6th October 2019 12.50pm at Vue West End
12th October 2019 8.45pm at Vue West End
A new Dutch psychological drama by Halina Reijn, Instinct is a nerve-jangling addition to this year’s London Film Festival lineup. Working as a psychologist in a penal institution, Nicoline (Carice van Houten) is very comfortable, confident in her ability to teach and help those in need of mental rehabilitation. That all changes when she comes across a new patient, Idris (Marwan Kenzari), a violent sexual offender who suffers bouts of aggression. Despite her vast experience and professionalism, Nicoline finds her work life turned on its head as she slowly but surely becomes infatuated with Idris, all the while aware that not only are her desires not allowed, but they place her in a seriously dangerous position.
Van Houten says goodbye to her Game of Thrones character, carrying the weight of this psychological thriller on her shoulders. And boy, is she sensational. A fabulously versatile actress, her talents are put to the test as she plays one of the most emotionally diverse roles of her career, but she makes the whole thing look effortless. Her onscreen partner Kenzari is fresh off the set of Disney’s 2019 live action remake of Aladdin, in which he played Jafar, but it is safe to say that this next role ascends from deeper in the fiery pits of hell than the Disney character. In Instinct, Kenzari plays one of the most passively intimidating individuals to ever appear on screen. Threatening to those around him, yet he is disturbingly vulnerable in his own way: something that sucks in Nicoline as she succumbs to his sexual prowess.
Instinct is an undeniably sensual experience, exploring lust, mental illness and sex. The two main characters are the primary object of these investigations, filling up large sections of the film with intense dialogue and on-edge movements. A restless bombardment of anticipation, Instinct suggests throughout that Nicoline is on a sharp downward spiral, shooting towards a catastrophic incident with Idris, but the viewer spends an uncomfortable amount of time asking why.
The ending also feels rushed after a quick progression to the third act, losing some of the nervous anxiety that filled the earlier scenes in place of a sudden conclusion. Instinct is a penetrating psychological experiment, but quite a two-dimensional one, and is simply wrapped up too quickly despite its brilliant lead performances.
Instinct does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for Instinct here: