Critique of Brendan Walsh’s “Centigrade” (2020)

Review of “Centigrade” (2020) by Brendan Walsh with Genesis Rodriguez and Vincent Piazza.

The American novelist Naomi (Génesis Rodríguez), eight months pregnant, and her husband Matt (Vincent Piazza) travel to Norway for a small tour with their book. Before arriving at his hotel, Matt parks his rental Land Rover on the side of the road to wait for the blizzard to pass, only to fall asleep. When Naomi wakes up with the windows covered in ice and unable to open the passenger door, she is the first to discover that they are trapped and will not be able to get out. Their cell phone has no service, but they have enough food and water to last them for a few days. Naomi and Matt have different plans in mind: she wants to seize her opportunities, break the glass and dig through the snow, but he prefers them to wait for someone to find them, as they could freeze to death once they get out anyway. Days turn into weeks, and if dehydration, frostbite, hypothermia, and malnutrition weren’t already upping the ante, Naomi is likely going to have her baby in that car.

At first, the couple is attentive to the needs of their spouse and does their best to accommodate the little things that might otherwise bother them, taking the situation into account. However, the space they have to move is small, and soon paranoia drags them down and begins to unravel husband and wife as the days go by and all hope seems lost. When they disagree on how to move forward and with Naomi’s pregnancy in the forefront of concern, bold decisions must be made that could end up being the difference between a cold death in the elements if they are released or a slow decline in the car if. they decide to stay where they are. Staying in the car has created an igloo effect that keeps them relatively safe, but would breaking a window and chasing the urge to get out help your overall chances?

Fortunately, Centigrade he’s genuinely successful when it comes to his images, if only because there aren’t many to talk about. Cutting into shots of the time outside the car seemed to break the movie’s claustrophobia at times, but the movie succeeds in making you feel like you’re really stuck in this cold car with these cold characters, and want to get out now. The director, Brendan Walsh, stages the vehicle in a way that feels both constricting and expansive in moments where you get the eventual rationing of space between each row of seats and the trunk, making everything feel like different areas of a much larger room. It’s a dichotomy that was impressive to see in the filmmaker’s debut feature and in such a small-scale film.

Adding to the skillful direction, the intelligent staging of the characters within the limited space (one shot has their heads at different distances and they seem united). However, behind the claustrophobic tension, multiple wide shots of the landscape surrounding the car. On a narrative and formal level, then, the lack of confidence in the simplicity of the material is really the key issue with Centigrade.

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Critique of Brendan Walsh’s “Centigrade” (2020)