Best new films out this month

Eva Mackevic 8 May 2022

A raw drama from a visionary director and a showstopping Nick Cave documentary are our top film picks this month 

Vortex 

Visionary director Gaspar Noé turns his subversive gaze to a subject that will no doubt surprise his longtime fans. In his new drama Vortex, he gives sex, drugs and violence a rest, and instead ruminates on the fragility of life and the big gaping hole it leaves behind. We follow the day-to-day lives of Lui and Elle—an elderly couple whose existence is disrupted by Elle’s ever-intensifying dementia.This gentle-natured woman keeps forgetting who she is, getting lost on her way to the shops or forgetting to turn the gas off, all while developing sinister paranoia.

Lui, while doing his best to support his wife, is growing increasingly exasperated, especially when she goes as far as throwing out his precious book manuscripts—one of the few remaining things that bring him the slightest sense of normalcy and joy.

As if making sure we’re equally switched on to the realities of these two pained perspectives, Noé makes the film in split screen, with Lui and Elle occupying half each. A perplexing technique for the viewer to begin with, it soon becomes a vital element of the narrative, lending it a documentary-like feel. We’re there with Lui and Elle in real time, noticing the subtlest changes in expression as they grapple with the world around them.

Vortex is not an easy movie. The scenes are long, the dialogue—sparse, and the emotional weight—uncomfortably heavy. The truth is, though, we need more cinema like this; films that are raw and unflinching while dealing with life’s uglier, brutal sides. We all go through unspeakable hardship at some point in our lives, and seeing ourselves and our loved ones represented on screen is what fortifies us to endure these hardships with grace and dignity.

Vortex is out in cinemas across the UK on May 13 

 

This Much I Know To Be True 

Breathtakingly shot, galvanisingly lit and scrupulously performed: there’s no doubt that this new Nick Cave documentary will enthrall every fan. Following the collaborative process between Cave and his long-time friend and fellow Bad Seeds member, Warren Ellis, it’s a humbling, often moving look at the duo bringing to life the songs from their last two studio albums, Ghosteen and Carnage.

The simple process of recording and working their way through the often-unfinished songs becomes an almost arthouse-like spectacle. The abandoned warehouse somewhere in Brighton that it was filmed in takes on the role of a majestic temple—the perfect backdrop for Cave’s elegiac, funerary sermons and Ellis’ witchy synthesiser voodoo. The cameras furiously orbiting around them (courtesy of the great Robbie Ryan, famous for his eclectic work on The Favourite), the electrifying strobe lights and backing singers’ siren-like wails make for soul-stirring viewing, nothing short of a religious reckoning.

Yet it’s the quiet moments in between the recordings—the little snippets of interviews with both Cave and Ellis—that are the heart of the film. The two musicians jest about each other’s vexing work ethic, Cave gives us a presentation of his ceramic figurines (“I’ve followed the government advice and retrained as a ceramicist”) and reads out a few letters from some of his grief-stricken fans desperate for advice; these are the fleeting beats that make this documentary really sing.

You need time and space to absorb this film—it cannot be rushed. Let the words wash over you, the music penetrate your mind and allow yourself to drift off wherever Cave and Ellis take you. It’ll be worth it.

This Much I Know To Be True is out in cinemas worldwide on May 11

 

Read more: 5 Best interactive shows on Netflix right now 

Read more: Films you can't miss—Great Freedom

Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter