Sick Sick Sick


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Sick Sick Sick
"The director has an eye for a strong image that bodes well for future projects, but their use here is often smack on the nose." | Photo: Courtesy of La Quinzaine

Alice Furtado's debut feature - which is playing at Cannes Directors' Fortnight - takes a dreamy approach to obsession that, while it might have worked in the short form of filmmaking she is more used to, struggles to sustain the 100-minute runtime.

The plot, co-written with Leonardo Levis, centres on Silvia (Luiza Kosovski) and, in particular, her emotional connection to new kid in her class Artur (Juan Paiva). We barely see the pair actually talking, as their characters are drawn mostly through their physical, sexual connection and, less successfully, via sub-French New Wave voice-over in which Silvia outlines her thoughts. Artur might have a devil may care attitude, but he also has a serious illness, haemophilia.

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Suffice to say, things do not end well for their relationship and Silvia's life begins to spiral out of control. She becomes sick, both physically and mentally, and in a bid to help her regain an equilibrium, her family takes her out of the city to a beach-front house, where she sleeps, for reasons that, like much in the movie, are never explained, in a tent.

There, her obsession really begins in earnest, although it's hard to connect with it since she's been drawn in such a vague way to begin with. In a short film, filmmakers can get away with little in the way of characterisation but here it's hard to care about a girl that we barely get to know. The drifting storytelling doesn't help, as we waft in and out of her conversations with a neighbouring artist (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart) who has lost his mum in an accident, a friend she meets on the beach and her increasingly unhealthy focus on a book about Haitian rituals.

Furtado's film shares some psychological similarities to Josephine Decker's Madeline's Madeline, but where Decker plunges us into Madeline's mindscape with all its horror and unpredictability, Furtado only scrapes the surface, as though unsure of what tone to adapt. The director has an eye for a strong image that bodes well for future projects, but their use here is often smack on the nose - crashing waves at just the right moment or a naked woman walking with a dog on the beach. She shows more aptitude in the emotional storytelling at the start of the film - her sex scenes, particularly, have plenty of erotic sizzle - but Furtado struggles to take it anywhere significant. We can hear what Silvia is saying but we never get a feel for her.

Reviewed on: 24 May 2019
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Sick Sick Sick packshot
A teenager becomes fascinated with a new kid in class who is a haemophiliac. When tragedy strikes, she finds a new obsession.

Director: Alice Furtado

Writer: Alice Furtado, Leonardo Levis

Starring: Luiza Kosovski, Juan Paiva, Digão Ribeiro, Silvia Buarque, Lourenço Mutarelli, Ismar Tirelli Neto, Valentina Luz, Nahuel Perez Biscayart

Year: 2019

Runtime: 90 minutes

Country: Brazil, Netherlands, France

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