How does one review a film like the French language Martyrs? It certainly can’t be said that this movie can be ‘enjoyed’ by any understanding of the meaning of enjoyment. Martyrs begin with the story of a young girl who had escaped captivity from a horrific abuse and 15 years later, seeks revenge on her captors.
This film is nasty and violent. Incredibly violent, the kind that makes one sick to one’s core. It’s pure misery almost the entire way through. The plot is a little thin, but that is no matter: the sheer intensity of what is going on, helped by handheld camerawork and high amounts of claustrophobic shots, with the most brutal of effects of bodily mortification and harsh sound keep the consistent mood of grief.As the characters get broken down, so do you. It is frighteningly immersive and challenging for the viewer. It is a film that will make you feel like garbage. With an original score that sounds like something that would almost fit Silent Hill maintains the oppressive atmosphere. This is a film purely about the raw feeling it gives you, the total depths of sterile and impersonal violence that can be done to a person. It’s really the perfect blend of how the feelings that the film gives you really drive the narrative content and your understanding of the film.
There’s not much else to say about this on a technical level, because that’s all great. It can’t be said that I enjoyed the film, even though it was excellent. If you think you can take this kind of movie that makes you feel an absolutely miserable, it is worth martyring yourself to. Most people probably won’t be able to handle this. And that’s fine. But it is an amazing movie in what I call the ‘human misery’ sub genre.