11th October 2018 4.15pm at Curzon Soho
13th October 2018 12.45pm at odeontcr: Odeon Tottenham Court Road
There seems to be a never-ending, impending sense of doom woven into the structure of a film titled Styx. The association with the ill-fated Greek mythological boundary that runs between Earth and Hades’s underworld can cast a shadow of darkness over the fate of our protagonist – particularly when the majority of their story arc is set out at sea – and yet director Wolfgang Fischer has craftily fashioned a more modern denotation to the word that ultimately questions the moral justifications and impurity of human nature.
In an escape from the fast-paced pressures of reality, you could be forgiven for wanting to flee to the vast corners of the world, where life can only gently nip at your heels as you traverse freely from one baron land of untouched beauty to another. This is certainly the primary aim of Rieke (Susanne Wolff), a German paramedic who decides to sail away from the urgencies and anxieties of her work in search of Charles Darwin’s floral-infested Ascension Island. A skilled sailor, the protagonist appears well-equipped and armed with experience as the coastline fades in the foreground, but as Rieke sets her aim she finds herself thrust onto a very different course than she originally anticipated, her ethical principles and personal responsibilities put to the test at the centre of a very current crisis.
The film’s opening act possesses little early dialogue, choosing to focus more on the visible social independence of Rieke and placing emphasis on the role of escapism as she begins sailing the waves, ultimately finding enough peace and tranquillity to swim naked in the ocean without a single judging eye upon her. This is a slow, meandering build-up to the eventual meat and substance of the plot, but one that is certainly worth the wait – no less thanks to the powerful performance from Susanne Wolff, who expertly portrays the strong sea-fairing adventurer with the heart and empathy required to make the later scenes of the movie so devastatingly commanding.
Vast cinematic shots of endless water engulf the screen as waves crash against the yacht, spraying all on board with a dense shower. Such an empty landscape does not make for easy filming, presenting a challenge for Fischer and his crew in the making of the feature, but nonetheless, the finished product is a smoothly executed, immersive venture in which the auditory and visual facets draw you in meritoriously. Styx will no doubt be one of the strongest German-Austro pieces of cinema produced in 2018.
Styx does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2018 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for Styx here: