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Class Conflict Taken to the Extreme: A TIFF Review of ‘New Order’

September 14, 2020Ben MK

Whether the setting is the not-too-distant future of Snowpiercer or the 1970s luxury towers in High-Rise, filmmakers have long favored tales of class conflict. And with the dystopian thriller New Order, writer-director Michel Franco offers his take on the topic, in this story about a woman from an affluent family who finds herself caught in the middle of a violent uprising.

Set in near-future Mexico City, where the gulf separating the elite upper class and the disenfranchised lower class is vast, the film follows Marianne Novelo (Naián González Norvino), a new bride celebrating her wedding day at her parents' lavish home in the upscale neighborhood of Pedregal. Unbeknownst to her and her architect husband, Alan (Dario Yazbek), however, there's a revolt unfolding on the city's streets. And when the chaotic outbreak of looting, vandalism and murder spills over the high walls surrounding her family's mansion. it sets into motion a series of brutal awakenings and even more brutal events — ones that even Marianne might not survive.

Like other movies dealing with class struggle, the result draws attention to real-life imbalances in the distribution of wealth and power. What sets New Order apart, however, is how Franco chooses to do so; not with mere allegorical imagery, but with a storm of blood and fury — not to mention a whole lot of green paint.

New Order screens under the Contemporary World Cinema programme at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 26 min.

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