“Marionette”

November 4th, 2021 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““Marionette””

“Marionette” is a chilling psychological drama washed with Twilight Zone-esque hues. Co-writer and director Elbert van Strien takes trauma and turns it into a question of the meaning of life with undercurrents of religion as his star, Dr. Marianne Winter portrayed by Thekla Reuten searches for a new life. With every twist and turn, van Strien has you questioning and attempting to put together the complete puzzle, but his imagination is greater than ours, surprising us with an ending that will haunt your next move.

The story begins as Dr. Marianne Winter has traveled from a secure therapist’s position in Upstate New York to the dreary backdrop of Scotland to take over a psychologist’s position who has abruptly left. Welcomed by the warm staff, she studies her client list in the dreadfully depressing office she now calls her own. Her patients, all children, have severe issues, but one boy, Manny (Elijah Wolf) says, and more importantly, draws things yet to come. Her reaction is initially inquisitive as she brushes it off as coincidental, but as the pictures, dark and foreboding, become a part of her life, she begins to spiral out of control.

Marianne’s reactions and the boy’s menacing looks countered by angelic expressions for those who feel nothing but sympathy for this orphan, take her down a path of no return. Questioning her own actions, free will, as well as good and evil, Marianne must find answers and protect herself, but even those actions and thoughts are in question.

The setting, equally important to the script and actors, envelops us as we sink deeper and deeper into the story. The institution in which the story is set is more like a castle or a prison. The formidable structure seems impenetrable foreshadowing what lies ahead. Van Strien captures the land’s dampness and chill which augments the overall feel of “Marionette.” And as the story ramps up, the weather gets worse.

“Marionette” is a smart thriller with performances by a small ensemble cast that finds just the right pacing and tone to deliver believable characters. Reuten’s authenticity as a woman trying to bury her tragic past and find a new future as it is derailed by a mere child connects us to her. The dialogue is never forced, but has a sense of reality to it even given the strange circumstances. As genuine as Reuten’s performance is, Wolf is equally skilled in his portrayal of a menacing boy who can turn on a dime with his expressions, but never is this over the top. Together, Wolf and Reuten create a story that is both engaging and cognitively stimulating as we push our abilities to predict the outcome.

“Marionette” is an original concept — something we just don’t see anymore — that takes us on a psychologically chilling ride. Attention to every detail with exceptional performances makes this a breathtaking film that is sure to stick with you.

3 1/2 Stars

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