Fantasia Review: LET ME MAKE YOU A MARTYR

LMMYAMThis year’s 20th anniversary edition of the Fantasia Film Festival has been hitting home runs, left and right, with films like THE ALCHEMIST COOKBOOK, SLASH and now Corey Asraf and John Swab’s LET ME MAKE YOU A MARTYR. A southern noir thriller, as dirty and grimy as it gets, the film really goes for the jugular, offering viewers a one of a kind of film that truly shows how subtlety and the idea of the quiet sky can be just as intense and frightening as a loud scream.

Told in a non-linear fashion, LET ME MAKE YOU A MARTYR follows Drew Glass (Niko Nicotera), a young man being questioned about situations that we as viewers haven’t seen yet, so as the story goes on and we learn and discover all of the puzzle pieces, we in turn learn about Drew, his quest for vengeance and to escape with his adopted sibling/lover June (Sam Quartin), a heroin addict. As with any southern noir thriller, LET ME MAKE YOU A MARTYR throws the sibling/lovers’ adopted father Larry(Mark Boone Junior in a performance that is both evil and heartbreaking at the same time) into the mix and his vengeful and abusive side employs the devil incarnate, a hitman known only as “Pope” (played by Marilyn Manson). What we’re given for the rest of the film, is a very cerebral and moody tale, one that could easily sit next to BLOOD SIMPLE, BADLANDS or ROAD TO PERDITION with confidence.

We care about the two leads so much that the film elevates itself from a really entertaining story, to a film that you just can’t keep your eyes off of. A one of a kind, hybrid of the darkest works of The Coen Bros. and the more cerebral parts of Malick’s filmography, Asraf and Swab know how to craft a story and film that just oozes authenticity. Every chipped piece of paint, every dirty trailer, you can almost smell the dirt and grime.  It’s a bloody, dread-filled film, one that is packed to the brim with a quiet intensity. A calm and completely enthralling whirlwind of vengeance and murder.

 

Niko Nicotera and Sam Quartin have such wonderful chemistry as Drew and June Glass, the duo caught up in hell at home, hoping to get the opportunity to makLET ME MAKE YOU A MARTYRe a run for it without having to face the absolutely emotionless killer that is Pope. The chemistry between Nicotera and Quartin is a chemistry that is rarely seen these days. You pain for June’s drug addiction, for Drew’s deep down realization that things won’t end up the way they want them to. It tears at your heartstrings to follow two characters who were dealt such a bad hand early in life and are now having to pay for it.

Almost poetic in its aesthetic, LET ME MAKE YOU A MARTYR is love story caught in a mix of violence and honesty. It never feels, for a single second, like you’re watching performances, you’re so enthralled by the audacious choices made by directors Asraf and Swab, that it feels like you’re part of the story. You root for the couple, yet are so mesmerized by what is one of the most chilling performances in recent time, courtesy of Marilyn Manson. Manson is a revelation, giving a career best performance and is absolutely terrifying in every scene he’s in. The devil incarnate, soft with his delivery but very to the fact, a character and performance on par with Javier Bardem’s Anton Chigurh character in NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. Having previously show his acting chops in TV’s Sons of Anarchy as well as appearing in WRONG COPS, Manson pulls out the big guns with this one, his Pope character is so soft-spoken yet eerie that it’s hard to shake the guy, once the film is over.

With Manson’s hypnotic yet terrifying performance and Niko Nicotera invoking a presence similar to an early Vincent Gallo, LET ME MAKE YOU A MARTYR shows that true cinema can be contained and with a smaller budget, but be just as good if not better than most big budgeted fare. It’s a sight to see, one to witness and one that will surely be a conversation starter, a film that will one day be held high next to other noir-like thrillers. It’s a rare case of a movie that is as close to being a perfect film as possible.

“Heaven will take your eyes.”

 

Comments
4 Responses to “Fantasia Review: LET ME MAKE YOU A MARTYR”
  1. Great review, and you really hit the nail on the head with the emphasis on dirt and grime. This is a world I wouldn’t want to live in.

    • SMITH says:

      Thank you so much for reading, I appreciate it. I love films that leave you asking yourself questions and this was most definitely one.

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