Bleak and depressing to the point of exhaustion, New Order feels cobbled together with the best of intentions. The biggest problems lie in muddled class dynamics, and excessive torture sequences that result in a puzzling, uneven film. On the day of her lavish wedding, Marianne (an excellent Naian Gonzalez Nerving) gets separated from her groom (Dario Yazbek Bernal) and family when trying to attain funds for a former family employee and his daughter’s heart valve surgery. With protests raging in the streets, they soon bleed into the party itself; desperate lower-class invaders start shooting at will, stealing and looting whatever they can. After Marianne is captured, her brother Daniel (Scream Queens and Rock of Ages actor Diego Boneta) is willing to pay any price for her safe return…
Scenes from Michel Franco’s drama New Order feel pulled from a terrifying potential reality. Rioting in the streets, class commentary, torture and looting… it’s inherently scary. When it’s good, it’s great. In the first half, tensions are tight as the suspense is cranked up. With the backdrop of the wedding, New Order creates an instant rapport between the characters. I longed to see Marianne reunited with her family. It becomes clear as the movie progresses that it cares little for the characters, and more for the shock factor of the awful situation. The stronger the mean streak, the less engaged I became in following it through.
The film is peppered with bizarre imagery, especially as it opens, that doesn’t really go anywhere. I felt the planting of some fascinating ideas, and I wanted a deeper exploration of both the dystopian themes and the social and economic interplay. New Order could’ve been exponentially better if it took place over one night, following this family as they get torn apart and must struggle to survive. If you want a better movie about a crumbling society with the word ‘order’ in the title, check out SXSW film Executive Order once it becomes widely available.
New Order is playing now in US theaters.