A lavish high-society wedding unexpectedly turns into a class struggle that leads to a violent coup.
Mexican director Michel Franco’s latest movie is a provocative drama that imagines a class based uprising in Mexico in the not too distant future. It begins at the wedding of an upper class couple where the well-heeled guests are enjoying themselves, only tacitly acknowledging the growing unrest taking place in less affluent parts of the city and the country. This soon comes directly to their door when a group of rioters enter the premises, shortly after the bride to be Marianne (Naian Gonzalez Norvind) has left to help a former family employee. What follows is a chilling depiction of societal collapse as ‘New Order’ widens its scope to show how different groups and individuals react to the new order of the title.
‘New Order’ has a strong premise that builds on real world concerns about the growing gap between the haves and the have-not’s and I particularly liked the opening scenes at the wedding where simple interactions outline the vastly different lives lived even between the wedding guests and those who serve them. This is shown through subtle conversations, but more overtly through the character of Rolando, a former family employee who has returned to beg for money to pay for his wife’s operation – the different reactions from the family are particularly telling.
Unfortunately once we leave the wedding and all hell breaks loose, I think ‘New Order’ starts to lose sight of its characters as it attempts to tell a larger scale story encompassing the army, the rioting groups, and the upper class society that we were first introduced too. In this case it doubles down on the violence and nihilism/brutality, at the expense of the strong characterisation that started the film, and I think that distance removes any emotional attachment that we could have had to the narrative. On a macro level the way Franco depicts different groups reacting and jostling for power, particularly the army, is a sobering view of how events can spiral out of control and lead to consequences even worse than the assumed poor circumstances prior to the uprising.
‘New Order’ is a film with strong ideas and a strong opening, but the execution as the film goes on starts to falter as Franco tries to encompass far more than one 90 minute movie can handle, gradually sapping my investment in the story being told.
Directed By: Michel Franco
Starring: Naian Gonzalez Norvind, Diego Boneta, Mónica Del Carmen, Fernando Cuautle, Darío Yazbek, Eligio Meléndez, Roberto Medina, Patricia Bernal, Lisa Owen, Enrique Singer and Gustavo Sánchez Parra