by Greg Vellante

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday September 22, 2017


"Woodshock" is the filmmaking debut of fashion designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy, and the result is often as frustrating as the stitches slowly unraveling on a favorite sweater.

The film at first seems confident and strong, but soon devolves into a mess of loosely connected threads and mismatched colors, strutting down a catwalk leading nowhere. In the film, Kirsten Dunst stars as a woman named Theresa, grieving and guilt-ridden after the death of her mother, while simultaneously partaking in a paranoia-inducing marijuana strain laced with a mysterious substance.

There isn't much more worth discussing in terms of plot, as "Woodshock" is far more concerned about capturing the moody atmosphere channeled through its varied themes of grief, guilt, addiction and mental instability. Unfortunately, these overconfident objectives never quite reach their intended marks. Only rarely does "Woodshock" become the existential, daring work it so clearly strives to be, and most of the time the film stands still and, as a result, time seems to stand still with it.

For every moment of bold, visionary filmmaking, there are about five moments of torturous tedium. The film's ennui encircles you like a cancer, which was perhaps what the Mulleavy sisters were going for, but the result is so unpleasantly inert that there isn't much to do aside from shrug.

Technically, the film has some strong moments in photography and editing, and particularly in its soundscapes, but just as equally if not more so the film feels like a '90s-era grunge music video by way of a film student who just discovered the work of Terrence Malick. To put it bluntly, for the most part this film is absolute bullshit.

And I think that's what's so frustrating about a work that aims so audaciously high yet nosedives with spectacular misguidedness. There's a vision here, for sure, but it doesn't quite translate. There's promise for stronger works ahead, provided the Mulleavys are given another chance, and I hope they get it. There's fascination to be found in even the most bafflingly erroneous work, and "Woodshock" certainly had me engaged despite its flaws.

But, in the end, its flaws are what I remember most. And, my word, there are a lot of them.


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