127. Nitram (2022) - Cinema
I didn’t actually know that this is about a real event until the end. I initially thought that it was doing something akin to Dark Night (a weird film that’s stuck with me despite not liking it an awful lot) in that it uses a real event – Dunblane – to parallel a fictional story commenting on how the real event came to be. As it happens, there were just two similar tragedies in a close period of time at opposite ends of the globe. I can understand how it was met with controversy as it almost, at points, seems like it’s sympathising with the killer and his trauma, mental deficiencies and all-round inability to exist in society. This could’ve been a “look how society’s failed him” film, but there’s always the feeling that something very dangerous is bubbling from the very start. It’s trying to show how unstable this guy was and how easy it was for him to pursue his obsession with guns. The first two acts are about building this character for what he goes on to do in the final act and questioning how it was allowed to happen. It’s a constant descent that I don’t think does empathise with him; you know something bad’s gonna happen and you know that he’s gonna be the perpetrator. It’s a good sound choice to ramp up the sound design of the firecrackers, then the air rifle, before finally the actual guns. It links in with that idea of what dangerous people can access.
Initially, I wasn’t actually sure about it being set in the 90s (obviously before I knew it actually happened) as I thought that might have negated the message, lacking the punch of “this is happening and folk are letting it happen.” That wasn’t fair, though, as it does still feel incredibly current. So much so that the shooter even sets up a camera to film his actions (reminiscent of the Buffalo shooting quite recently), so it then becomes “this is still happening, despite all the trauma it’s caused” which feeds into the final titles. Need to give props to the performances, especially from the mum, dad and the woman from The Babadook as they are the humanity of the film, completely lost as they try to do their best for a person with no basis in reality. For whatever reason, I didn’t think that there was enough to Caleb Landry Jones’ performance despite him doing really well from a physical performance point of view. Maybe the lack of layers was deliberate, but, despite not actually being as down on him as an actor as others, I’ve not seen anything that suggests he’s got much more in him.
It is understandable, imo, why Tasmanian citizens were uncomfortable about it, and I think there’d be a similar reaction here if they made a film about Dunblane (which I didn't know built up a connection with Tasmania due to this event). While I found it a really interesting piece, that won’t be enough for the folk affected by the massacre which is fair enough. It’s not something they’ll want to relive and delving into the mind of the person who injured them or killed someone they loved must feel pretty horrific. I had no connection to the event and even I found it a bit uncomfortable that it exists, and certainly felt unsettled during and after it but that was a testament to the filmmaking as, like I said, I didn’t know it was an actual event. It’s not graphic at all, just deeply unpleasant on a psychological level which stayed with me for a while after watching. There won’t be many films that will affect me like that this year, even if it’s not something I’ll be shouting from the rooftops telling folk to see. There are others I’ve liked much more than Nitram, but very few this affecting.