Tuesday, August 2

Fantasia International Film Festival Compulsus Review


Written/Directed by Tara Thorne

Fantasia International Film Festival

Sadly, it’s time to close the curtain on Fantasia International Film Festival 2022. But not without one last film review! And this film, COMPULSUS, was a powerful closer for my screenings.

COMPULSUS is currently being dubbed “the queer PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN” but while on the surface it’s any easy comparison (and one Tara Thorne has embraced), COMPULSUS is a very different story of #MeToo vigilantism.

We are introduced to our protagonist, Wally, at a poetry reading. She is reading aloud her latest work, under bright technicolor lighting, and you can tell she’s on the precipice of something big. 

She wraps up and enjoys some beer with her platonic girlfriends where they start to talk about their love lives, frustrations over men and their behavior, and a hot restaurateur in town who has garnered a reputation for sexual abuse.

Next time we see Wally, she is arguing with her sister over the phone – who is clearly giving off vibes of abuse by her husband. Wally is blind to the signs as she her mind quickly gets preoccupied with her new love interest, Lou, a woman who is fearful of being consumed by Wally.

In fact, after one date, Lou breaks things off only to run into Wally as she takes down a man in the street for being a known rapist. Lou tells her to finish him off and they begin a campaign together to take down all bad men.

For Wally, she never had anything happen to her but she feels compelled to do something. Lou wants to help but also keep Wally safe from the law and consequences.

By the time we hit the third act of the film, Wally delivers one the of most profound poems that hits the mark on how many women are feeling in today’s world. And we continue on a roller coaster ride until the climax and final poem is performed by breaking the fourth wall and is delivered by the full all-women cast.

The writing of this film was extremely well thought out and felt very personal. Between the poems written by Sue Goyette and the genuine lines of fury, frustration, care and love from all the female characters and then the common, unsolicited lines from the men, you feel a part of this film. It’s so real. 

And my personal favorite trait of this film – and the main way it stands out from PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN – Thorne deliberately bleeped out all the men’s names and you never any of the men’s faces. You only hear their unwanted advances and see their jean jacket/hoody combo – mostly from the back.

She took away the opportunity for the audience to develop any compassion for the men in this film.

Much like how the patriarchy has continually taken away from women and erased them.

This is a deep take on the #MeToo movement and I hope it get legs and walks all over the men holding women back from telling stories like this.

4.0 out of 5.0

The festival may be over but I have some interviews coming soon, including a  Q&A with director Tara Thorne!

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