Buster's Mal Heart

2016

Drama / Mystery / Thriller

36
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 76%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 71%
IMDb Rating 5.9 10 2792

Synopsis


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July 05, 2017 at 04:51 PM

Cast

Rami Malek as Buster
DJ Qualls as The Last Free Man
Lin Shaye as Pauline
Bruce Bundy as Ranger Meg
720p 1080p
716.19 MB
1280*720
English
NR
23.976 fps
1hr 36 min
P/S 14 / 112
1.49 GB
1920*1080
English
NR
23.976 fps
1hr 36 min
P/S 10 / 99

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Aaron Simpson 7 / 10

Buster's Catholic Heart

There's been one point or another, during our lives, that we've found ourselves in conversation with someone who has both intrigued and concerned us with their eccentricity. For me, these moments are often experienced around public transport; the stranger that sits next to you despite the available seats on the bus, the slightly intoxicated person at the stop whilst you're waiting for the last bus, or the person hanging around the train station waiting room that doesn't appear to be waiting for any particular connection. For Jonah (Rami Malek), this interaction was with The Last Free Man (DJ Qualls), whom he meets at the hotel in which he is the concierge. Despite the company policy, and the sight of his drug addiction, Jonah agrees to provide a room for The Last Free Man where he preaches of a conspiracy known as the Inversion. From here begins the descent of Jonah's mind; he becomes slowly-and-then-suddenly fixated around the concept of wormhole's – Not dissimilar from those depicted in Donnie Darko (2001) – and becomes increasingly dissatisfied with his work as the night manager.

Structuring the chronology of Buster's Mal Heart simplistically, however, reduces the complex portrayal of the disparate temporal episodes. During these sorts of crises in film, the viewer can often safely turn to visual symbolism and verbal leitmotif to engage with the deeper echelon of meaning in the narrative. For example, in The Godfather (1972) we can take the oranges as portent for impending death, and in Hitchcock's Vertigo (1958) we can take the spiral imagery to represent confusion and disorientation. The issue presented in Buster's Mal Heart is that the haven of symbolism does not seem to complement the narrative directly and opens up a new avenue of interpretation. Through the fog of suburban discontent and the forests of Montana is a cache of religious symbolism present to conflict and supplement the film. Early in the film, during Jonah's internal struggle with his ideals, it is learned that his wife is an ex-addict who was reformed through the church. She tells him that he is pleased that he has 'found faith in his heart' for them to be together. This appears to be of little consequence as many rehabilitated addicts utilise the structure and comfort of organised religion to conquer their issues. However, much later in the film during a newscast featuring 'Buster', his mother watching expresses the importance of the role of God in restoring him. These two episodes bookend the film, demonstrating the imposition of religion on Jonah, a man who spends a great portion of the film buying into the concept of the Inversion – something dismissed and ridiculed by the public as mere conspiracy.

It is not so much the agency of clarification that these references to Christianity provide for unlocking the demanding rhetoric of the film, but the frequency of symbols is something that cannot be dismissed as coincidence. It seems likely that the aesthetic of Buster on the rowboat in the middle of the ocean, where he spends a figurative forty-days and forty-nights in a form of desert, is designed to draw comparisons with the Western imagination of Christ. It seems more than coincidental that this image is contrasted with one of Buster wearing a Santa costume whilst he squats in the holiday home, taking hostage the elderly couple that have returned.

Perhaps the most curious of all the religious symbolism throughout the film are the allusions to the Ten Plagues of Egypt. Whilst not all of the plagues feature explicitly throughout the film, the subtlety and consistency of the religious imagery indicates that the plagues, or trials, present to test Jonah demand investigation. During Jonah's 'staycation' in the hotel, he experiences the first and tenth plagues. Buster returns to his room, to find the bath tub full of water. Moving into the bedroom, he discovers his wife and child are dead and are covered in blood. It could be argued that this represents the first plague: water into blood. It seems that The Last Free Man; the man with a cocaine addiction, a disbelief in forms of personal identification, and a penchant for drifting, was the murderer. However, his identity is proved to be questionable as the police and security review the CCTV footage and find no man present at all. This appears to suggest that The Last Free Man never truly existed and that the perpetrator of the infanticide was Jonah himself, thus bringing on the remaining plagues. Later in the film, the frame is filled with the sight of Buster, alone, drifting afloat a rowboat in the ocean begging for death. Whilst it is unclear whether this expression originates in existential ennui, honest grief, or remorseful guilt, it could simply be interpreted as an emotional darkness, a metaphor for the ninth plague: darkness. When Buster awakes the following morning, he finds the boat full of frogs: the second plague. Whilst any self-respecting survivalist would interpret this infestation as a source of sustenance for the future, it is not hard to suspect that these victuals would provide little restoration. The manifestation of the remaining plagues is implied rather than represented directly; whilst Buster is living in the cave amongst the Montana forest the plagues of lice, boils, thunderstorms of hail, locusts, and vicious animals are easily imaginable as aspects of wild living.

The film does, however, engage with the tenets of Christianity and highlight tensions between organised belief and conspiracy theories to a degree that refusing to recognise them would be an incomplete approach to the film. The function of this imagery is elusive, it might serve to engineer Jonah's cognitive dissonance and existential collapse, or rather, it might be something of a muse for director Sarah Adina Smith, designed to represent the trials of one's mind when balancing personal belief and social expectation.

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Reviewed by Hannah Ward 9 / 10

Takes time to fully understand

This is a visually striking film with an amazing plot. It took some time for me to fully understand this film but once you understand it, it will stick with you for a long time. Rami Malek's performance is flawless and minimalistic. If you're obsessed with filmmaking and cinematography you will appreciate this to its full potential.

Reviewed by David Ferguson ([email protected]) 6 / 10

belly of the whale

Greetings again from the darkness. A film festival wouldn't be complete without at least one mind-blowing avant-garde cinematic experience. I'm not the kind that needs every ending neatly bow-wrapped, and I often enjoy having conventional story structure challenged and even dissolved. Writer/director Sarah Adina Smith seems to thrive in such an environment in this twisty psychological thriller covering three timelines (one of which may be a dream) … or a split personality … or two/three men from one … or some combination … or something else entirely that I might have missed. (I'm not too proud to admit this distinct possibility).

When a filmmaker bravely dives into the bizarre, casting becomes crucial. Ms. Smith nails it with Rami Malek, DJ Qualls and Kate Lyn Sheil. Thanks to the popularity of TV's "Mr. Robot", Malek is now a leading man – albeit far outside the Ryan Gosling mold. Here he plays Jonah, a struggling family man with a wife (Ms. Sheil) and young child. Working as a night Concierge at a hotel, Jonah tries to make the best of the lack of sleep and minimal contact with his family. In addition to Jonah, Malek plays Buster, a slippery and hirsute mountain man who negotiates his way through the Montana mountains by hanging out in the multi-million dollar vacation homes (mostly) vacated by their owners during the snowy winter months.

The film bounces between 3 periods for Jonah/Buster: the elusive near-mythical mountain man running from the law, the bleak nights of the family man, and a dream-like sequence where he is adrift at sea in a row boat. Throughout the film, references to "sphincter" and multiple proclamations that "The Inversion is coming" lead us to believe there could be a sci-fi connection or an apocalyptic ending headed our way. Instead, it's "the belly of the whale" that might unlock the mystery or mysteries serenaded by the thunderous techno-bass bass. Even with the dark comedic elements, it's a head-scratcher for sure; but one that manages to keep us engaged despite our whirlwind of theories and uncertainly.

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