during the "action" scenes and slow in the development of the main story/mystery involving the child's disappearance.

The acting was very good and the script, although lacking a proper closure, had some good moments. I remember some very nice lines and conversations throughout the films, lines that make you think about darkness, loneliness, relationships (there's a kind of twist about the couple as well) and kindred spirits.

Cinematography wise, the movie has some very nice shot scenes and good composition especially for a "tv movie". As for the editing and the film being approximately 2 hours long, yeah, I think a better editing could have been made but on the other hand I enjoyed the parts that weren't necessarily connected to the plot itself.

There are some possible explanations about the ending, in any case I think it's of those movies where you really don't need everything to be explained/explainable to like it.
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