Directed by: Edward A Palmer
Written by: Edward A Palmer
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Sometimes, according to Edward Palmer who wrote this title, we need to think outside the box. Orchestrating an abduction, and holding someone captive quite frankly, feels like the exact opposite of what one would do to help someone - or make someone fall in love with you. The entire "captive" thing would be a turn off for most. Ruby is one such girl. Captured and hidden away from the world by Tom, her abductor. With no hope for immediate escape, due to a few mysterious injuries she somehow sustained. Ruby runs through the usual emotions one would feel if in this same situation. Hate, fear, and probably even that inevitable sense of dread. Eventually, she decides to play it cool. Heal up and wait for her chance. Does this guy really think she'll just fall in love with him? How many times has he done this and lastly, does she "really" have any chance for survival? This is that part of the mind "Hippopotamus" occupies. Or so it would seem.
First off I need to give credit where credit is due. Aside from Ingvild Deila and Stuart Mortimer being fantastic in the leading roles, the production team themselves deserve to be mentioned. Although bleak and dreary for many a-scene, somehow, "Hippopotamus" also manages to infuse a fairy tale like quality to a good chunk of the film as well. It's difficult to put my finger on what exactly this quality is, but even during the desolate moments of captivity there's just something slightly more. Something almost dreamy. Obviously, some scenes, especially during the second half contain more of this feeling, but it's interesting that anything like this is here at all. Sure. The flashbacks are one thing, but the vast majority of this title takes placed in a small place that's devoid of "near" anything artistic. Once you realize this, and still get that storybook vibe, you really have no choice but to appreciate the experience and work that must have went into this title. You could be asking how or why a person would even bother? Considering the nature of this movie. Rest assured, it will all make sense in the end.
So really? What is "Hippopotamus" all about? By now you've gathered it's a "captive" movie, but there has to be more right? Well yes. Yes there is. This is a film about love - and about the mind. A film about determination from both the captive and the captor. Until the final act you probably won't quite realize just what is happening, yet you'll no doubt notice the clues along the way. You'll notice something is not quite what it seems. Palmer is really skillful at planting little bits of information all through the film, and his direction, especially in the case of Ruby, feels spot on. As I brushed past earlier, Deila and Mortimer each capture and maintain our attention. Not an easy task considering the weight of the film rests on their capable shoulders. We quickly understand that Tom isn't your typical sick-o, who enjoys snatching woman. Just as we immediately feel the fear pulsing from Ruby, quickly switching over to her resolve to outsmart her captor. I really don't have much to write save praises for these two talented people. A big thumbs up.
"Hippopotamus" is a slow burning film with a kick ass ending. Yet you shouldn't misunderstand slow burning as a tactic, to cover the faults of a micro budgeted film. This title is "intentionally" slow burning - and done well. I also tend to believe that the slower paced nature really allows the climax of the movie to be that much better. And what a climax it is. As the back story is slowly pieced together, "Hippopotamus" makes you believe that the back story "is" the twist ending. Let me just say that's not really the case. Did I like the ending? After the initial WTF moment, and as the credits got rolling, I really stopped to consider it. Honestly? Not really. I understood it. Just didn't like it. There were some cracks in the plot, that I'm sure could technically be explained away as a mental relapse, but even then... I don't know. With everything Ruby learned and remembered - by the end of the film, what the hell happened? It could just be that I'm an optimist. We'll just leave it at that shall we?
Listen. I'm going to sign off by keeping things straight to the point. This was a good film. The perfect example of a good idea brought to life by a great bunch of people. There really isn't all that much more to write. For anyone looking to test the "indie scene" and find out if it's your thing, this is a great jumping point. For anyone who simply wants to watch a good film? This ones for you. Thumbs all the way up on this one. Glad I had the chance.