TIFF 2012: Fin (The End) – Jorge Torregrossa

 

This is one film I wanted to see just based on the brief description provided when it was first announced, and I’m so excited that I got to see it so close to the start of my festival.  Intrigued by its mysterious premise, my mind automatically started trying to come up with theories as to what would happen throughout the course of the film, and why.  I was delighted, however, to find that the tale unfolded like little else I’ve seen before, and managed to surprise me several times along the way.

The film opens on some vague shots of a scruffy-lookin’ man sketching as quickly as he can various images of darkness and perhaps disaster.  It’s hard to tell, really, but there are horns and eyes and shadows…demons maybe?  The guy looks a little crazy, anyway, and we follow this odd stranger to a train station, where he stands on a platform and stares down a certain passenger as he disembarks the train that has just pulled in.  Scruffy stranger approaches disembarking passenger and awkwardly says hi, but the passenger pushes past him without a word and when he turns back, the scruffy stranger has disappeared.

From there, we follow the passenger, Felix (Daniel Grao) as he reunites with an old group of high school friends who haven’t seen one another in years.  They gather together in a mountain cabin, and quickly pick up where they left off, sharing laughter and memories with one another, as well as their respective spouses and partners.  But behind the smiles lurks something darker, and its not long before arguments break out and the tensions reach a more fevered pitch.  Talk turns to the only member of the group who didn’t show up for the reunion – the one they called The Prophet.  Because of something they’d done to him when they were young, he’d spent some time in a mental institution, and it turns out that he was the architect of their reunion weekend.  He’s also the only one who hasn’t arrived.

All of a sudden, a roar from the sky pierces the darkness, and all of the power goes out.  Not just the lights, but everything – clocks and watches all stop, cars won’t run, and the only sound breaking the surrounding silence is that of barking dogs and other wildlife in the forest.  The group heads to bed soon after, intending to sleep it off and resume a sense of normalcy in the morning.  But when the sun rises, the power is still out, clocks and watches are still not running, and vehicles still won’t start.  In addition, one of their members has vanished overnight.

The group sets out on foot to look for him and to seek help, and what they encounter along the way only adds to the mystery.  One by one, they each must find a way to confront their own fears and demons while facing their own truths about who they are and what they’ve done.  The strange blackout stretches further than any of them thought possible, and the struggle to survive becomes increasingly difficult as the group dwindles and the mystery behind the blackout deepens.

One thing that struck me most about this film was the sense of extreme isolation and loneliness that it explores.  Even when part of a group, that feeling of being alone doesn’t always go away, especially when you realize that you have absolutely no control over your own fate or survival.  As the friends become more and more frightened, they begin to separate, rather than draw closer together.  While in one sense, the danger and mystery seems to be closing in around them, in another, it’s like the world is stretching out away from them, and leaving them all the more alone as a result.

When watching films like this, or reading books, etc, one often envisions themselves in a similar circumstance, and we try to figure out what we would do in their place, even as we try to understand what’s happening.  For me, that feeling struck home when one character mentioned having a cat at home, and being worried about whether or not it was okay.  Like her, I also live alone but for my two cats, and I suddenly didn’t care much about how I would react to being in a similar situation as what the film was presenting – suddenly I, too, only wondered what would happen to my cats.  In this scenario, animals don’t seem to be affected only people.  So how long would my kitties last if I didn’t return home?  What if none of us did?

There were a couple of small questions or problems I had with the plot of the movie, but they were pretty insignificant when compared with how it was making me think and feel, and none of it really took me out of the experience while it was happening.  Torregrossa deftly dials up the tension even as the silence surrounding the group grows.  I remained completely caught up in the mystery of what was happening, and the impending sense of lonely isolation it brought with it.  This film gave me quite a lot to think about, actually.  You see, Fin (The End) is not a story about the end of the world, as I had previously believed.  It is, instead, a story about the end of us.

Fin (The End) is screening as part of the Toronto International Film Festival Monday, September 10, 2012 at 3:00pm and Sunday, September 16, 2012 at 9:15pm.  you can check out the trailer here.

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