Retrograde Image


By Bradley Gibson | February 1, 2022

Murray follows the mumblecore aesthetic but goes even further with it. Molly’s single-minded mania to the exclusion of every other aspect of her life, along with being either unable or unwilling to gauge other people’s emotions, pushes the film into something we should call “cringecore,” perhaps. It’s painful to watch. One dares to hope this will be a teachable moment for the main character, but this is not meant to be an after-school special (though with a slightly different script, it would make a good one).

To seek treasure here is a fool’s errand. A wise viewer will throw in the towel well before Molly would. In real life, a person with the characteristics she displays is either the most antisocially stubborn person on Earth or on the spectrum. Characters like her, played for laughs, are problematic. Another example is Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory. He’s high functioning but clearly on there.

“…the quality of the writing and production value is good…”

The good news, in the case of Retrograde, is that you won’t be tempted to laugh at Molly. Despite attempting to be dryly humorous, it’s just not funny. The dryness is there in abundance, however. We’re never laughing at nor with Molly. We feel sorry for her (and glad she’s not our roommate). We feel more sympathy for her friends and roommates. Her persistence in the matter, regardless of the guidance and experiences of people more knowledgeable, is both incredibly annoying and cringe-inducing.

Sometimes a filmmaker’s work just doesn’t land, even if the quality of the writing and production value is good, which both are here. Also, it is possible that there’s a specific generational demographic that would find humor in Molly’s obsession, and I am just not part of that target audience. In any event, Retrograde is a planet going the wrong way.

Retrograde (2022)

Directed and Written: Adrian Murray

Starring: Molly Reisman, Sofia Banzhaf, Bessie Cheng, etc.

Movie score: 6/10

Retrograde Image

"…a planet going the wrong way."

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