Words Glenn Blomfield
With earlier reviews I have seen for New Zealand film Human Traces,they are very positive, describing an intense dark psychological dramatic thriller. Though I wasn’t able to experience that myself, I posed the question; “Why wasn’t I having the same response?”.
I sat on it rueing over the film, before I finally came to writing my review. Writer & Director Nic Gorman’s first feature film, proves he has the ‘chops’ but for me not the full juicy- meal satisfaction. I remind you, my reaction to the film does differ to a majority of NZ reviewers I have read.
The film is made of small tight cast, three key roles with actors Sophie Henderson a unmistakable talent who is also a script writer (Fantail), Mark Mitchinson well known on big and small screens in NZ, and Vinnie Bennett who will swoon a few hearts and may have a shining film career in front of him.
The storyline is set on a remote Sub Arctic Island, a married couple with a large age gap, are researchers, their relationship and life on the island is challenged by a new arrival, from a mysterious young man. There is a silence in the film, an ambiguity that leads the viewer looking for more answers, trying to pull you in. though I felt it also creates a coldness that can detach you from the characters, it resonates into the narrative and the landscape.
I wanted to be more involved in the drama, wanted it to give me more clarity, not just the feeling of emptiness. This maybe the intention of the themes in the film, but I felt I was taken away from the foreboding psychological dramatic thriller.
The construction of the narrative is effective, where the story is taken from the points of view of the key character involved, each of three storylines filling in what is missing from each other. It is a clever stylistic approach, though the technique can distract from a strong character prescence to connect with.
So there you have it, I may be in the minority in my view of the film, but it is my two cents worth.