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Home | Film Review: Retreat (2011)

Film Review: Retreat (2011)


Kate and Martin escape from personal tragedy to an island retreat. Cut off from the outside world, their attempts to recover are shattered when a Man is washed ashore, with news of airborne killer disease that is sweeping through Europe.


Written by Janice Hallett and Carl Tibbetts
Directed by Carl Tibbets
Starring Cillian Murphy, Jamie Bell, Thandie Newton

I totally scored with this batch of movies.

While every batch has an entertainment value, normally, I get one film out of six that is really good. Occasionally I get one film out of six that knocks my socks off. This time around I received three films out of six (check that, out of five; I still have one more to go) that I super enjoyed. Retreat was one of those films.

First off, it has the same kind of stripped down approach that I loved about movies like The Presence, Bug, and, if you go even further back, Dead Calm. It has the same minimal cast (the magic number: three principle characters), a single setting (in this case a remote island off the coast of Scotland), and a story that drives itself, taking you along a tumultuous journey to its conclusion.

The story is simple enough: a troubled couple goes to a secluded island to hash out their problems and is interrupted by an unsuspected visitor who is making outrageous claims about the world outside. The intrigue is in trying to figure out if he’s telling the truth or not. You are as helpless as Kate and Martin, wondering about the validity of the stranger’s claims while simultaneously being concerned for not only the welfare of the world, but, more importantly, the safety of the troubled couple. Is he saving them or is he imprisoning them for some other twisted agenda? The end will only tell and you won’t see it coming.

The setting, because it is solely one location, becomes a character in its own right. Like the films I mentioned above, the setting infuses life in to the story. In The Presence, it’s the solitude of the cabin that contributes to the desperation of Mira Sorvino’s situation. In Bug, it’s the solitude of the apartment they’re in that contributes to the downward spiral of paranoia. In Dead Calm, it’s the solitude of the ship that ushers in hopelessness. In Retreat, they are most assuredly NOT getting out of this cottage, much less off the island. As if that isn’t unnerving enough, there lies the possibility that the world outside may never be the same.

And, have you figured out yet that Cillian Murphy is a bad-ass? The first time I saw him was in 28 Days Later, (2002) (easily one of my top 10 movie franchises…where’s 28 Months, Mr. Boyle?), but he was in Sunshine (2007), (another Danny Boyle film), Red Eye (2005), and, more recently, The Dark Knight (2008) as the Scarecrow. The different characters he portrays in those films is staggering, but to truly get a sense of his bad-assness just compare his character in Red Eye, to his character in Retreat. In Red Eye, his character was this menacing, ruthless man who you got the sense was absolutely capable at carrying out every threat that he made. In Retreat, he plays a guy. Just a guy. A guy who is more like the rest of us guys than we, as guys, would like to admit. His tentativeness in reacting to a situation that he hasn’t fully grasped is real, and the clumsiness that results when he does take action is spot on. I related to Martin because, while I would like to think that in a life-threatening situation my secret spy training would kick into action and there would be nothing but my assailant’s flesh and gristle on the floor in front of me, more than likely I’d react more like Martin did…and so would you.

Now out on DVD per Magnet Releasing Films

Retreat. See it. It’s awesome.

Retreat (2011)

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