Limbo Image


By Michael Talbot-Haynes | September 17, 2023

The stark beauty of the compositions is further elevated by their sinister undertones. The gaping holes in the rocks resemble the track marks in the junkie cop’s arm. The uniqueness of how the mining community built their church and motel into the rock and deep underground is put to rich symbolic use. What better visual representation of the depths of a secret hard drug habit is there than someone sitting in a motel room buried beneath the earth? With Limbo, we find expressionism turned up to 11, with people being feasted upon by ravenous shadows. This is so far beyond noir, moving into the dark territory that lies past classic noir into a primal noir not seen yet, the “ultra-noir.” The filmmaker builds the ultimate visual shrine for the lost and forgotten as they sink away.

The stark beauty of the compositions is further elevated by their sinister undertones.”

The dialogue is just as gritty as the visuals. The script pulls all the flowers out of its hair by writing lines that have been stripped to the bone of all that is fancy. The sparse talk is hard-boiled to the point of the toughness of a diamond. The unspoken implications that resonate in the empty spaces between the words are deafening. Baker does a masterful job in this smoldering take on a bad lieutenant. His existential hopelessness is pitch-perfect, coming off as resigned to the fact he doesn’t offer much of anything good for this world. Wanganeen does a wonderful job of showing just what it is like to live teetering on the edge that was left for you. The less she says, the more she acts. It is a sight to behold.

Sen earns his auteur wings decisively by not only producing, directing, writing, shooting, and editing but also composing the mesmerizing score. Limbo is a cinematic monument for the shadows of the doomed. It is the long-awaited elevation of the crime drama, from its inception as throwaway paperbacks and B-movie fodder to its recognition by the French as portraits of the extremities of the human spiral. Now, we have arrived at the next level in the evolution of noir. When the black curtain falls, you will be floored.

Limbo screened at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival.

Limbo (2023)

Directed and Written: Ivan Sen

Starring: Simon Baker, Natasha Wanganeen, Rob Collins, Nicholas Hope, etc.

Movie score: 10/10

Limbo Image

"…the ultimate visual shrine for the lost and forgotten..."

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  1. fidelma heaney says:

    The amazing non verbal acting from Simon Baker adds another dimension to the story and the apparent truth is revealed as the film progresses. It gives a real feel for the situation and the time.

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