Retrospekt is an engrossing film from dutch filmmaker Esther Rots. The story focuses on a domestic violence case worker who gets heavily involved in the life of one of her victims, and there’s a distinctly dark undertone throughout the film.

The story is structured like a temporal jigsaw puzzle, darting around in a non-linear fashion. But, it is thoroughly clear that the case worker (played by the marvelous Circé Lethem) has suffered a debilitating injury at the hands of someone in her life. One of the most consistent methods for determining where you are in the story is by identifying the extent of the heroine’s injuries and mental state.

One issue that often crops up with a story where the audience essentially “knows” the climax is that you can lose any sense of mystery or suspense. This is not the case with Retrospekt because there is always the task at hand of piecing the story together, of uncovering a new clue. There’s some danger of this becoming gimmicky, but it is executed well in this film.

In addition, there is a clear reasoning behind this stylistic choice, made clear in a few key sequences: the disjointed narrative mirrors the main character’s own state of mind throughout the film.

Due to both its subject matter and the challenging narrative structure, Retrospekt isn’t an easy film to watch. But, due to the strength of the acting and storytelling, it is an enjoyable experience.

Screens:
Sunday, September 16, 3:15 PM, Scotiabank

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