LIFF 25: El Premio (The Prize) - Cinema Review

'by the time you're watching two characters break-off mid conversation to take a nap, the temptation to do likewise is pretty palpable'

An incredibly ambiguous and detached political and human drama, The Prize takes a route devoid of powerful rhetoric and debate and replaces it with windswept beaches and enforced isolation. Director Paula Markovitch's feature debut, this is a film which is, on face value, more concerned with the effects of political and social isolation than the ideologies which caused them.

As such, it spends a nicely-shot first hour building up the feeling of 'secrets-hidden' in a beach house somewhere in Argentina, as mother (Laura Agorreca) and daughter (Paula Galinelli Hertzog) battle the elements, themselves and the occasional cameo from a comically intelligent dog. In the background, some well-judged, out-of-tune music warns you that there's probably something unpleasant due to turn up in the third act.

The problem with all this is that there's really not a huge amount going on for long periods of time. The intrigue dissipates for massive stretches, leaving little relief from the plodding narrative save the canine. The bleached cinematography from Wojciech Staron only gets the film so far and by the time you're watching two characters break-off mid conversation to take a nap, the temptation to do likewise is pretty palpable.

That said, there's a lovely performance from Hertzog (who looks more than a little like Chloƫ Moretz) and Markovitch's dedication to not providing firm details of anything will, if not excite, then at least interest those bored by Hollywood's expositional treatise.




The Prize plays again at LIFF25 on Sunday 6th November at 16.00.

Look further...

'another piece of bleak, festival-friendly slow cinema with repetitive images and little dialogue or music' - What Culture

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