Wounds – Cannes 2019 Review

Following its premiere at Sundance this past January, word had spread about Babak Anvari’s Wounds and the absolute absurdity of the entire production. The film, starring Armie Hammer, Dakota Johnson, and Zazie Beetz, arrived in Cannes to be screened for eager cinephiles, and it did not disappoint. Introduced by Anvari himself, who also had a hard time coming up with anything to say about his own film; where he directly stated “It’s a crazy ride, I hope you enjoy it, you know…we tried to experiment with this film, we tried to do something that hopefully, you know, hopefully, you know, do something that can like, you know…can like…basically…I don’t know what I’m talking about. Thanks for being here!” in front of a crowd of hundreds of people, Wounds is everything one should expect from a film about a haunted cell phone.

Armie Hammer plays Will, a good ol’ American bartender working the night shift, when a rowdy night at his bar ends with some underage patrons leaving behind an inconspicuous cell phone. Will drunkenly unlocks the phone, and virtually stumbles into some weird demonic group-chat. Quickly, his life begins to unravel. Who among us can’t say they’ve mistakenly entered a group chat that ended up ruining their life. Millennials!

Interestingly enough, the cast tries their best with the material they were given. Armie attempts to bring Will to life by manning the bar like a rich character learning to do laundry for the first time in a riches to rags sitcom. Dakota plays Carrie, who seems to be an extension of her character in the Social Network, the hot college student who walks around the apartment in her underwear. She also enjoys staring at a creepy wormhole on her laptop. We don’t really get an explanation about that, so we can assume she might just be an archaeology major. With that said, it would not be unwarranted to believe the Wounds Cinematic Universe is happening in the same time and place as the Social Network Cinematic Universe. Perhaps Armie’s Will is a long lost Winklevoss triplet this whole time, which may explain his apparent distaste to his bar profession.

Though at a surface level, this very much feels like a plea to millennials to “PLEASE GET OFF THEIR PHONE”, in which the film proves to acknowledge the existence of heavier themes of toxic masculinity, loneliness, emptiness and how we chose to cope with all of these problematic issues.  But these ideas remain unexplored and hardly do anything for the story or it’s characters. And judging by how much it struggles to communicate its main story-line, I wouldn’t want to see the film even try.

Wounds is hilarious, absurd, and makes absolutely no sense. It even opens up with a quote from Heart of Darkness! It’s hard to say what the film wanted to achieve. It’s a clumsy attempt at being whatever it is was meant to be, and lacks a great amount of intention for it to be taken seriously. The horror aspects of the film feel improvised, like someone proposed the idea on set and they kinda just ran with it unsure if they were fully committed or not. On the other hand, it works incredibly well if you simply refer to this movie as an ironic modern day comedic articulation. That is to say, a living and breathing meme. There is something especially riveting about seeing Armie Hammer earnestly yell “Don’t use that tone with me Jeffrey!”

Without revealing any additional plot points beyond the stellar Wounds/Social Network hypothesis I have presented to you earlier, this movie is an experience. Gather some friends, snacks, and enjoy the chaotic cinema that is Wounds. It will be sure to account for a large part of your group chat’s meme fodder for the next month. Just make sure you don’t leave your phone in Armie Hammer’s bar, and accidentally possess him. He’s already been through so much.

Wounds screened at the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs at this year’s 72nd Cannes Film Festival. Netflix will release the film later this year.

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