Sunday 30 July 2023

Bad Behaviour: NZIFF Review

Bad Behaviour: NZIFF Review

Writer, director and executive producer Alice Englert may have taken on a little too much in this scrappy, messy film about scrappy, messy lives that doesn't quite coalesce in the ways that maybe she would have wanted.

When mother Lucy (Connelly, always engaging throughout) attends a retreat headed up by Ben Whishaw's wispy Elon (motto - "Never give into hope") she hopes to find something deep within that's lain dormant for too long.

Bad Behaviour: NZIFF Review

Before beginning the retreat, she tries to connect with her stuntwoman daughter Dylan (Englert) clearing implying there are fractious elements that need addressing. But unable to say what's needed, Lucy heads to the retreat and to new challenges in the form of Dasha Nekrasova's DJ and model.

It may well be billed as a portrait of whimsical women and an investigation of the complexities, but most of Bad Behaviour teeters between tones of uncertainty and moments of bravura film-making. Both Englert and Connelly rise above their own material with performances that engage, but with a script that barely makes it past overly coherent, Bad Behaviour never quite connects in a way it should do.

It feels unchannelled and disconnected to what it wants to do throughout, and while the likes of Ana Scotney and Marlon Williams add layers to the film, they feel underused as the script battles its own demons to head toward a conclusion.

Lacking a clear vision cripples most of Bad Behaviour and while it's no bad idea to have a film about messy people, its execution feels too messy and too uncertain of the destination to make the journey as fulfilling as it could or should be.

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