Embracing the Chaos
Something I like about Jennifer is her fearlessness toward embracing the chaos. I would compare her directorial sensibility to that of Kathryn Bigelow, especially in her handling of unexpected violence. When the traffic stop goes wrong, the depiction of death and carnage is sudden and absurd. But there’s also an impish playfulness at work. With Lynch, one can almost squint and see a cartoon devil dancing around the characters, rubbing its palms in eager delight.
There’s a real-world ugliness to the misanthropy that drives certain characters’ actions, yet even the most depraved somehow maintain slivers of recognizable humanity and vulnerability by the time the credits roll. As the chilling final shot fades to black, we’re left to consider the fate of someone who’s not only been abandoned by an indifferent world but whose perception has been forever altered by the events of a, particularly horrifying day.
Jennifer creates worlds that are based in reality, but leave your guts tangled with the unresolved fallout of moral quandaries. You’ll be left wondering if people like serial-killer-idolizing cops Bennett and Jim Conrad (an unrecognizable French Stewart) actually exist. I’m sure they do, but part of me appreciated that their corrupt antics stem from a particular strain of civil-servant boredom that likely settled in years before. It makes their “good cop, bad cop” play-acting a paradox of danger and dark humor.
More from Horror Movies
- Godzilla Minus One makes the King of the Monsters terrifying again
- A Creature Was Stirring scares up yuletide frights
- Pig Killer (2023): A morally ambiguous dive into shock cinema
- Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls: Demonically fun times
- Tobin Bell stars in new horror movie The Cello
The pairing of FBI agents Sam Hallaway (Pullman) and Elizabeth Anderson (Ormond) is also interesting. In an extension of the isolated setting, Hallaway spends a majority of the film in a separate room, monitoring the suspect/witness interviews remotely. Anderson, meanwhile, attempts to connect with soft-spoken Stephanie, who lost her family in the incident.
The top-billed Ormond is particularly excellent here. While the power dynamic between her and Pullman could’ve carried an unappealing whiff of co-dependence, it’s Anderson who maintains composure throughout the ordeal. Lynch manifests her character with a palpable sense of authority, none of which is diluted by the scenes in which she shows a maternal side. It’s an extremely layered performance in a film where everyone is concealing at least one ulterior motive.