Australian director Ben Young’s debut feature film is a dark tale, the darkest I’ve seen in years, about a murderous couple in the suburbs of a small town in Australia. The film is a Psychological thriller based on the murders and kidnappings of Perth’s murderous couple The Birnies, and though this fact is never mentioned in the film, the similarities between the murders committed by The Birnies and those represented on screen are incredibly hard to miss. Now before we go any further, this film is indeed not for the faint of heart. Despite the fact that almost all of the violence and gore is done off-screen, Hounds of Love remains a nerve wrecking experience that will ultimately disturb its viewer.
The story follows a rebellious high school girl, Vicky (Ashleigh Cummings), who is stuck in the middle of her parents’ divorce. One night she escapes her house after being grounded only to be lured into the home of deranged couple Evelyn and John White (Emma Booth and Stephen Curry). What follows is an 80 minute long nightmare of disturbing perversity and torture, and some very fine filmmaking. The strength of Hounds of Love lies not in the gore and the bloodshed, but in the fact that it keeps everything as realistic and authentic as possible. The way John and Evelyn lead their lives is highly plausible which makes for an even more chilling story. In other words; Ben Young managed to capture true human evil on screen, and it is both unsettling and mesmerizing.
As the film progresses, we delve deeper into the demented psyches of the couple as the dynamic behind their relationship unfolds in front of Vicky, who soon realizes that her only way to escape is to use this dynamic in her favor. Hounds of Love goes the extra mile in trying to explain the highly abusive codependent relationship that binds these two murderers together. Backed by praise worthy performances from all the cast – especially the two leading ladies – the film delivers a powerful and troubling character study of the minds of serial killer couples. Perhaps the film’s only sin is that its pace is often confusing; with it being too slow for a thriller, yet too fast for a drama. This discontinuity gives an impression of being rather underdeveloped.
Hounds of Love is a film destined for critical acclaim. Its powerful camerawork, intense performances, and ultra-realism all make for a respectable work of art that would both shock and captivate its audience, and it would definitely appear on lots of lists for best Australian films in the future.
I have to be honest with you here; I was in a position to choose between Baby Driver, Edgar Wright’s latest action-packed, comedy heist movie, and Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan’s epic endeavor that has been showered by rave reviews from the critics over the past few weeks. Needless to say I went with Baby Driver, because I would take Wright’s quirky originality over Nolan overrated pretentiousness any day, but let’s not get into this argument just yet.
Starring Ansel Elgort as the title character; a young man who is forced to work as a getaway driver for a crime lord called Doc (Kevin Spacey) in order to pay off his debt. Trouble arises as soon as Bats (Jamie Foxx), a wild and unpredictable mobster, joins the group for a risky heist that threatens to get everyone in it imprisoned or worse, and that includes fellow mobsters Buddy (Jon Hamm), and Darling (Eiza Gonzalez). The film which includes some of the most impressive car chase scenes over the past few years was shot by Bill Pope (The Matrix, Cosmos) with some gorgeous black and white vignettes about the main character’s love interest Deborah (Lily James) and a colorful color palette typical of Wright.
The film also contains an extraordinary soundtrack including both classic rock tracks, and some original tracks remixed from actual dialogue in the movie. The remarkable thing with Wright’s use of the music in the film is that it’s not there simply to add some liveliness in the background of a scene, the music of Baby Driver is more or less the star of the film. It is explained in the film that the main character has a constant buzzing in his ears and thus uses music to drown it out, however the way the music tracks are incorporated in the car chases and basically the characters’ everyday lives goes way beyond that. According to an interview, Wright stated that the opening scene of the film was inspired by the track used in it; “Bellbottoms”, and that he even included the tracks he wanted to use in every scene with the script surprisingly before the studio secured these tracks’ from their owners.
Baby Driver is an exhilarating ride with great visual comedy and not just some cool punch lines, it has a refreshing approach when it comes to using music in an action film, which keeps the whole thing original and creative. However, the film doesn’t really take itself too seriously in terms of exploring a new aspect of filmmaking or something similarly grand; it is simply a heist movie, it’s true that it’s a really cool heist movie, but it doesn’t really introduce any groundbreaking ideas to the genre, and that is exactly why I went with Baby Driver and not Dunkirk, because personally I’d rather pay for a film that knows exactly how good it is and what it offers to its viewers than another with somewhat exaggerated delusions about its own artistic value, and that kind of self-awareness is exactly why I believe Baby Driver will eventually evolve into a cult classic over the following couple of years.