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By Alan Ng | January 5, 2020

It may seem this way, but Instinct is not an erotic porno, you’d find on Showtime. It’s a serious film with a serious story considering there is an intense infatuation between the two leads. It will take you to a very dark place within Nicoline’s mind. There’s also a considerable social commentary behind it. The first strikes at the controversy behind prison reform rehabilitation and the victims are produced when the government is willing to gamble on good intentions. Instinct also weighs in heavily on victims of abuse and their state of mind when the individual’s abuse is not treated correctly. To describe it anymore would be to give away major plot points.

Overall, the film is a double-edged sword. In a #MeToo climate, it chooses to stand by its controversial story rather than play is safe. This is not a film that lazily says, “men bad/women good,” which is easy to do in fiction. There’s a scene near the end that calls into question Nicoline’s mental state of mind. It makes the point that both leads are the villains, but villains with a past that does not excuse their behavior but sheds light on it.

“You’re continually guessing their state of mind in a true psychological thriller manner.”

Messaging aside, there is such great nuance in both performances of Carice van Houten and Marwan Zenzari. You’re continually guessing their state of mind in a true psychological thriller manner. Both characters present themselves in a particular way when in public, but their outer persona stands on such a fragile foundation they both crumble at the end.

This is one of those movies where you walk out of it and have a lot of questions. Then you’re gonna meet your friends and talk about it. At the end of the discussion, you’ve gone down this crazy, intense rabbit hole. At this point, your friends are going to cancel you immediately.

Instinct screened at the 2020 Palm Springs International Film Festival.

Instinct (2020)

Directed: Halina Reijn

Written: Esther Gerritsen, Halina Reijn

Starring: Carice van Houten, Marwan Kenzari, Marie-Mae van Zuilen, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

Instinct Image

"…It makes the point that both leads are the villains..."

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