DVD Review: Retreat [MA15] by Bea Harper

Dir: Lee Madsen
Starring: Cillian Murphy, Thandie Newton, Jamie Bell

The Film:
What is it with Cillian Murphy and dangerous narcotics/biohazardous material?

“Retreat” has a view to deliver as much intensity as it can allow and I am happy to report that it does this most admirably.
In my opinion, the economical approach to the film works in its’ favor because this isn’t about bombastic visual effects or over-the-top tomfoolery (I love that word), it’s about the people.

The initial premise of the film is startlingly simple – a married couple having so recently endured a personal tragedy decide to retreat to a private island in hopes of rekindling their waning relationship only to be interrupted by a dubious and perhaps slightly mentally unhinged young man who tells them the world has gone to Hell in a basket. While watching this movie, I was reminded of Philip Noyce’s “Dead Calm”, Richard C. O’Brien’s “Z For Zachariah” and Stephen King’s novella “Night Surf” but that is not to say “Retreat” is a mere retread of previous territory- it offers a very unique and dare I say, troubling scenario.

This movie could have easily gone off the rails because it is such a done-over concept and were it not in the capable hands of all of the talent involved, behind and in front of the camera, it would have sunk like the Titanic. “Retreat” is a tightly-wound tenuous string of a thriller that makes you care for the characters involved and makes you think about what you would possibly do in their position.

It goes without saying that much of film rests upon the shoulders of Thandie Newton, Cillian Murphy and Jamie Bell (who truly is getting better with every performance he does) and boy do all of them come through with all the colours of the rainbow. All three players do not permit their characters to become expendable to the audience- we get to know them, we come to know their reasons, and understand their motivations, however questionable they may be. Simply put, you can relate to them because they are human beings. Not constructs, not ciphers, but people- people you could know, people you could even relate to. Director Carl Tibbets not only knows his material, he also knows his actors

Apart from the brilliant acting and direction, this films LOOKS more high end than you’d expect, even if you didn’t know this was an indie. Tibbets and all of his technical wizards weave a constant state of bleak oppression and cruel intimacy on all accounts.

“Retreat” isn’t gonna win any high distinction awards, but don’t allow that to discourage you from checking it out- it is well worth your time and your emotional investment.

The Australian DVD:
The DVD reviewed was a screener, no comment can be made on Picture/Audio quality.


Review written by Bea Harper

You can order the DVD HERE, the Blu-ray HERE.

Thanks to Pinnacle Films for their help and support.

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