Streets are stained with blood and green paint during award-winning writer-director Michel Franco’s latest feature, New Order, a violent near-future dystopian drama exploring the breakdown of society. Proving Franco’s most ambitious project to date, the Mexican-French film focuses on large-scale political questions, depicting class warfare and the military, and hints towards the emergence of totalitarianism. With arresting performances and striking imagery, New Order is a powerful piece, both impressive and anxiety-inducing.
The 88-minute long feature centres around a wealthy family and their employees’ experiences during a violent coup d’etat. Marking a distinct departure from Franco’s previous, more character-driven narratives, New Order makes a point of putting the intensity and spectacle of the chaos surrounding the protagonists front and centre. We see an extravagant wedding being overtaken by a violent uprising, the young bride-to-be, Marianne (Naian Gonzalez Norvind), suffering at the hands of the military, and a cruel political system exploiting the chaos to gain power. With an unrelentingly tense and harrowing atmosphere, the film is pointedly dark and successfully unnerving.
Norvind gives a tremendous performance as the female lead, expertly showing emotional turmoil and desperation as she tries to survive while waiting for a rescue. Viewed through a series of closeups, Norvind’s various pained and pleading facial expressions are gut-punching. New Order’s strong acting and striking choreographed scenes are very good at immersing us in a candid, often hard to watch picture of suffering at the hands of those in power. However, despite the captivating imagery and strong directorial vision, the film seems to lag, losing its intensity at points.
Despite this lapse in pacing, due to repetitive scenes and the occasional overindulgence in non-sequential shocking sequences, the film is still hard-hitting and, ultimately, a riveting watch. Franco unabashedly terrifies us with the depiction of a possible political future that doesn’t seem so far-fetched. New Order is a valuable and hard watch that will no doubt leave you squirming in your seat.
New Order is released in select cinemas on 13th August 2021.
Watch the trailer for New Order here: