Agonie (2016) [Fantasia International Film Festival]

agonieA law student starts a fling with another student.  A young ex-military trains to become stronger.  The law student works out his bedroom kinks with his girl in increasingly violent ways.  The ex-military discovers a potential new side to himself that he has difficulty accepting.  Both lash out in violent ways, one going to an unexpected extreme. David Clay Diaz creates an almost sober drama with his script writing and direction.  The film shows the lives of two early twenties men and how their lives evolve.  Both of their stories evolve slowly throughout most of the film until each of their story’s end when things take a turn with acts of violence changing everything for both of them.

Both stories are strong character studies of two very different men.  The calm and control of the first, his disconnect from most of society, lead him to being able to do despicable acts without anyone expecting it or knowing why.  The second is more volatile but also more involved with others, he has a short temper that leads him to bad decisions and violence, but for him it’s anything but cold, he is more connected to his surroundings, creating a much different character.  This dichotomy of types and style is artfully contrasted in how David Clay Diaz represents each of their lives, their surroundings, their families, and the characters themselves.

As both stories are contrasted, each has its lead character.  The law student, Christian, is played by Samuel Schneider who plays charming with a very cold side, like a calculated man who knows when to be charming but who gets satisfaction from inflicting pain of increasing intensity.  As the film goes by, his shows an increasing to complete disconnect with society, very little bring a reaction out of him.  The performance by Schneider reflects this perfectly.  Playing the other lead of Alex is Alexander Srtschin bringing a nervous, twitchy energy to his scenes, even the calmer ones to some extent.  He shows his characters inner turmoil without saying a word.  Both of them show talent and how great casting can make all the difference.

The film’s story is slow and dark, so the cinematography by Julian Krubasik matches this.  His framing showcases the grey weather, the coldness of the stories and of life.  His style fits the film and its characters, showing everything as it is, no sugar-coating, no adding any hope with happy images.

Agonie is a very cold drama with little emotions from the characters besides various forms of anger and indifference.  The little bit of love that is shown is quickly snuffed out.  According to the director’s IMDB page, his next movie is one titled Agony to come out in 2016, which sounds a lot like a remake, so see the original first if you can.

Fantasia International Film Festival ran from July 14th until August 3rd, 2016 and will be back in the summer of 2017.