AFRIFF REVIEWS: Rattlesnakes
Photo by Michael Moriatis

AFRIFF REVIEWS: Rattlesnakes

The film is based on Graham Farrow’s acclaimed stage play of the same title and written and directed by Ghanian-British director, Julius Amedume. It won the Best Film by an African Living Abroad at the 2019 Africa Movie Academy Award, and it is easy to see why.

Throughout its 85 minutes runtime, Rattlesnakes woos its viewers with enchanting dreamscapes and an ominous score.

The film is brilliantly suspenseful; there is a constant feeling that something bad is imminent, but it is impossible to envision it.

The story follows Robert McQueen, a family man with money issues (he has a three-day eviction notice on his door). He is a licensed yoga therapist with an exclusively women clientele; he helps them with their relationship, spiritual, and emotional problems. The husbands of his main clients—Lizzy, Esther, and Susan—suspect he is sleeping with their wives, an accusation he vehemently denies when they take him hostage and torture him for answers.

He insists he’s helping fix their marriages, not destroy them. To prove his honesty and end the torture, he reveals secrets about himself, the husbands, and their wives. All three men quickly learn they have more problems uniting them than McQueen’s supposed romp with their wives. (The reveals melts away the neo-noir vibes of the film for some psychological thrill.) And what’s supposed to be the husbands’ night of vengeance turns out their worst nightmare.

The film is based on Graham Farrow’s acclaimed stage play of the same title and written and directed by Ghanian-British director, Julius Amedume. It won the Best Film by an African Living Abroad at the 2019 Africa Movie Academy Award, and it is easy to see why.

Amedume assembles a brilliant cast that enlivens his otherwise bland character-driven screenplay, which doesn’t give his characters much depth (the film could do with more minutes dedicated to the wives).
Rattlesnakes merges the aesthetics and tropes of neo-noir with the psychological thriller subgenre; creating the perfect atmosphere for its cynical plot and delusional characters.

The main players are sketchy—no one is truly good or bad—they all seem to have distrustful motives. The music by Seymour and Paul Pringle is beautifully sinister.

And while the picture is generally stunning, cinematographer Tommy Maddox-Upshaws achieves uniqueness with dreamy flashback scenes presented in slow-mo shots.

Rattlesnakes is showing at the 2019 AFRIFF and is scheduled to screen on Wednesday, 13th November, 2019.
Time: 8pm
Filmhouse Landmark, Screen 4.

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