BLOODY ORANGES (2021)
If there was an award for most demented film at Fantastic Fest, BLOODY ORANGES would be a shoo-in. While much has been said about two other high-profile, very shocking films that premiered at Cannes (TITANE and BENEDETTA), BLOODY ORANGES somehow managed to fly under the radar, despite being chock full of wild, memorable scenes that will burn themselves into your brain. A satirical look at French society, the film starts out innocently enough: an elderly couple enters a dance competition to earn extra money for bills, not wanting to be a burden to their children. It goes quickly off the rails from there as we are introduced to the rest of the characters: a corrupt politician, an insecure lawyer obsessed with social status, and a teenager eager to lose her virginity. Playing like a Christopher Guest movie hijacked by Ari Aster, BLOODY ORANGES is full of acerbic, pitch-black humor and eye-watering scenes of violence.
Director Jean-Christophe Meurisse has crafted an unforgettable cast of characters, seemingly intent on having them outdo each other in increasingly vile ways. Just when you think the film can’t go any further, it does, taking you to surprising, absurd, and completely unexpected places. A rape-revenge subplot in particular has to be commended for going completely balls to the wall (and climaxes with what just might be my favorite scene of the fest). However, the shocks do serve a higher purpose since the film functions as cutting social commentary where survival is the name of the game, people will go to any lengths to protect their self-interests, and the capacity for evil is lurking right below the surface of us all, ready to explode. (LISA DREYER)