The most interesting thing about Marionette is the question it made me ask myself: if a generic movie is a functioning entry in its genre, should it receive a passing grade? I had just given Netflix’s bombastic blockbuster Red Notice a recommendation because of this same grading method. So, what’s preventing me from doing the same with Marionette?
Red Notice and Marionette couldn’t be more different. One’s a globetrotting action-comedy helmed by three movie stars, and the other is a slow burning, quiet thriller that could subtly double as a psychological horror. I liked the latter’s off-kilter central performance from In Bruges’ Thekla Reuten, the creepy atmosphere is effective, and I appreciated the assured vision by director/co-writer Elbert van Strien (adapting from their own short film). However, as compelling movies, Red Notice held the audience in mind whereas Marionette’s production seemed to forget people were going to be watching the film eventually.
The story drifts and circles the same block to build up a sense of haunting unease. Unfortunately, this approach becomes routine for the movie and, eventually, develops it into a predictable formula. Marionette is checking off all the boxes it needs to fulfil to tell its story about a troubled boy (Elijah Wolf) who can predict tragedies and his bewildered therapist (Reuten) who becomes gradually unhinged, but there’s no heart or enthusiasm in the movie’s storytelling; leaving the audience waiting to be surprised. When a surprise does arrive in the final third, it’s delivered in the same morose tone. Movie goers are only surprised because we almost miss it under its downbeat camouflage. When we do discover it, it’s welcomed with indifferent shrugs.
Marionette just isn’t interesting and that’s why, despite some individual strengths, I can’t recommend it.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie