Magpie (2024)

Magpie Review


How is Annette doing? The Daisy Ridley character in “Magpie,” a severely disturbed British mother of two, has just gotten a severe angular chop of a haircut that could easily be the height of chic (very Isabella Rossellini). Except the movie uses it as an emblem of her trauma, like Mia Farrow’s iconic Vidal Sassoon cut in “Rosemary’s Baby.” On some serious meds, she stares at herself in a mirror until it shatters. Does she have telekinetic powers? No, she broke it with her hand (which bleeds into the sink), but you feel the force of her repressed rage. Ben (Shazad Latif), her British Indian husband, is a celebrated writer; every word she says about his work is a put-down. She speaks in short, clipped, “civilized” phrases. At one point a bird crashes into the window of her house. The whole film throbs with her cold anger.

Annette is suffering from something deep but not an illness, it’s baby blues times 10 or times 1000. It’s those blue feelings so many mothers get when they’re raising young children and feel alone, isolated maybe abandoned. As we come to discover, Ben committed a primal sin: After their son Lucas was born he went away for months to research a book without realizing how much Annette needed him. He put all the responsibility on her; she was never the same after he came back.

The complex and even traumatized undercurrent that some mothers go through isn’t just good for movies; it’s great material for them long overdue too. But “Magpie” gives us Annette in such extreme terms that you might find yourself thinking: I can’t deal with this (or any more movies about people who are). Most of us don’t blink at cinematic real-estate porn anymore we love it! but the house that Annette and Ben have in the country outside London is so huge it’s like a museum with bedrooms. When Annette has lunch with a former colleague, the stiltedness of their connection (and the sound of Lucas crying in the restaurant) makes every moment feel awkward. Then comes the plot. Annette and Ben’s daughter Matilda (Hiba Ahmed), who’s around 8, has been cast in a big-budget costume drama, where she’s playing the daughter of an essential character, portrayed by a glamorous Italian movie star named Alicia (Matilda Lutz).

Ben is chaperoning Matilda on set; we’re cued from minute one to see that he and Alicia have a connection, and that he’s pursuing her with single-minded creepiness. In case we miss it, a tabloid website posts a paparazzi shot of them together as if they’re dating and it’s only day two of shooting. Much of “Magpie” feels overstated this way. The film shows us Ben getting interested from watching a celebrity sex tape of Alicia. But did it have to make him masturbate to it in the shower while Annette listens through the door? As Ben and Alicia start developing a mutual crush, all my thinking was. The vibe you seem to be going for here is gloomy indie “Fatal Attraction.” And my thought was: “Fatal Attraction” was more subtle than this movie.

However, as “Magpie” develops, something strange occurs. You start to get used to its over-evident manner as well as mixture of simple and mysterious. It is not Hitchcock or Adrian Lyne indeed and Sam Yates a first-time director does not hide this fact. Tom Bateman provides him with an ordinary script which he then spices up with some atmosphere but the feature’s staging is quite primitive anyway. The film should be continued watching because there are some things you would like to see more than Daisy Ridley knows that too since it was her idea in the first place. She does something daring by making Annette very brittle and “unreasonable” from Ben’s point of view only being classic gaslighter he cannot understand what’s wrong with him being such: his self-righteousness, ignorance about mothers’ real problems all these things make Alicia’s attention seem so flattering. They start texting each other flirtatiously at first but then more passionately He believes that now he has found a key out of his boredom However what happens next is beyond his wildest dreams And ours too.

Ben is acted by Shazad Latif whose tall good looks combined with gentle smile man-bun hairstyle create an impression of someone who tries hard to be caring so believes that should get everything he wants But this opinion naive In terms used within movie itself toxic masculinity indeed describes him perfectly well nevertheless “Magpie” doesn’t lecture us about it Thriller is still just thriller even if many scenes appear like they were taken straight from manual on how write screenplays and despite this fact story reaches unexpectedly satisfying culmination It reminds one those films having twist ending such as “Usual Suspects”/ ”Saltburn” where you need accept only-in-films logic behind them all right? Well when twist comes there cannot help feeling thrilled by it Everybody likes games especially mothers who never have enough love

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