Larissa Brigatti takes her medication.
This clever psychological horror film takes its title from ‘the nocebo effect’ – a psychosomatic reaction to negative expectations of prognosis; something which the film’s main character undergoes.
Directed by Lorcan Finnegan and written by Garret Shanely, the Irish creative partners behind Vivarium, Nocebo introduces us to Christine, played by Eva Green, a children’s fashion designer who is suffering some sort of trauma – she is beginning to see things, suffering hallucinations, perhaps – and, after being bitten by a tick, she contracts a mysterious illness.
Despite being devoted to her job, Christine is struggling to pull her life and career back together. Although she claims that her lucky shoes will help her land the contract that could put her back on the map, Christine is forgetful, and often, due to her ill-health, finds she doesn’t know where she has walked in those shoes before…
And so fate intervenes when Diana, a Filipina housekeeper, played by Chai Fonacier, knocks on Christine’s door claiming that Christine has hired her all the way from the Philippines – something a dazed Christine takes at her word. After all, she has had a few memory problems recently.
From here we are introduced via flashback to Diana’s troubled past. While in the present day, Christine accepts Diana’s offer of medical help becomes more and more reliant on her unorthodox treatments.
Even though at times, Christine passively takes in all that happens around her, it is justified given the context. One could certainly not classify her as a ‘one-dimensional character’ considering all the distress and psychological trauma that her character goes through. Green portrays it nightmarishly, yet beautifully.
The script, as well as being a strong example of the genre, proves itself to be an acute commentary on fast fashion and shines a light on unjust economic hierarchies on a global scale. Added to this is the enlightening portrayal of multiculturalism and the reality of poverty in such a distinct country — our foray into that life led by the mysterious and nuanced performance of Chai Fonacier.
The overall ensemble of this work, along with its fierce, socio-political and ritualistic themes, make for a fascinating watch.
Nocebo is in cinemas from 9th December 2022.