The script is cleverly written to give off a sophisticated and haunting tone for the film. Every single word in the script has heavier weight than it initially appears. Watching this film felt like reading a book in Old English, understandable but extremely complicated. Ben Rosenfield's (A Most Violent Year) character, Bertram Flusser, gives us examples of the complexity of the film through his analogies and performances of Shakespearean plays. He pops up in the first half of the movie as an antagonist to Marcus. Yet, Marcus seems to think that the whole world is against his studies. A romantic relationship affects his life, causing him to have a different outlook on what is going on around him. This character is so rich and complex, that I still do not fully understand exactly how his mind works.
Multiple controversial themes come up throughout the movie, moving Marcus forward through the plot. A few of these themes are parental guidance, religion, and depression. All of the themes are heavy and hard for the audience to digest at times. They add to the daunting experience of sitting through the film at times when you feel uncomfortable. James Schamus's (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) direction helps to create a dark color palette for the film. Symmetrical shots place the audience at the center of the controversies that Marcus struggles to understand. Close-ups also bring us right up to all of the characters with a direct view of their facial expressions. Everything about the film screams out as an art form that is subtly complex.
The Bottom Line: An unexpected ending helps to create a film that exceed expectations of modern cinema.
Image credit: By DoD News Features - 141015-D-FW736-076, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37668559