Ruin: an elliptical ”slap in the face”

The initial reactions to Amiel Courtin-Wilson and Michael Cody’s Cambodian-set romantic drama Ruin after the world premiere at the Venice Film Festival are decidedly mixed.

Billed as an impressionistic fable about a disgruntled factory worker who hooks up with a prostitute on a road trip after a murder, the low-budget film screened in the festival’s Horizon section dedicated to new, distinctive films from rising talents.

Fairfax Media’s Stephanie Bunbury described the film as “elliptical, full of sumptuous images that can be read as dreams or symbols more easily than as a real-world narrative, backed with a dense electronic score.”

Bunbury observed, “The film may have a small audience, but it's an intensely committed one.” She noted there were a number of walk-outs and there were negative responses from trade magazine critics.

Perhaps, although none of the major trades has yet posted reviews. And Cody has a very different take on the responses, telling IF, "Our feedback has actually been universally positive. There were a few walk-outs but I'm yet to go to a screening that hasn't (and who knows why? People have places to be). There's no doubt there's a great buzz on the film here."

Clearly the film, Courtin-Wilson’s follow up to Hail, which premiered in Venice two years ago, has its admirers. Writer/director Rhys Graham commented on Facebook he hoped festivalgoers “love it on the Lido as much as I did when I got a sneak peek.”

"Visuals, mood and feeling absolutely sensational," said Themistoklis Giokroussis after the Lido screening. "A big thanks to all involved; I hope the film finds its deserved audience."

One Italian blogger writing as 24 al secondo said, “The film is a slap in the face that strikes repeatedly… Ruin surprised by the personal style, capable of alternating and overlapping different registers and the power of images.

“The most interesting [aspect] is perhaps the option of showing the two protagonists… not like the usual sacrificial victims to be sacrificed at the altar of pain, but rabid animals ready to become, in turn, brutal and ruthless executioners.”

Another blogger writing as 24 fois la vérité par seconde opined, “Ruin is a pure visual film that follows the classic pattern of dramatic romances. There are no surprises in the well-known routine of boy meets girl scenario and the directors who are also co-writers don’t try to hide this. Their main focus is not the story but the way to be told.

“Through an extended road trip the heroes travel from the suffocating and inanimate Phnom Penh to the wild jungle of Cambodia. The directors just follow that path by changing the views between [lovers] Phirun and Sovanna. While watching their travel, their story goes through a quite predictive route and there are some twists that just add up some agony to the final result.”

Madman will release the film in Australia. French-based Reel Suspects is handling international sales and a US deal will be negotiated by XYZ Films and United Talent Agency.