It was four months ago or mid September 2020 when I saw Michel Franco‘s New Order, a dystopian theatre-of-cruelty film that reminded me in some ways (certainly tonally) of Ridley Scott‘s The Counselor.
Neon has acquired it for distribution, but they haven’t announced a release date. I know nothing but I’m guessing they’ll be holding it until the fall. I don’t think it’ll matter when it opens for this is a brilliant but absolutely dead-cold film — a certain segment of the public is going to turn away in horror while the cineastes will show respect.
From my 9.14.20 review: Set in Mexico City, it’s about a violent revolution against the wealthy elites by an army of ruthless, homicidal, working-class lefties. Director-writer Franco (After Luca, Chronic) is clearly tapping into all the insurrectionist anger out there (last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests, the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement, last year’s French Yellow Vest demonstrations) and imagining the ante being raised a couple of notches.
Remember those rightwing thugs (“Los Halcones”) murdering leftists during that Mexico City demonstration in Roma? New Order is a roughly similar situation but with the lefties pulling the trigger, and with a lot more ferocity. Rage against the swells.
It struck me as a nightmare vision of what could conceivably happen if the ranks of our own wokester shitheads were to dramatically increase and anger levels were to surge even more.
New Order, trust me, is brutal, vicious and ice cold. But it’s so well made, and so unsparing in its cruelty. Franco is definitely the new Michael Haneke. He’s a very commanding and exacting director, but the film is ferocious and vicious, more so than even The Counselor (and that’s saying something).
I’m figuring that any serious fan of The Counselor would definitely be down with New Order. Especially given its Mexico City location, the fact that it deals with hostage-taking and exorbitant demands, and the fact that it has the same kind of cruel, compositional decisiveness and clarity of mind that Scott’s film had, only more so.
Franco is a very strong but, on the face of it, heartless director. Personally, I’m sure he’s personable and affable and humane and whatnot.
A filmmaker friend assures that Franco “is a nice fellow…he has a very surgical mind and his dramatic construction seems to veer towards the inexorable.”
Variety‘s Peter Debruge: New Order is “a full-on assault on our collective comfort zone while doubling down on the very thing that makes his films unwatchable for so many. Moviegoing is, by its nature, an act of empathy, as we invest in the lives of fictional strangers, trusting the narrative to repay our emotional commitment — and yet, in film after film, Franco challenges that assumption. Perversely, for those who’ve now come to expect that from him, New Order doesn’t disappoint.”