Edinburgh International Film Festival 2013: the best thrillers

Edinburgh International Film Festival 2013: the best thrillers

Juno Temple in Magic Magic

Magic Magic, Upstream Color and Il Futuro among our top picks for festival thrills

Magic Magic

Director Sebastian Silva returns for his fifth feature film with Magic Magic, a psychological thriller set in his native land of Chile. All the elements for a gripping film are aligned: a young shy foreign woman sets out to spend holidays in a remote hideaway with a group of people she barely knows. Michael Cera abandons his usual comic persona to play a dark and unsettling sadist whilst Juno Temple (who starred in last year's opening film Killer Joe) switches from deeply perplexing to captivating as she slowly looses her sense of reality.

Upstream Color

Nine years after his acclaimed film Primer, Shane Carruth brings us a philosophical love story, toying with our sense of temporality. Office worker Kris (Amy Seimetz) is subjected to a strange operation after being kidnapped and drugged. As she slowly loses her mind she connects with a man who may have been subject to the same experience, Jeff (Carruth). The two attempt to discover what has happened to them as they lose their sense of reality.

Traffic Department

There is not much doubt that in cinema, dirty cops outnumber good cops, but what happens when a police department is solely composed of corrupt policemen as it is the case in Warsaw’s police traffic department? Wojtek Smarzowski’s latest film follows the endeavours of Sergeant Krol (Bartlomiej Topa), accused of the murder of a colleague. Believing that he has been framed but unsure due to a night of excessive drinking he has taken part in, the traffic warden must go on the run and solve the crime before he is apprehended. This fast paced thriller uses inventive camerawork and extremely quick editing which accentuates the policeman’s sense of loss and struggle.

Il Futuro

Part heist movie, part coming of age drama, part existential analysis of the impact of loneliness, award winning director Alicia Scherson presents Il Futuro, a film adaptation of Roberto Bolano’s cult Chilean novel Una Novelita Lumpen. Two orphaned siblings, Bianca (Manuela Martelli) and Tomas (Luigi Ciardo), attempt to put their lives back on track when two body-builders, befriended by Tomas, move into their flat. At first helpful, the new roommates pressure Bianca to become the paid mistress of an ex-film star (Rutger Hauer), so that she can discover where the recluse man hides his fortune. The young woman soon realises that ‘El Maciste’ is blind and she begins to care for the ageing man. The relationship which results from this unexpected situation carries us into a modern interpretation of ‘the beauty and the beast’ and will finally shed light on two darkened beings.

The East
Zal Batmanglij’s latest feature takes us into the world of a radical eco-activist group known as the East, a group bent on making corporate America pay for its crimes against the environment and public health. Sarah (Brit Marling), an agent in a security firm, is on a mission to infiltrate the radical group; however as time goes by the line between duty and morality becomes fuzzy. Drawing inspiration from 1960s and 1970s environment protection movements, Batmanglij does not fall into the trap of an eco friendly vs fat cat conflict but rather portrays the reasons that would lead people to extreme actions within a cult-like organisation, and how a cause can become a dangerous obsession.

Edinburgh International Film Festival

The oldest continually running film festival in the world, the EIFF draws on its prestige to consistently present abundant programmes of new features, documentaries, retrospectives, shorts, panel discussions and educational workshops, with a few high profile premieres thrown in for good measure.

Il Futuro (The Future)

  • 2013
  • Italy / Chile / Germany / Spain
  • 1h 34min
  • Directed by: Alicia Scherson
  • Written by: Roberto Bolaño, Alicia Scherson
  • Cast: Manuela Martelli, Rutger Hauer, Luigi Ciardo

Planning to rob a reclusive, blind millionaire, a girl becomes intimately involved with her target. Featuring spellbinding central performances from Manuela Martelli and Rutger Hauer, Director/screenwriter Alicia Scherson's moving story of trust, intimacy and self-discovery is steeped in beauty and poignancy; the ever…

Magic Magic

  • 4 stars
  • 2013
  • Chile / US
  • 1h 37min
  • Directed by: Sebastián Silva
  • Cast: Michael Cera, Juno Temple, Emily Browning
  • UK release: 18 April 2014

A naive young tourist's road trip across Chile with friends turns into a waking nightmare.

The East

  • 3 stars
  • 2013
  • US / UK
  • 1h 56min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Zal Batmanglij
  • Cast: Brit Marling, Alexander Skarsgård, Ellen Page
  • UK release: 28 June 2013

A spy is sent in to infiltrate a group of eco-terrorists. However, when she falls for the group's charismatic leader she finds her loyalties tested.

Traffic Department (Drogówka)

  • 2013
  • Poland
  • 1h 58min
  • Directed by: Wojciech Smarzowski
  • Cast: Bartlomiej Topa, Arkadiusz Jakubik, Julia Kijowska

A workplace lifestyle of daily debauchery is disrupted by murder. In a police department where alcohol, drugs, sex and bribery are the norm, one policeman doesn’t know where to turn when he is falsely accused of murdering a fellow officer. Lightning fast editing crams enough plot developments to fill a mini series into a…

Upstream Colour

  • 4 stars
  • 2013
  • US
  • 1h 36min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Shane Carruth
  • Cast: Amy Seimetz, Shane Carruth, Andrew Sensenig
  • UK release: 30 August 2013

A woman is kidnapped, operated on and then released, whereupon she meets a man who may have been subject to the same treatment. Writer/director/actor Shane Carruth's follow-up to Primer is a baffling slice of sci-fi.