Club Zero – first-look review

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Jessica Hausner's play astir a coach who originates a troubling fare nine astatine an elite precocious schoolhouse is simply a poorly-judged slog to beryllium through.

In 2009 Jessica Hausner presented Lourdes astatine nan Venice Film Festival – a movie astir nan French municipality which has go a revered show of visit for galore Catholics aft visions of nan Virgin Mary supposedly appeared successful 1858. For what it’s worth, my Catholic precocious schoolhouse ran an yearly travel location for nan much devout students. I ne'er went. It seems adjacent to propose Hausner has returned to nan overarching taxable of religion successful her sixth feature, albeit pinch nan funny allegorical framing of a disordered eating nine which is formed astatine an elite precocious school, wherever caller coach Miss Novak (Mia Wasikowska) is installed to thatch nan pupils astir “conscious eating”.

While Novak claims nan believe of conscious eating has myriad benefits – including reducing c emissions, improving wide health, and kickstarting nan assemblage into auto-cleansing – nan reality is that her students are being encouraged to restrict their diet, yet to nan constituent they cannot eat astatine all. A mates of pupils quickly front out, but 5 instrumentality around: Ragna (Florence Baker) wants to beryllium amended astatine trampoline, and her parents person already encouraged her to eat less; Elsa (Ksenia Devriendt) is inspired by her mother’s ain eating disorder; Fred (Luke Barker) is simply a promising dancer whose absent parents find him perpetually disappointing, and Ben (Samuel D Anderson) tin get other in installments by attending nan class, which he needs for his scholarship.

This group are susceptible to Novak’s preaching, which frames not eating arsenic a power issue. She tells them yet they will scope a constituent wherever they nary longer request to eat astatine all, thereby becoming a portion of ‘Club Zero’. For immoderate reason, nan different adults and students successful their orbit look ambivalent, hardly noticing nan shrinking quality of nan already bladed group, who commencement to look gaunt and jaundiced.

Perhaps Hausner intends for Club Zero to beryllium a remark connected nan susceptibility of young, susceptible group into cults, whereby vulnerable behaviour is nan admittance costs of emotion for illustration they belong. Or possibly nan movie is different mediation connected religion – we spot Novak praying to a mini shrine, mumbling connected astir her mission, and nan last enactment implies a benignant of ascension for nan students that genuinely perpetrate to starvation. It’s a clumsy metaphor though, not slightest because bladed has ever been in, and it’s somewhat telling that each nan students are already slim to statesman with, which insidiously reenforces nan thought that only bladed group tin person eating disorders – a proposal which further stigmatises fat people. Here, thinness is adjacent to Godliness.

Most insulting of each is nan proposal that nan kinship these students find successful their coach – who besides hints astatine a beingness attraction to Fred – yet brings them nan happiness they truthful crave, freeing them from their concerned parents. Novak is simply a benignant of pied piper, starring nan teenagers to ruin, though her motivations stay unclear moreover astatine nan film’s close. While it would beryllium unfair to propose Hausner is condoning Novak’s actions, location is simply a benignant of nihilistic glibness astir nan movie which leaves a sour taste. Teamed pinch nan film’s distracting, over-the-top sound creation and a gaggle of performances that sprout for nan stylised stuntedness of Yorgos Lanthimos and ne'er scope those heights, Club Zero fails to connection thing that its predecessors didn’t supply successful much succinct and thoughtful ways.

Published 23 May 2023

Tags: Jessica Hausner

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