TIFF 2019: Our Review of ‘Instinct’

TIFF 2019: Our Review of ‘Instinct’

Nicoline (Carice van Houten), a corrections officer and psychologist, switches from one Dutch prison to another. This facility has one of its tough nuts under the name of Idris (Marwan Kenzari). He’s a dangerous serial rapist who, under the permissive Dutch system, is eligible for parole. The whole staff wants to give him parole except for her, who think he’ll rape again.

Some of the people who saw Instinct see Nicoline and Idris’ dynamic as intensely problematic. The problematic part comes from this interpretation that she has an attraction to him, despite of everything. Nicoline’s feelings towards Idris, especially her strange sexual attraction, are, obviously, more complex than that. What attracts her is the idea of him, and it’s more about how she controls herself.

It’s commendable that the writing focuses on Nicoline, her emotions, as well as her expertise. This razor sharp focus does falter when Instinct‘s latter half becomes a fever dream. The scenes in this half is ripe with symbolism which is as problematic as its premise. One of these scenes include a dog which represents Idris which makes me feel slightly uncomfortable.

Which makes me wonder why I’m giving this so called ‘rape fantasy’ movie a pass. Maybe it’s the fantasy part of it, an aspect that, despite everything, it clearly, competently delineates. Idris, or whatever he represents, fills a void and Nicoline knows its definite limits. With that in mind, Van Houten’s performance and Halina Reijn’s direction harness the premise and its intensity.

For more information on Instinct go to https://www.tiff.net/events/instinct.

  • Release Date: 9/10/2019
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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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