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Involuntary - Review


Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2.5 out of 5

RUBEN Östlund’s Involuntary is more of a curiosity piece than a movie… a cinema experience that’s more akin to people watching.

Based on the director’s own experiences, the film adopts a fly on the wall approach to the lives of several different people and how they cope with a particular drama or crisis.

For instance, a teacher fears being ostracised by her colleagues after daring to speak out against one for his overly rough treatment of a rowdy pupil, while a coach driver determines to get to the bottom of who was responsible for damaging his vehicle… a scenario that has repercussions for every passenger once he refuses to take them to their destination until he gets an answer.

Then there’s two beauty obsessed teenage girls whose pursuit of revellry blinds them to any potential dangers, and a group of male friends, one of whom struggles to cope with the [possibly] homosexual advances of another.

Östlund allows each scenario to unfold as if in real life, refusing to judge any of the characters and allowing his audience to form their own opinions.

But while this certainly makes for curious viewing, it’s never entirely gripping.

Perhaps part of the problem lies with Östlund himself, whose directorial style frequently threatens to take viewers out of the ensuing drama by virtue of his strange, sometimes infuriating establishing shots.

Some scenes unfold with the camera trained on the back of people’s heads or, worse, from their shoes, which distracts from the main event and seems pointless.

But not every story holds the attention either, with too much time devoted to some and not enough to others.

Östlund readily admits to posessing a non mainstream point of view but his desire to be different, while noble, sometimes feels rebellious for the sake of it. He remains an interesting filmmaker, and Involuntary a flawed but fascinating experience, but more by virtue of the faults that exist with both… if only to try and work out where they’re coming from.

In Swedish, with subtitles

Certificate: 15
Running time: 98mins
UK Release Date: October 29, 2010