Written and directed by Mitzi Peirone, two wanted women decide to rob their wealthy psychotic friend who lives in the fantasy world they created as children; to take the money they have to take part in a deadly perverse game of make believe. Starring: Madeline Brewer, Imogen Waterhouse, Sarah Hay and Scott Cohen.
Madeline Brewer has proved time and time again her talent at playing roles that handle different psychological elements from the vulnerable Tricia in Orange is the New Black to naïve Janine in The Handmaid’s Tale to being terrorised as Alice in Cam. That sincere talent would then sound perfect for the role of a woman trapped in a childlike mentality, playing ‘Mother’ to her friends and forcing them to follow her rules or face the consequences, and she’s unsurprisingly brilliant at it. It’s a shame then that they didn’t go deeper into the rabbit hole with this character but the moments in which Brewer gets to expose glimpses of the darkness and violence that Daphne is capable of are intense burgeoning on uncomfortable. However, her counterparts Waterhouse and Hay are more difficult to judge, their performances far from have the intensity that Brewer’s does but as the story calls for a rather ragged, unhinged progress, it’s hard to tell whether their performance were technically what was asked of them or over the top. Simply put they both fulfil what’s needed but they’re surprisingly forgettable performances for such a twisted plot.
One of the typical issues for any film that is aiming at something twisted or mind-bending is to take a story and turn it into something convoluted, messy and unfollowable, which is what happens here. The writing starts off well, the initial idea and execution are enjoyable, they have a huge potential for violence and are genuinely unpredictable but there’s a very clear point in the film where the switch flips and it becomes something entirely different. From that point on, it’s too busy throwing different styles at you to realise that its story has gone completely off the rails, there’s no clear path or reasoning to what happens from then on and it doesn’t leave you contemplating what the real truth is, it leaves you confused, unsatisfied and disappointed. It’s by far the biggest issue of the script but its not the only one, Waterhouse and Hay’s characters are hard to sympathise with, they’re selfish, vapid, uninhibited and uncaring which means that they’ve immediately cut off any desire for the audience to care what happens to them, so the danger is lessened before it’s even begun. There’s also not enough set up, it skips over any tangible back story, opting for something that reflects the characters’ vapid nature instead, and dives head first into the story, there’s no time for you to settle in so that they can really knock you off centre with its darkness.
The direction is similarly messy, there are so many instances where style is chosen over any other form of substance, some of which at least fit in with the events taking place and others just feel entirely unnecessary. It explains that loss of focus to the story more when the direction is too busy playing with the visual and the colour palette to make coherent sense. Its overall quality is scattered, there are some interesting touches and inventive shots but they get lost amongst the fray. There’s also a minor issue of certain shots which surprisingly feel like your classic exploitation for male gratification, random extended shots of nudity which are entirely out of place, it’s unexpected for a film helmed by women and yet doesn’t feel like it celebrates them, instead feels rather tasteless.
Nobody Leaves is a hot mess, it’s jarring and fractured, and it doesn’t have a clear, consistent focus or style. Beginning with a very intriguing concept which it embraced for a few scenes then completely throws out of the window in favour of something flashy and an attempt at clever filmmaking which is in actuality entirely vapid. There are some all too brief enjoyable moments and a wonderful as always Madeline Brewer who, had she taken the entire focus of this film, could have improved it because the intensity and unpredictability that she brings to her character is something that had much more potential than it got the chance to explore. Ultimately, this film is a case of a filmmaker trying too hard to get an edgy, stylish visual to the point that it loses any real story and by the time you reach the end, you’re left unsatisfied and short-changed.