• [The Daily] Venice 2017: Kate and Laura Mulleavy’s Woodshock

    By David Hudson


    “Apparently the word refers to an actual traumatic state caused by getting lost in a forest,” begins Jonathan Romney in Screen. “However, if the title Woodshock leads you to expect a horror movie about the results of bad acid at a 60s music festival, you’re not that far off in terms of the sheer disorientation induced by watching this unfocused headtrip of a psychological thriller. This is the film-making debut of Kate and Laura Mulleavy, fashion designers and creators of the Rodarte label, who previously made their mark in film with their costume work on Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan (they have a costume credit here too, alongside Christie Wittenborn). Woodshock might gain some commercial traction from Kirsten Dunst’s presence as the psychically unravelling protagonist, but otherwise it’s an ill-fitting, awkwardly stitched confection.”

    “Shot in Humboldt County’s redwood country, this undeniably somewhat picturesque film can be seen as a spectacular exercise in narrative withholding,” suggests Glenn Kenny at RogerEbert.com. “There’s a lot of shots of Dunst wandering around her character’s house in various states of undress, looking confused and irritated. There are some scenes at a bar, where the guy who runs the dispensary hangs out and gets very drunk and bangs on the jukebox, all of whose selections were likely filched from the collection of a former Mudd Club DJ. . . . But almost nothing ever happens, as a Feelies song that’s not on this film’s soundtrack puts it, and this is very frustrating. So one starts looking for meaning in other aspects of the film. Are the varied flower patterns on the wallpaper trying to tell us something? But you can only ask ‘what am I missing’ for so long until you conclude there really is not much ‘there’ there.”

    “With its layer upon layer of filters, lens flares, neon imprints, overlaid floral motifs and crystalline refractions, the film is as extravagantly embellished as one of their most gawp-worthy gowns,” offers Variety’s Guy Lodge. “Yet this sparse meditation on a legal cannabis dealer (Kirsten Dunst) sent into concentric spirals of trauma and hallucination by her mother’s death could desperately use some extra detailing at the level of character and psychology.”

    “The images are certainly beautifully captured by Finnish cinematographer Peter Flinckenberg (Concrete Night), whose woozy and occasionally honey-dipped or hazy camerawork is always atmospheric,” grants Boyd van Hoeij in the Hollywood Reporter. “The sets and props of production designer K. K. Barrett help to create a somewhat timeless feel, with not a modern car or cell phone in sight and with an ambient touch that’s clearly reminiscent of his earlier work with Spike Jonze and Sofia Coppola. But these contributions, combined with [the Mulleavys’] costumes, don’t really move the story forward or inward so much as just dress it up all pretty-like.”

    “One bright spot is Peter Raeburn’s shimmery score which is woozy electronica and diffuse drones marked with surprising bursts of harp,” grants Jessica Kiang at the Playlist. “But then filmmaking craft is not the issue here, it’s the timidity of the storytelling that sits in sharp contrast to the boldness of some of the visual and sonic experimentation.”

    Amy Larocca talks with Dunst and the Mulleavys for The Cut. “‘We’re all so emotionally interconnected,’ Kate explains.”

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1 comment

  • By Nick Inman
    September 05, 2017
    05:25 PM

    I saw the trailer for this a few months back and I thought it seemed absolutely incredible. When is it getting a wide release?