THE OFFERING (REVIEW)
Dir. Ventura Durall
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
THE OFFERING is a strange film and one that certainly will not appeal to those looking for hardened thrills and terror but for those who like their films surrounded in ambiguity and deeper thoughts, there's something to really be impressed with Ventura Durall's feature.
Psychologist Violeta (Anna Alarcón) is introduced to a new client, Rita (Verónica Echegui), who in confidence reveals that her husband Jan (Alex Brendemühl) is still obsessed with a previous relationship from 20 years prior. It soon transpires that Violeta knows of Jan as it is she he professes over.
The films story is the rekindling of this relationship and the world around them trying to remain in tact despite these two damaged personalities fighting in different directions. Jan's obsessive and disturbing loneliness is portrayed subtly in flash backs whereas Violeta is seen reducing herself in fear at a ghost she didn't expect to see.
Throughout the duration of the Catalan film, there is sense of dread and something coming undone not at the mercy of the leads but bigger forces at play. Rita's chaotic ambience is nurtured into Violeta's life and yet despite her playing the pawns for Jan's games, she is as lost a soul as Violeta and as a result it's hard not to feel that everyone within THE OFFERING is a casualty, not of love, but of Jan's bittersweet charisma that lures in these girls to ultimately end with him making his most selfish of sacrifices. The beauty of love is it brings people together yet also tears us apart. Scenes are graphic yet never feel out of place with the eroticism not being for gratification but indeed adding further damage to those involved, there's a cold ambiguous tone to the film that is matched by the pastel European cinematography grabbing the cast with only the occasional pop of colour, whether that be a false bravado masked in a red kimono or wine at a dinner party that is as cold as the reception of a husband and ex can be. Those who have an eye for European cinema will feel at home here but there are no means to be happy.
The cast really do carry enough of an ambiguous script that is never made to be the point. The troubled expressions etched across their faces show a million emotions and as a result this is a much a theatrical piece as a film. There are no boundaries to commitment to these roles as the central leads can show but it makes the film feel real, rather than dirty. THE OFFERING won't break waves however for fans of Brian DePalma and European cinema will find something to really endure here. Elements of DePalma's PASSION and OBSESSION with Olivier Assayas' PERSONAL SHOPPER can be seen through the cracks and that's not a bad thing as sometimes subtlety is bolder. The film won't get under your skin but it will stay with you for some time.
There is death but no real cause other than the selfish nature of it and police chases with no trigger, across the 110 minute runtime not a lot truly happens however worlds are changed and it's a constant build up of fear that real life and the past bring with them. As a result of which THE OFFERING is less about the horror of cinema and more about the horror of life and the truth that events and occasions happen sometimes without meaning. A brilliantly shot tragedy in it's truest, most artistic form.