There comes a point where you have to walk away from cinema and take a breather. Not because the film was particularly bad or offensive, but the film is so meaty that digesting it is making you sore. I can give you an example. I caught The Act of Killing on a special Sky screening which was lucky because I don’t think I would’ve been able to watch it all without the ability to pause it, compose myself, and continue watching.
Malady is one of those films that is so dark and complex that it will continue to twist in your brain long after viewing. Though the context of that churning has yet to be debated – am I feeling distress over the character’s journey, or is the finale so manipulative in its extremity that the thoughts are clouding my judgement? I don’t think I’ll ever know.
I’m not going to lie and I’m sorry to be so blunt about this, I don’t know how to sum up Malady. I’ll try my best, however. Malady is a disorientating exploration into the darker side of humanity and sexuality. Director Jack James certainly extrapolates this psychological and sexual relationship where the sins and worries of the pair are thrust, literally, together in this heated way as they find a connection with one another. Compensating for the lack of budget, James wields the camera to a dizzying effect that zooms close to all of the actors to illuminate the closeness and contours of their bodies and emotions.
The finale alludes to films such as The Paperboy where you are perplexed when leaving yet it curdles in your stomach. There is an ambiguous atmosphere here because it is so cold and stark in its approach. With the perplexing close-ups that broil the nauseating nature in your stomach, the thick score that bellows in your soul, and performances by the excruciatingly powerful Roxy Bulger (Holly), Kemal Yildirim (Matthew) and Jill Connick (Lorelai), Malady lives up to its name. It’s less a film and more a disease, infecting your spirit and leaving you indisposed when it finishes.
Whether this is a complaint or not has yet to be decided.