The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Cinema/VOD] - THE OFFERING | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Cinema/VOD] - THE OFFERING

the offering review
man becomes obsessed with winning back the woman who left him 20 years earlier.

Review by Benjamin Poole

Directed by: Ventura Durall

Starring: Alex Brendemühl, Anna Alarcón, Verónica Echegui

the offering poster

The biggest, and most damaging, belief that fairy tales ever inculcated is the ‘happily ever after’ myth. This catch all conclusion is a bogus assurance because, even for those of us who may be blessed with long term and loving relationships, the course ain’t going to run smooth forever: at the very least it will involve unhappy compromise, hard-won forgiveness and tough teamwork. I reckon the expectation of an impossible perfection is what ends up condemning most relationships, this inability to accept the bloom coming off the rose, the firm reality that the first flush of love is by its very nature ephemeral. Nonetheless, popular culture fetishizes these exciting, fleeting flashes in time via teen romances and romcoms (not to mention the most misunderstood play of all time, Romeo and Juliet, which isn’t about love at all, but a couple of daft kids who simply got carried away), usually cutting the narrative at the first tentative steps towards consummation - the climatic kiss. We never know what happened to Danny and Sandy 10 years down the line, or, say, the potential future of the kids from The Blue Lagoon (another Randal Kleiser film!) if they hadn’t gone and eaten those bloody berries.

the offering review

Ventura Durall’s (director, sharing script duties with Sandra Beltrán, Clara Roquet and Guillem Sala) The Offering offers a perverse mediation on the idealism of doomed teen love, and the ensuing investments that we make in fairy tale values. Jan (Alex Brendemühl, Hispanic Liev Schreiber) is in his early forties. Having rescued fiery twentysomething cam girl Rita (Verónica Echegui, a Mediterranean Daisy Ridley) from a suicide attempt, the destitute kid falls in love with him. It’s all a bit messy as Jan met the porn actress delivering news of Rita’s own father’s death by suicide (oi, Rita, Electra called: she wants her complex back). This opening vignette offers an early indication of The Offering’s delicious cynicism about love and relationships, with its central conviction that affiliations are always one sided, and that partners unknowingly provide consolation for whatever psychological baggage weighs down their counterpart.

the offering review

Jan, you see, is still hung up on a relationship he had decades ago, with young Violeta. To be fair, what arises in flashback is the sort of dreamy fling which even the great Mr Kleiser would perhaps consider a bit on the nose: a summer vacation romance, with the Adonis-like young Jan whisking Violeta away from her annoying family and along the coast for swims in secret bays, literal sex on the beach and the rebel excitement of young love. Of course, summer lovin’ doesn’t last forever, and time and life move on, and grown-up Violeta (Anna Alarcón, a Spanish Nicola Walker) eventually marries nice-but-drab Nico, has a couple of kids, and becomes a psychiatrist. But then, one fated morning, Rita walks into her practice and makes claims about her husband being obsessed with another woman: Violeta.

What follows is a contemporary take on Hitchcockian flavours of obsession and cruelty, with Jan attempting, via deft manipulation of the damaged Rita, to insinuate himself into Violeta’s life once again, and Violeta for her part likewise tempted by the lingering memories of teenage lust. Although The Offering is marketed as a sex thriller, within the narrative Durrall counterpoints the erotic opportunities of youth with the desperate seediness of middle age, and suggests how the harmless, and natural, extra-curricular fantasies of the long term relationshipee becomes utterly destructive when encouraged.

the offering review

Like that other essayist of male obsession, Durrall’s camera has the dirty old man energy of DePalma. The nudity is almost exclusively of the female kind, and gratuitous enough (yes, even in an erotic thriller) to cause me, one of the filthiest people alive, to balk a bit. Would it be too trite to correspond the very blunt male gaze with the density of the character writing, which is penned, in part, by two female screenwriters? As if the film is borne of the very same tension which characterises its own narrative? It is intriguing that the script gives us poignant and insightful female psychology, broaching the idea that Violeta’s secure and uneventful life is no excuse for her illicit cravings, and that longing for the past at the exclusion of the present is sociopathic. Rita (and the superlative performance of Echegui) is conducive to these ideas: a clever, beautiful pornographer who is well aware of people’s weaknesses and how to exploit them. The camera often resorts to her incredible face during dialogue scenes: a concatenation of guarded looks, sly understandings and human pain. She is the only one to comprehend the bleak absurdity of adults who still believe in the childish lie of love.

Spoiler: loses a star for the silly ending.

The Offering is in UK cinemas and on on VOD from July 30th.

2021 movie reviews