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Get Away If You Can

By Alex Saveliev | August 19, 2022

What to make of directors Dominique Braun and Terrence Martin’s psychological drama Get Away If You Can? On the one hand, it slyly subverts expectations, leading the viewer down a thriller path before turning into a feminist spin on Robinson Crusoe. Its battle of the sexes brings to mind Jane Campion’s underrated Holy Smoke, in which one of the characters sheds all of their inhibitions before discovering a salvation of sorts. On the other hand, its odd stylistic and artistic flourishes verge on sophomoric, and the themes, while commendable, feel unresolved. Flawed as it may be, the film is worth a look for its splendid lead performance alone.

A young South American woman (Dominique Braun) embarks on a boat journey with her American husband (Terrence Martin). When she attempts to make love to him, the man refuses. Most of her trip is spent in awkward, isolated silence. But then they reach a rocky island populated by seals. He’s reluctant to stay, adamant about reaching their more exotic destination. “They call these islands ‘The Islands of Despair’!” he shouts. “This is the boat of despair for me!” she snaps back. When he doesn’t budge, she takes an inflatable vessel to the island by herself and sets up camp. His attempts to get her back are futile. Not much happens during her initial time on the island. She scuba dives with seals. He fishes, observing her from afar. She smokes weed and then grows some.

The second half of the narrative stalls to let the flashbacks play out. Our female protagonist is shown feeling trapped in America, disgusted by its superficiality and overabundance of fake eyelashes, with only her understanding sister (Martina Gusman) keeping the young woman sane. Her husband’s malicious father (Ed Harris) doesn’t make it any easier. A raging sexist and xenophobe, he offers his son the following sage advice: “It’s essential a woman knows her place. Establish yourself as the leader… don’t back down. She keeps up with this bullshit, throw her overboard.”

“…she takes an inflatable vessel to the island by herself and sets up camp.”

As a dissection of contemporary sexism and female empowerment, Get Away If You Can makes it halfway there. Braun and Martin – who co-produce and co-write – add some vivid, creative, sometimes unexpectedly funny touches that accentuate their key motif. In one scene, the man brings his wife cooked fish, only to discover her feasting on a lobster she caught. Feeling unwanted, he walks away in the rain, head bowed, into the bushes.

But then there’s a frustrating lack of both nuance and resolution. A good reason is never really given for the xenophobic and sexist tendencies the character Ed Harris displays, other than the main character is a strong woman, and that fact alone pisses him off – which technically happens all the time, but it would’ve been infinitely more compelling if he had subliminal reasons for spewing such hatred. The whole focal operation, which involves “dismissing” her, therefore feels unsubstantiated and borderline laughable.

Braun holds it all together as the soulful lead, never overstating, letting micro-expressions and gestures do the talking. Although the dialogue between her and her husband frequently turns repetitive, the chemistry between the two is undeniable. Fun fact: Martin is a surfer in real life and can’t help but ride the waves in one scene.

What are the filmmakers trying to say with Get Away If You Can? Does the couple achieve a sexual equilibrium of sorts by isolating away from society? Or does the husband get the upper hand, and patriarchy ultimately prevails (this seems to be the case at the end, but no spoilers)? The ambiguity in this glacially-paced but atmospheric and at times striking little film doesn’t so much tantalize as frustrate – only because the filmmaker duo approaches something so much deeper, wiser, and subtler.

Get Away If You Can (2022)

Directed and Written: Dominique Braun, Terrence Martin

Starring: Dominique Braun, Terrence Martin, Riley Smith, Martina Gusman, Ed Harris, etc.

Movie score: 6/10

Get Away If You Can Image

"…atmospheric and at times striking..."

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