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Fantasia Festival Review: ‘The Columnist’

August 24, 2020Ben MK

What is freedom of speech if not the ability to say whatever is on our minds? But what about when our own opinions begin to infringe on and conflict with the opinions of others — how far is too far? And to what extent should one person go to defend their own right to free speech?

These are some of the driving themes behind The Columnist, a thriller that centers on a woman named Femke Boot (Westworld and Evil's Katja Herbers), a columnist, author and single mother struggling to overcome the negative online reactions her work seems to consistently incite. One day, however, Femke decides to do something about these Internet trolls, taking matters into her own hands by personally seeing that they pay the ultimate price. But when she becomes obsessed with doling out her own particular brand of vengeance, will she be able to stop before she hurts the ones closest to her? Or will she become the epitome of the very notion she despises?

Directed by Ivo Van Aart, the result is both biting and bloody, not to mention astoundingly resonant. Darkly humorous and disturbingly poignant, The Columnist is a reminder that the pen is not always mightier than the sword — or, in this case, a shotgun.

The Columnist makes its North American premiere at the 2020 Fantasia International Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 24 min.

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