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"Fractured" (2019) Review


This psychological thriller will take you on an erratic journey through the rapid paced maze of events, accompanied by the powerful performance of Sam Worthington. The Netflix original fills you with constant paranoia, mirroring the mindset of the main character. The suffocating undertone lingers with you for days, after following the disturbing twists in this feature film.

During a drive home, we are introduced to Ray (Sam Worthington) and his wife and daughter, Joanne and Peri. We soon learn that they are all part of a dysfunctional and tense family setting. Stopping at a gas station quickly takes a wicked turn, when their beloved daughter has an accident. The couple have to rush to a hospital in an attempt to save the one thing that seems to be stringing their marriage together. The dynamic at the hospital is extremely disturbing and strives to make us feel uneasy, as the staff seem hesitant to assist the family. Strange encounters with the individuals working there, including a secretary asking unnecessary questions, builds suspicion and the couple become impatient in receiving assistance to help their injured girl. Ray is portrayed as a father of good intention but clearly crushed by the burden of his failing relationship. After Peri is sent for a scan alongside her mum, Ray is told to wait until it is done. We are plunged into the mystery that is laced in between these scenes, after the hospital struggles to find Peri and Joanne's records. Even worse, they claim they were never admitted there in the first place. In a state of hysteria, we follow Ray as he ventures to find his family and expose the secrets of the hospital, while striving to keep his sanity.

Through Anderson's use of worst case scenarios and his familiarity with using bleak settings, we enter a labyrinth of the mind. I admired the effect of the grey palette and gloomy washes as this caused me to halt my certainty of what was real and what was fantasy. I believe that this is Anderson's intention; prompt you to reevaluate your perspective. As I experienced a constant uncertainty in each scene, I realised his goal is for his audience to echo Ray's state of mind. When things don't start adding up, he tangles up your thoughts and uses this mechanism to play games with us, which is a consistency in all his films. Fractured is the depiction of how the mind can play tricks on you. When you enter a state of shock and don't want to face fact, our instant defence mechanism is to make up our own alternative reality. Anderson illustrates what a powerful and dangerous tool, the mind can be and uses it against us. Which is what I feel, makes the film a real success.

There are a few moments that display beautiful scenery including the motorway during a sunset and a field with a neon pink sky in the horizon. A strong sense of anticlimax is brought to the surface, as it is a complete contradiction to the tense action occurring throughout the film. The hospital is a cold surrounding, with minimalistic features and murky shades which is a perfect way to warn us about what is to come. There is a sense of entering Ray's mind due to the lack of detail and bleariness of the environment around him. It is a continuous war between real life and fiction. I appreciate the minimalist approach, as it compliments the events without giving too much away or distracting the viewer. Anderson's choice to keep colour to a minimum, paints an unsettling mood, so whenever a splash of colour appeared, I was startled and realised it must be a significant clue within the story. Anderson is very smart in the way he interlaces clues, that are so subtle, most people are bound to miss them.

I was very impressed by the editing of this film and how well it helped to tell the story. Very frequently, the scenes seem tilted, an obvious but efficient method of hinting at Ray's unstableness. I felt attached to Ray's character, which after watching the film and knowing the whole truth, might be a controversial thing to say, but I feel that this was due to Worthington's competent acting skills and ability to convince the audience onto his side, regardless the circumstances. My favourite part of this masterpiece, was the way certain scenes were filmed through a window or in the reflection of a mirror. I imagine Anderson added this feature to trigger sympathy for Ray and the situation that he is in, which definitely worked on me. This might be to draw upon the fact that his character is trapped in his own mind and is unable to see beyond that. I believe that this constant theme of glass is a reflection of Ray's clouded perspective and a reminder that he is a recovering alcoholic, making him an unreliable narrator. Is Ray looking at life through a glass alcohol bottle?

Both at the beginning and the end of the film, Ray and Peri share a wholesome moment, they both sing a nursery song, "I can sing a rainbow" in the car together. Ray's daughter is the only source of colour and happiness in his life it seems, as once she disappears, the film becomes bleak and colourless. There are a few repeated appearances of red and yellow, which Anderson sneakily adds, to tease us into thinking that Ray is closer to finding his family. Anderson uses colour to comment upon the innocence of Peri and her unawareness of what is happening around her, as well as a way to display the vastness of what Ray is going through, in contrast. Anderson clearly demonstrates a strong understanding of each of his characters and has them all under his control, ready to use one in order to help us understand another.

Although it could be argued that Fractured has a somewhat confusing ending and included a rushed explanation at the end, which left a few gaps unanswered, I feel that this film is a massive triumph. It felt as if the cliffhanger ending was the cherry on top and complimented Anderson's tradition of playing games with his audience, at the same time as answering a lot of questions that sprung up. His aesthetic and colour palette choice is the main substance for the success of this film. If you are reading this, I urge you to give this film a go. Get ready to go on an emotional ride and be warned; you may fracture your brain from trying to solve the mystery.

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Fractured (2019)

Genre: Psychological, Thriller, Mystery

Age Rating: PG-13

Director: Brad Anderson

Studio: Netflix

Duration: 100 minutes

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