Adapted from a novel published in 2002, black crab It is presented as an unassuming post-apocalyptic film, whose action takes place in the present day in an Eastern European country ravaged by armed conflict. Corn the recent invasion of Ukraine immediately disrupts the universalist interpretation – belligerents are not identified – and dystopian a story that resonates most tangibly with our current events and the anxiety-provoking climate that set in several weeks (months? years?) ago. A necessarily more solemn reading emerges, in the same way that films like Contagion found a more likely echo at the start of the pandemic.
However, if this unfortunate calendar coincidence facilitates immersion and, in fact, imposes a certain relevance and credibility, the little that still belongs to fiction and the post-apocalypse is based on a much less passionate or exciting imagination : a few abandoned cars, a ghost town bathed in fog, a crashed digital plane and an overturned boat that serves as a makeshift shelter. Torn from its genre, the work is reduced to an ordinary contemporary war film that is content to chain the imposed figures: the last chance mission, a small group of soldiers who must survive in enemy territory and the sacrifice of one of them in each stage of your marked route.
If desperation is palpable, the overly sketchy script struggles to install tension and reuses worn style effects in an attempt to gain depth (ghostly visions or dreams and nightmares that act as flashbacks). And it would be too easy to forgive the weakness of the writing, and more particularly its decline to the cartoonish third act, for the most polished aesthetic of the film. Despite the beautiful contemplative shots of the snowy landscapes of Sweden and some scenic ideas to play with the movement of the characters, the production remains academic and without any real bias.
But the photography by Jonas Alarik (still unknown in France) effectively accentuates the symbolic contrast between the darkness, which serves as a refuge for the characters, and the light, which is a perpetual source of danger, while at the same time giving meaning to its pale patina. Although the effort must be emphasized, this beautiful packaging is not enough to divert attention from the story that slips and does not find its identity.
Hollywar on ice
more than war the real object of study of the film is obviously Caroline Edh, Noomi Rapace’s character in very large on the poster. The camera rarely loses sight of her and multiplies close-ups, while the entire story revolves around her point of view and her perception of her events. While there was little doubt about poor Karimi’s intentions, it’s the soldier’s paranoia that gets in the way of the group, though the setting doesn’t attempt to fuel any suspense at this point.
In the same way, Edh distrusts everything and everyone, but buys the obvious lies of his hierarchy, the truth being a revelation only in his eyes. Of course, the movie is predictable from start to finish, but that’s because he doesn’t try to surprise, just stick with his leading man’s feelings. The spectator’s keys to understanding are also his : Where did the lieutenant go at the beginning of the movie? Which side is he on? Vanya is alive? Did the explosion do anything?
Since Edh will never have his answers, neither will the audience. A pretty clever, if a bit frustrating, way to deal with a holey stage.
The moment you decide to take a walk
Beyond being strong and determined, Edh is therefore above all an amoral and thoughtless woman, who is only guided by the hope of saving her daughter. The soldier does not fight for any flag or against any country, the former never appears on screen (not even on military bases) and the latter does not have a distinct face. One of the scenes could even suggest a civil war, which would justify the very vague notion between victims and executioners.
He finally gives this omnipresent enemy a face in the last part of the film, which unfortunately abandons all subtlety for a shitty and idiotic ending. Mainly because this last act can’t resist the temptation to over-iconize its protagonist, who becomes the most contrived heroic and sacrificial figure trying to save the world in an anti-militarist take on the B-movie, even as the film does. tried. away from her for over an hour.
Black Crab is available on Netflix from March 18, 2022