Retaliation Review: Orlando Bloom Dazzles In A Dark Punishing Underrated Film

Retaliation

Starring Orlando Bloom, Janet Montgomery, Charlie Creed-Miles, Anne Reid, Alex Ferns and Josh Myers.

Directed by   Ludwig Shammasian and Paul Shammasian

Rating: ****

 “I rape myself,”  Orlando  Bloom in his career’s most challenging role, confesses  into the camera. And he isn’t speaking  metaphorically. This  graphic stark brutal dark and  vivid film on self-flagellation  gets so  violent at times that I  found myself looking away in revulsion.

And that’s the way it should be. Child  abuse is not a sweet subject. The survivor grows up twisted,confused,horrendously  self-punishing and unable to respect  the  important relationships in his or life. Orlando Bloom’s Malcolm suffers  a deep sense of persecution manifested in gruesome acts  of self-violence. In one  sequence he sodomizes  himself  with a wooden phallus. In another  he repeatedly stabs his hand with a scissors.

For Orlando  Bloom  this is  a performance that must have killed  him many  times  over. He  goes into  area of Malcom’s  guilt and  self-loathing from which there’s no escape. I wonder how scarred this role left  Bloom. Would he ever be   “normal” again?  Significantly,  Bloom plays a  church demolisher: his assailant was  a priest. By pulling down churches Malcolm  is  avenging the brutality that  unsuspecting children  often face in the hands of  hypocritical  godmen.

I will never forget Orlando Bloom’s face  at the end  of  the  film when he recalls being sodomized  at age 12 by the priest.  When  the  numbed boy reached home,  his mother refuse to share his grief and shock. Pain is such an isolating experience. Even those closest to the suffering  are shut out.

 Retaliation shows its protagonist battling bravely but futilely with his inner demons. His  relationship with his  girlfriend and  mother, played by  Janet Montgomery and Anne Reid , both wonderfully comforting in their spaces vis-a-vis  the tormented hero, is so  complicated that the co-directors do not intervene . The ugliness is  allowed  to chase its own shadows.

 Make  no mistake. This  film belongs to Orlando Bloom.He owns  every moment of Malcolm’s miserable existence  and ensures that his redemption is  not found to  be unacceptable to the audience. The film ends with the offending priest doing himself harm. The circle  of retribution has  reached  its fated  destination. It’s time to  stop the  pain.

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