In a barren landscape ravished by war, Molly, a super-powered young woman roams the violent post-apocalyptic landscape, armed only with a bow and arrow, to confront the dangers around her. When a sadistic ringmaster who runs an underground fight club hears of her supernatural abilities, he sends his sociopathic marauders to capture her and make her a star attraction in his cage fights.
Julia Batelaan is Molly, a tough and capable young woman, not dissimilar to Emily Blunt, though bypassing the period dramas and immediately diving into the action roles. Against this dystopian landscape, we can expect to see many of the tropes reminiscent of Waterworld (1995) or Mad Max (1979), roaming gangs, outlaws and charlatans, a new currency (in this instance it’s bullets). The Arch-villain is straight from Brad Pitt’s school of dystopian madmen. However, in the extended contemplative scenes that document Molly quietly surviving and preparing her supplies the direction leans more toward Kelly Reichardt than Terry Gilliam. At first glance, Molly ticks all the boxes: a sure-footed post-apocalyptic sci-fi. The addition of slower moments is a reminder that this genre wasn’t always 100% action 100% of the time, and that matters.
In the final third of the film, Molly really comes into its own. It is incredible to see how well the producers (Colinda Bongers, Vincent Kranenburg, Thijs Meuwese, Kris Patmo) have used the modest budget of $310,000, with great credit to the stunt team. A lengthy fight scene, which inhabits the entire labyrinthine set unites stunning camerawork and choreography. Its flow evokes Childish Gambino’s This is America, and at points could be mistaken for a SIA music video – though here fighting replaces dancing. The timing brought back memories of Michel Gondry’s music videos, and the satisfaction of seeing the separate parts fall into place.
Molly captures the zeitgeist, illustrating the patchwork nature of this era. The political climate has ushered in a new wave of films exploring themes favoured in the Cold War era. Men in suits oversee shady military experiments, conspiracy theories, people reduced to scavengers fighting over scraps. The wider story Molly alludes to is perhaps a little close to Stranger Things, though the weaponised-young-girl idea is another sign of the times. In Molly, we can see a glimpse of the type of film that will define the Trump/Brexit era of disaster politics.
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