The other day I came across a random trailer in my YouTube side suggestions and was hooked. Lately, I’ve had back luck with trailers I think that are awesome. A quick search later, I was happy to find it on Netflix. Fortunately, the movie ended up being inferior to it’s promotional tactic. Today I present, Beyond the Black Rainbow.
Black Rainbow hails from Canada and is the directorial debut of Panos Cosmatos, which he also wrote and produced the film, released back in 2010 and premiering at the Whistler Film Festival, Canada. The following year it was shown at the Tribeca Film Festival and distributed by Magnet Releasing.
Beyond is about . . . honestly, I’m not too sure if I understood every single component and I mean that in a good way, I swear. The main characters, their purpose and connection to each other are clear. Yet, their past and the company that brought them together is quite subjective. I know some might find it annoying but I love stories that are open-ended and layered intensely. Of course it has to be done well which I feel Beyond the Black Rainbow succeeded in.
The film opens to the introduction of the Arboria Institute. Even though their mission is stated, what they offer still isn’t defined. What I understood was they wanted to help people conform to ideal “happiness” through cerebral and experimental methods. Then we move on to Dr. Barry Nyle and his patient, Elena. This doctor-patient relationship isn’t what one would usually think of. Elena is kept inside the institute like a psychiatric prisoner and when she sees Dr. Nyle, they are separated by glass. Nyle isn’t trying to help her. Instead, it seems like an interrogation, trying to provoke her. Ultimately, Elena escapes from her cell and makes her way through the darkest parts of the institute, Dr. Nyle on her trail.
The story is set back in 1983 which mirrors the aesthetics of the film. The set design is very minimal, modern and sharp, very reminiscent of great futuristic sci-fi films. My favorite visuals of the film were the bright and deep stark colors. From lighting to image manipulation, the colors really helped set the mood of derangement, fear and isolation.
Cosmatos, the son of director George P. Cosmatos (Rappresaglia, The Cassandra Crossing, Tombstone), took two years to write the script, merging a few ideas he was sitting on. The final product, which Cosmatos financed on his own, was shot on 35mm film, all incredible to me. I love film versus digital and having the means to produce my own projects would be the ideal. Finding locations for the film was quite easy since majority of it is indoors and was built and manipulated to service more than one scene. The cinematography was done so well, framing was beautiful, all sizes captured and utilized for this jarring film and the lighting was styled bold and blunt.
The best performance definitely goes to Michael Rogers, the great actor who took on Barry Nyle. The way he was styled was perfect and he has the face for a mysterious villain. The way he talks, the startling stares and smirks, his different tones for everyone he interacts with are all scary. There’s not one positive feeling or action from him. It must be difficult but fun bringing that kind of person to life. Elena was played by Eva Allan, a great up and coming actress. She embodied innocence, confusion, courage and I rooted for her the entire time. Check out the trailer:
Again, it’s on Netflix and available wherever one might get their flicks nowadays. Enjoy and be inspired!