Isaac: Review

Isaac: Review

Isaac: Review. By Luke Foulder-Hughes.

Isaac is an excellent feature debut from director Jurgis Matulevicius, it deals with the overlooked participation from Lithuania and their persecution of Jewish people in the holocaust. It deals with guilt through a character named Gluosnis who was forced to kill a Jew called Isaac in the Lietukio Garage Massacre in the second world war. First things first I’d like to say that I appreciated this film’s technical aspects more than I enjoyed watching it, and this shows that this up and coming director has potential to be something special, especially as he took on such a difficult film to make.

By far my favourite thing about ‘Isaac’ was its incredible cinematography and camera work, which was at times so good I was distracted from reading the subtitles and following the narrative; and it’s a shame that this film will likely be snubbed come awards season, as it is definitely the best shot film of 2020 for me. It starts with a long tracking shot following Gluosnis and instantly hooks you into the story, as well as taking you aback with some of the best looking black and white cinematography since ‘La Haine’. The content in this scene is probably my favourite in the whole film, which could be seen as an issue as it does start at the highest possible note and never really matches this level in the rest of the film.

Another thing I was impressed by was the music choices, some really great songs were chosen and they generally work really well hand-in-hand with everything else visually. However, there were a few scenes that I thought the music wasn’t perfect, but this wasn’t a major issue and the sound mixing was excellent and ensured that the music never overpowered the scene. 

The bleakness of this film was difficult to watch at times, and took multiple viewings to watch, not due to boredom but more through the depressing nature of the subject matter and how well made this was to make it feel this way. The fantastic acting played a part in this, making the film feel realistic, there were no standout performances as every actor was at the top of their game. 

An issue I had with this film was the overly confusing plot, which was heavily reliant on exposition. This wasn’t handled very well in my opinion as it gave the audience too much information to handle and didn’t give time for other key points to fully sink in before unloading more onto you. As well as this, the timeline felt a little messy, as it was never really clear when something was taking place, although, generally it didn’t feel too bad and was relatively easy to follow. 

An issue I did have with this film was the character Elena’s role in it, to me it didn’t really seem like she added very much and could’ve been removed all together and the narrative wouldn’t change much. In my opinion, I felt that her screen time would’ve been better used on fleshing out Gluosnis’ story, as he did feel a little underdeveloped for the main focal point of the movie. 

I wouldn’t be able to decide my full thoughts on ‘Isaac’ without watching it again, as the film does have a lot going on and needs full attention of the viewer. I’d recommend this to people who like watching films like ‘Come and See’ which handle a heavy subject matter in a bleak and depressing way, I’d also recommend people steer clear if they aren’t great at handling difficult films like this.

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