The Pitch: We’re nothing with out tales, and the characters in Sebastián Lelio’s The Surprise strongly imagine of their tales. That’s the message of the movie, and it’s a message that the film explicitly states to the viewers proper up high. (That message can be conveyed through an unorthodox strategy, one that’s clearly making A Level, although whether or not that Level lands is questionable.)
The Surprise’s story takes place in 1862 and follows an English nurse named Lib Wright (Florence Pugh) who is named to a small Irish village by a committee investigating a supposed miracle. The supposed miracle in query? An 11-year-old woman named Anna (Kíla Lord Cassidy) continues to be alive and properly despite the fact that she hasn’t eaten something besides “manna from Heaven” for 4 months.
Lib is there together with a nun to look at Anna and ensure she doesn’t eat any meals. And as Anna comes sicker and sicker, Lib works tougher to search out out the reality and persuade the deeply religious Irish neighborhood that except she eats, Anna goes to die.
A Smorgasbord of Metaphors: The Surprise is stuffed with metaphors and symbols and infrequently turns into slowed down by them. From Lib’s shiny blue gown à la Belle in Disney’s Magnificence and the Beast standing out in opposition to the deliberately dim Irish countryside, to quite a few characters telling Lib that “she doesn’t perceive” why the spiritual people round her do what they do, The Surprise has a message to inform us, darn it, and it beats that message into its viewers again and again (and over once more).
The movie additionally makes use of rituals that completely different characters comply with to additional emphasize that what we imagine is bolstered by our actions, even when these actions lead us to darkish locations, together with demise. Many — however not all — of those rituals stem from Catholicism and function additional commentary on how organized faith may cause somebody to fervently imagine issues that aren’t true, even when doing so harms them. It’s a message that’s clearly meant to connect with our present-day circumstances, and one that’s hammered house in virtually each sequence of the film.
Pugh’s efficiency here’s what brings The Surprise again from being too preachy to bear. Her character is an outsider on this small village and has her personal private struggles that make watching Anna’s scenario much more excruciating. Pugh deftly portrays Lib’s ardour, her sympathy, and her foibles with care, and you may’t assist however grow to be drawn into the story by means of her.