The Movie Waffler New Release Review (VOD) - BLOODY MARIE | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review (VOD) - BLOODY MARIE

bloody marie review
An alcoholic graphic novelist becomes endangered after witnessing an altercation between a prostitute and her pimp.

Review by Sue Finn

Directed by: Lennert Hillege, Guido van Driel

Starring: Susanne Wolff, Dragos Bucur, Alexia Lestiboudois, Teun Luijkx, Jan Bijvoet

bloody marie poster

When we first meet graphic novelist Marie, she’s dancing alone in a bar, almost trance-like, until a middle-aged fanboy approaches to gush over her work and perhaps flirt with her a little. She’s flattered but clearly not interested romantically; her night will continue without him. After discussing alpha males and proving your masculinity with Matt the barman, her bravado seems to slip and her forced smile cannot hide that she’s obviously drunk and alone.

After a night chasing, stealing or begging for the next drink, she ends her night shoeless with only her loyal dog Lieze by her side as she crawls into her flat to sleep off the night's drunken efforts.

This is life for Marie, still new to her home of Amsterdam’s red light district, still getting to know her neighbours, struggling to get by.

bloody marie review

It transpires that her mother recently died and she is finding it difficult to move past this tragedy. She blames herself for not paying enough attention when her mother needed her; for being drunk and absent. Did her mother call out to her the night she died? A sound the inebriated Marie chose to ignore? Or was Marie imagining that had happened? How long does she punish herself for something that may not have happened at all?

A celebrated author still riding high on her last hit, ‘Porn for the Blind’, and now struggling to write the next, she spends her days drinking and wandering the streets, making friends and stumbling through incidents as if they don’t affect her.

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We see flashbacks to her close companionship with her mother, a fellow alcoholic. It seems they were used to finding each other in various states of intoxication, used to the sight of one another sleeping it off on the floor of their home. The loss of her mother is obviously a grief she hasn’t dealt with, and her life is paused for self-destruction until she can find a way through it.

After becoming better acquainted with her unstable neighbours and deciding to steal from them to support her alcoholism, Marie's life and existence grow precarious; her safety endangered after she is witness to a violent crime between prostitute and pimp, a crime her actions had caused.

bloody marie review

A film that claims to be based on the graphic novel written by its own titular main character certainly has the potential to come across as precious, but as buoyed in no small part by the natural lived-in efforts of lead Susanna Wolff (Styx), it manages to work the majority of the time.

It is she who we are taken on this journey with, and even when she makes questionable and then downright dangerous choices, we are already all in, and for better or worse, along for the ride.

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There are some standout scenes shot for maximum impact by directors Lennert Hillege and Guido van Driel, such as a rooftop misadventure where Marie’s every totter and stumble seems destined to eject her onto the hard cobblestones below; the handheld camerawork adds even more tension to the proceedings.

The use of colour and light, especially in the street scenes, affords the film a richness and vibrancy that stands in contrast to the easy soft light of her more contemplative moments.

bloody marie review

The supporting cast all do fine work with Dragos Bucur’s muscular performance as the menacing neighbour Dragonmir and his waif artist girlfriend Anna (Anna Tenta) making a strong impact.

Though having a dog in a film like this makes me nervous as a viewer, Lieze is important to the plot and a gorgeous creature onscreen (spoiler alert: relax, the dog makes it!).

I can’t say this is a film I necessarily enjoyed, but the subject intrigued me and I did admire the things it got right. Bloody Marie is a sumptuously produced, superbly acted film; but you’ll likely want to avoid the pub after it.

Bloody Marie is on VOD now.

2019 movie reviews