norfolk spoiler free movie review

Norfolk [2016] is the third feature from English director Martin Radich. Denis Menochet and Barry Keoghan play Man and Boy respectively, a father and son who live a simple life until a final assassination mission is assigned to the father that threatens to dismantle their relationship.

The Art of Lingering. Off the bat, Radich’s film throws some interesting photography at the viewer, but it ultimately slows and sits. Whether it’s a piece of landscape or the description of a man’s dream. The film likes to linger on moments, and these moments typically last just long enough for it to be noticed. The issue is the moments feel meaningless, or filled with nothing of importance. There’s this everlasting lingering throughout where we hold on something only to leave it and feel like nothing of worth came from staying there. Scene to scene the story unfolds without any energy or clarity. The viewer is forced to sit and wait, forced to linger when there’s nothing more that we want than to run to the next development.

Sound and fury. The sound and imagery on display are at times jarring and overwhelming. There are multiple moments where a scene’s sound builds and builds until it feels like you might burst. Sharp strings and intense notes are thrown at the viewer to add a certain something to the action on screen. The problem is the image is lifeless in comparison. The score does not compliment the video, and what’s happening on screen is confusing and almost silly on its own, let alone with such powerful audio backing it. There are also multiple shots that are either doctored in a way to look like or are straight up shot with, digital video cameras from however many years ago. The opening credits, along with a few select (and very insignificant) shots look like home video footage from thirty years ago. These are intercut with the HD footage as if it’s a normal edit. It adds nothing, except to make the viewer noticeably shake their head in confusion and frustration.

Shallow Depths. The worst thing of note for the whole production is how sparse it feels.  There’s a story, and it very well may be interesting, but it’s told in the most uninteresting way. It feels like nothing is happening because the progress is buried under those lingering moments filled with sound and confusion. It feels like the filmmaker believes that the more vague things can be the larger the content will be perceived. What’s happening is an attempt at depth by way of keeping things shallow. That does not work. When things are left loose the audience wants to search every corner for more information. When that information isn’t there, the audience calls bullshit and finds that even what’s being shown doesn’t amount to much. It’s just frustrating and exhausting, two words that should never define the process of watching a film.

Brooding and arty, but lacking meaningful substance.
Norfolk has an interesting premise told in a most uninteresting and shallow way.