Tag Archives: Alice Englert

Her Hidden Life

You Won’t Be Alone

by Hope Madden

To suppose that filmmaker Goran Stolevski is a fan of Terrence Malick seems fair. His tale of 19th century Macedonian witchery offers the same type of visual aesthetic, whispery voiceover and absence of dialog in much of Malick’s work, especially 2018’s A Hidden Life.

You Won’t Be Alone follows Neneva (Sara Klimoska), a teenager raised in isolation, hidden from the Wolf-eatress (Anamaria Marinca) who’s claimed her. Freed from hiding, the teen shapeshifter takes on different forms (Noomi Rapace, Felix Maritaud, Alice Englert) and learns of life.

The vast majority of the film’s spoken language comes in the form of Neneva’s thoughts via voiceover. Having grown up alone and unable to speak, Neneva’s language is disjointed and poetic, her musings untouched by traditional socialization.

These reflections are periodically punctuated by the bitter logic of her lifelong tormentor, the Wolf-eatress, whose own upbringing among the human race has left her horribly scarred, literally and metaphorically.

Sections of the film are quite lovely. Admirable performances all around help to keep you engaged. Klimoska’s physical performance reflects the primal beginnings of Neneva’s explorations. Rapace brings an awkward adolescence feel to the character’s early interpretations of normal human behavior. Englert carries the character into adulthood with quiet curiosity, never losing that animalistic inquisitiveness carried throughout the earlier performances.

Stolevski’s cast gives him all he could have hoped. Unfortunately, he doesn’t entirely deliver on his end. The story free floats, its style often overwhelming its substance. You feel every minute of its running time.

That’s not to say Stolevski’s approach is a failure, only that it’s taken too far. His fractured storytelling suits his purposes of exploring gender identity and the nature of humanity. He builds dread well and his fluid camera allows his tale to cast a spell.

The result is mainly entrancing, but too often frustrating.   

Leap of Faith

Them That Follow

by George Wolf

When a way of life not only makes you a social outcast, but presents increasing dangers to those closest to you, what would motivate you to cling even tighter?

It’s a premise that could easily lead to vilification, so credit filmmakers Britt Poulton and Dan Madison Savage for taking Them That Follow in a more resonant direction. Rather than relying on lazy condescension, they want to probe the psychological politics of control.

Mara (Alice Englert) is the pastor’s daughter in a small community of snake handlers in the Appalachian mountains. Her father Lemuel (Walton Goggins) preaches strict adherence to the Word, which requires frequent tests of faith, subjugation of women and shunning the ways of the material world.

But Mara’s interest is starting to move beyond the mountain, raising the suspicions of the stern Sister Slaughter (Olivia Coleman, recent Oscar-winner for The Favourite) and sparking the curiosity of her best friend Dilly (Kaitlyn Dever).

“Who you choose, girl, chooses your whole life,” Sister Slaughter cautions Mara. And Mara will soon face choices that will alter several lives.

Them That Follow benefits from a beautifully rustic production design and an unhurried pace, building earnest layers of authenticity that mirror a sublime ensemble cast (which includes a nice dramatic turn from comic Jim Gaffigan).

Poulton and Savage are not here to mock religious beliefs, but rather to question the motives of leaders who seek control by division. Followers are belittled by proxy (“They look down on you!”) while leaders make unhealthy demands and wash their hands of culpability (“It’s God’s law, not mine”).

While the film’s concerns are especially timely now, a third act that seems rushed and overly tidy loosens the grip of Them That Follow. The tail here has more bite than the head, but the serpent still deserves respect.