A neo-noir dystopian (NND) film is a twisted and very dark point of view in a movie about a place or time in which everything is unpleasant. It can sometimes be a genre within a genre, which sets the movie apart from other forms of films.
The day after I learned two more of my friends had died, I sat myself in front of the screen and watched four movies to help draw me out of my sadness. Each flick was either an NND or contained some element of the genre.
The last movie watched is, “Arrival,” which contained elements throughout it. These included ‘memory and sequences,’ ‘news report cut-ins,’ and ‘character shifts,’ from minor, like a nervous shaking hand, vomiting into a garbage can, to major like the attempted destruction of the alien craft and the death of a child from an illness. And as a side note: Amy Adams has the most perfect turned up nose in films these days.)
In the film, “Revolt,” the opening scenes are confusing and I believe edited that way to kind of throw the viewer into a sense of confusion as we jump suddenly form combat to our protagonist awaking in a jail cell. The entire film moves from there and continues to be a great example of NND as an already broken society, further breaks down.
The second film watched is one I generally avoid because I’m personally burned out on the premise of the world coming apart because of some disease that turns otherwise healthy humans beings into man-eating killers: zombies. However, “The Girl with All the Gifts,” was slightly different as the child had the capacity to control her urges and in the end redefines the monstrosity humanity had been – especially towards her and her kind.
Lastly, and fitting that it was my first film of the day, and is now the last film of this review, is “Bushwick.” It takes the viewer from the seemingly unpleasant chaos of everyday living to the hell of a civil war, twisting secessionists against American citizens, who are unaware that the Union has divided.
This ‘twist’ is what creates a truly NND element in this film. The main protagonists are from different walks of life; a Hospital Corpsman turned janitor and a college student on her way home to visit her family, and both caught up in a sudden attack.
The janitor is ‘hiding from his emotional pain,’ and ‘avoids much of society’ because of it’s ‘ugliness.’ The student is ‘simply happy-go-luck,’ not a care in the world until the ‘shit-hits-the-fan’ and her world’s turned upside down.
“Bushwick,’ gave me a new point of view on social upheaval and the violence that a civil war will produce. Yes, it is pretty certain that if it were a foreign invading force, most armed American citizens would pick up a weapon to defend themselves and their neighbor.
But what if it were secessionist and what if they failed in letting anyone know that the ‘revolt’ was happening? Yeah, therein lays the twist of all NND twists.
Each of these films made me feel something beyond my real heartache and each gave me an opportunity to reflect on exactly how had things can get if such fictions turned real. It is one of the many ways I’ve taught myself to deal with the stresses of persistent melancholia and use it as a tool to move forward.