Rulerofowls and Couchowl have both seen Jeremy Saulnier’s latest movie, “Hold the Dark”, and both have different feelings on it. The movie stars Jeffrey Wright, Riley Keough, and Alexander Skarsgard, and tells the story of a writer who is accepts the pleadings of a grieving mother to come to her remote Alaskan village and find the wolves that murdered her son and two other children.
- Row: This movie has been out for quite a while now and, with the weather getting colder and colder, we decided it was the perfect time to finally see it.
- CO: Well that, and the fact that Saulnier’s Green Room was an exceptional movie we both loved and have been looking forward to see what would be next from him!
- ROW: Reactions to the movie have been all over the place: Some are positive, some are negative, and some are a mix of both; where do you stand on this movie?
- CO: I think that we both agree on this movie being a movie that needs to be seen twice (at least) in order to have the wanted experience; the true question is whether that first viewing warrants another one, and for me it does.
- ROW: Why?
- CO: Firstly, it’s a beautiful movie; I know it’s set in the Alaskan Wilderness and you have to screw up pretty bad to make that look bad, but they don’t and it’s a gorgeous movie to devour with your eyes…
- ROW: I love how the Alaskan Wilderness contrasts some of the more brutal and violent scenes, as well as provide us with the sense of foreboding isolation that sticks around for the whole movie.
- CO: And there’s that visceral shootout scene, some stuff shot in the desert…It’s all very well shot and directed from both a visual perspective and a performance perspective; Skarsgard and Keough are both on the same page in terms of their character’s moods and motivations, while Wright was a pretty great casting decision because he did a great job with his part.
- ROW: No arguments with you there; honestly, the technical aspects of this movie are great: I loved watching it, the acting and directing was spot on, the soundtrack was incredibly appropriate and fitting with the movie. My problem and the reason I don’t think it earns a second viewing is the story and how convoluted/weird it is; I don’t have a problem with those qualities, but there wasn’t enough there to make me want to see it again and form my own opinions and take on what the movie is about.
- CO: I disagree with that; I think the movie does let you know enough information to lure you in, but is ambiguous with other relevant stuff that allowed me to have a really good first experience with it and hopefully an even better second one!
- ROW: This is going to turn into a discussion on “what warrants a second viewing”, but I don’t think the information is enough to make me delve into the meaning of the movie. I can piece out what happened on a surface level, but I don’t think the movie even cares about the surface level of the story; it’s everything else that is hard to figure out and I get that it is a challenging movie, but it may have gone a bit too obscure for my liking.
- CO: But isn’t the fact that you understand that there’s more to uncover with the story enough to warrant a second viewing–especially since there are many things to like about the movie both technically and in the narrative, beyond the deeper layers of meaning and personal interpretation aspects?
- ROW: Perhaps with a different story that would be enough, but my problem with this one is that I don’t get what the overall theme is or where to look for it; [spoiler title=’light spoilers’ style=’default’ collapse_link=’true’]the wolves could be a metaphor for humans living in packs, hunting to survive, and killing their own to “strengthen the pack”, or as predators of nature[/spoiler]. Both interpretations work and that’s great, but since I can’t figure out the overall theme and message of the movie, I can’t formulate my own ‘hypothesis’ and then test it out with a second viewing.
- CO: I don’t agree with that; there’s enough information gained from the first viewing to figure out what remains to be figured out in the second and under which context to put it. [spoiler title=’mild spoilers’ style=’default’ collapse_link=’true’]For me, the common theme throughout the movie was parenting: Wolves eat their own cups to strengthen the pack, Core being a dad with a rough relationship with his daughter, Medora and Vermon Slone being grieving parents (and something else), alongside Cheeon who is also a grieving parent but he and his wife make different grieving decisions, Donald becoming a parent, etc.[/spoiler]
- ROW: And I got those aspects, but that’s still not enough to warrant another viewing of a two hour movie, especially considering the myriad of movies, games, and music I could and want to experience as well. For me, it simply didn’t intrigue me enough to start asking questions or look for something beyond what was presented.
- CO: I guess for me it did and by the end I had enough questions and reason to want another viewing; something about the themes or the way they were delivered didn’t click for you, but it certainly did for me. You want to move on, and I want a blanket to watch this movie again and get that great second viewing experience; as always you’re welcome to join in!