Here’s the thing about Steven Soderbergh, the director of this decade’s Ocean’s 11-13. He’s not a very cool filmmaker. Sure, his films are cool, and as he’s grown they’ve only become more effortlessly so. But the way he approaches them is like watching a masterclass in restraint. He is interested in the primacy of the story, everything must flow out of that. And if the story is cool, that’s great, you follow the story and the characters’ truths and piece by piece the cool will make itself.
There’s a lot of grief in Hereditary and none of its characters know where to put it. It opens on the funeral of this family’s matriarchal grandmother. Toni Collette’s Annie struggles through her speech at the alter, trying to reconcile her mother’s abusive personality with the weight of her loss. Like, when the feelings that you feel don’t fit neatly into sadness where do they go?
It must be hard being extraordinary. It’s like once the world has singled you out as being so, there’s no escaping it. All of a sudden your hours are not yours, your living becomes an act of public service. I guess everyone deals with it in their own way. It seems easier the more populist your appeal is, at least then people become more accepting of the ways that you choose to cope with it all. So long as you don’t go too hard in the public eye, you’re allowed.
Now I haven’t seen any of Arnaud Desplechin’s other films. Maybe I should have. Maybe it would have prepared me a little better, the trailer certainly did an inefficient job of that. I thought it would be one of those French flicks that one could comfortably nap through, man on holiday with his partner at the sea when out of nowhere his long lost and presumed dead wife appears to start causing drama. You know, a classic romantic drama, probably elevated by the presence of Marion Cotillard, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Mathieu Amalric as the trio who the action revolves around.
When the title comes up at the end of My Friend Dahmer saying that the man would go on to murder 17 people over the course of the next 20 years it feels like a punchline. The film ain’t been particularly cagey about the young leads predilections. We see him in his the shed where as a child he would dissolve roadkill in acid to study their decomposition and preserve their bones, we see his neglectful and abusive parents dumping on him at home, the way he drinks to cope with the troubles in his life, the way his repressed and mismanaged anger chooses to express itself.