Mexican provocateur Michel Franco takes you on a lean, mean and bleak ride that has already proven to be divisive.
Expecting a musical biopic about the Mancunian new wave rockers? You’re in for a rude awakening.
Set in Mexico City, Nuevo Orden (New Order) sees the wedding of a super-rich upper-class couple get gate-crashed by armed rioters, who are part of a larger uprising of the underprivileged. In the midst of the chaos, the Mexican army jumps on the occasion to establish a military dictatorship.
Directed by Mexican filmmaker Michel Franco, this is a lean, mean and bleak ride that has already proven to be divisive: the Venice Film Festival awarded it the Grand Jury Prize last year, while a backlash saw accusations levelled towards Franco, who was seen as indulging easy racial stereotypes.
Granted, Franco’s provocative brand of cynicism does not make for a subtle socio-political allegory by any stretch of the imagination. However, he knows what buttons he’s pushing and he presses them with gusto, and crucially never stoops to insultingly simplistic, Joker-style pseudo-commentary. Nor does he burden the third-act with binary platitudes about class, redemption or the glory of revolutions. Franco prefers an impactful 88-minute-gut-punch that ratchets up the nihilism and unspeakable bursts of violence in order to provoke reflection: bloodshed is inevitable if unchecked social disparities continue to widen, but fascistic rule will always opportunistically emerge in order to maintain age-old inequalities. Do nothing and nothing changes; replace the current system and one just as ugly takes its place. In that sense, New Order is both a vivid call to arms and a chilling cautionary tale, offering more questions than it does answers.
Worth watching…if you can stomach it.
Nuevo Orden (New Order) / Directed by Michel Franco (Mexico, 2020), with Naian Gonzalez Norvind, Diego Boneta, Fernando Cuautle, Mónica Del Carmen. Starts August 12.