Film Reviews / Indie Film

Molly review: Dir. Colinda Bongers and Thijs Meuwese (2018)

Dutch directors Colinda Bongers and Thijs Meuwese, best known in their home country for working on shorts and television series, have made the move to the big screen with Molly. Described by some as ‘the female Mad Max‘, Molly has its heart in the right place – but can she fill Max‘s big boots?

Set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, Molly (Julia Batelaan) walks alone. Armed with her bow, arrows and backpack full of rations, she traverses the bare landscape in search of food, water and somewhere safe to sleep. You see, while she may be alone, she’s not lonely – she’s being hunted. Opening on a graphic fight scene, we see Molly’s strength put to the test, fighting off her followers then disappearing off into the wilderness.

Cut to Deacon (Joost Bolt), ruling overlord of this new, unforgiving world. Living in an off-shore lair, his personal form of entertainment is using humans as fighting dogs, training and pumping them full of a mysterious drug to transform them into Supplicants – zombie-like, rabid, angry shadows of their former selves. He’s heard of Molly, this mysterious lone wolf, and her rumoured superpowers, and she becomes his new goal. Find her, bring her to the ring, and set her on his competitions’ Supplicant fighters, to prove once and for all that he is king.

We find Molly hiding in the woods, washing on a riverbank, always one eye peaking over her shoulder. With Deacon now aware of her existence, and knowledgeable of her strange natural power, she’ll have to go into hiding. But her plans soon change when she discovers Bailey (Emma de Paauw), a young child abandoned in her parents’ tent after they went off to find food and never returned. Did Deacon have something to do with their disappearance? And what will Molly do now that she has two mouths to feed?

There’s no denying that Molly is packed full of action. Every quiet moment – Molly washing in the river after a tough day; comforting Bailey; wandering the empty fields – we’re searching the screen for a predator lingering in the background, waiting to pounce and disturb the peace. However, it’s quantity over quality, as the (excessive) fight scenes themselves look and feel incredibly ‘amateur’. Granted, this is a small, indie feature, with a reported budget of around $300,000, so some slack can be given. But while other action blockbusters seem to cut seamlessly from punch to punch, this doesn’t seem so in Molly, with certain scenes feeling as if we’re watching the practice run before the final take.

While Batelaan herself is beautiful to watch – an expressive face partnered with an almost dancer’s physique, which she uses to crush her opponents – the rest of the cast fall flat. Bolt may be all-powerful, but the stunted script leaves him to laugh at his own quips, a punk version of The Room‘s Tommy Wiseau (I spent most of the film trying to figure out who he reminded me of).

With the main focus of the plot set around Deacon’s search for Supplicants, and Molly’s mission to avoid him at all costs, there isn’t much else to it. With very little dialogue – and whenever there is something said, it feels unnatural and very scripted – scenes are forced from fight scene to gratuitous fight scene. Ultra-violence may be entertaining to a point, but once reached there’s little reason to stay interested. With a predictable narrative format, it seems as if the most attention was paid to the knife-flinging than anything else.

While it’s fantastic to see such a strong, independent female character take the lead, it’s such a shame Molly doesn’t give us much more than stab wounds and cheesy lines. Mad Max has nothing to be worried about… yet. 

Find out more about Molly and Get Off The Road films here:

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