After losing their only child in a devastating tsunami, Paul (Rufus Sewell, Dark City) and Janet Belhmer (Emmanuelle Beart, Mission Impossible) barely have the strength to go on. Paul is lacking in faith when his wife claims to have seen their son in a documentary about the orphans living in the Burmese jungle. He shows his support by agreeing to join her on a search for the boy. They really should have stayed at home. What they uncover is both devastating and destructive. Drug traffickers threaten their lives and a clan of rabid children suggest a fate far worse than anything death could ever conjure up. Vinyan is a slow burner that takes us on an uncomfortable journey into the heart of madness.
The Ordeal (Calvaire) was a tough watch, but there’s no denying the raw power behind Fabrice Du Welz’s breakthrough feature. It really is a stunning movie, not to mention one of the strangest films I’ve ever seen, and some of the scenes will stay with you forever. Any film that asks the question ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’ and answers it with the words ‘ask the pig’ has got to be worth watching at least once. Vinyan has, at its heart, an intriguing premise, a storyline that should suit Fabrice Du Welz’s style of filmmaking down to the ground, but anyone expecting a similar movie going experience to Calvaire will come away disappointed. Vinyan is nowhere near as messed up as its predecessor, even if it does have its icky moments come the final act. For the most part, however, Vinyan is a human drama, toying with the darkness but never truly committing.
I’m a big fan of Rufus Sewell, largely down to his appearance in Dark City, but his performance here takes a little getting used too. I can see why some people would question his acting ability; at times he appears to be phoning it in. His performance does improve as the movie progresses - either that or you just get used to him - while on the other hand Emmanuelle Beart is excellent throughout. The more she loses grip on reality the more enjoyable her performance becomes, and the final act serves up a fair share of memorable moments that will stay with you for some time to come.
The closing images alone are breathtaking. The guide on their journey serves up another fine performance. Thanksin Gao (Petch Osathanugrah) oozes menace from every pore and keeps the movie on the right side of edginess. Or should that be the wrong side? Fabrice should be credited too for his work behind the camera. His direction is exceptional throughout and I have high hopes for his future in filmmaking. Praise too for the cinematography, the film looks absolutely stunning in high definition.
Vinyan isn’t without fault though. Not a lot actually happens during the course of the movie and some fans might find the lack of genuine horror unnerving. Vinyan serves up a slow tease of torment and titillation. The final act offers up a sprinkling of stand out moments but nothing here matches the ferociousness of The Ordeal, it’s just not that kind of movie. Supporting players are introduced but their plot strands are never fully developed. Fabrice should have ditched the unnecessary character arcs and cut loose with the crazy sooner.
A great opportunity was missed with Vinyan, especially considering the film that came before it, and though I was entertained throughout, I was expecting more from one of the most promising filmmakers in the world today. Solid but unspectacular, disturbing but never truly terrifying, Fabrice is yet to deliver his defining vision. AW