SxSW Reaction – CIVIL WAR

The second to last of the big Headliner titles at South By Southwest this year, there was an incredible sea of excitement in the air for Alex Garland’s latest picture CIVIL WAR. With lines starting nearly six hours before the screening, there were thousands of SxSW badgeholders dying to see the latest work from Garland and to also get a glimpse of the cast and crew in person. And for this writer, the mere image of rising star Cailee Spaeney (PRISCILLA, HOW IT ENDS, the latter of which screened at the virtual SxSW 2021) in person was enough to send my heart aflutter. So there was that too.

ABOUT: From filmmaker Alex Garland comes a journey across a dystopian future America, following a team of military-embedded journalists as they race against time to reach DC before rebel factions descend upon the White House.

Jason’s Reaction: A fierce and timely political thriller that is likely not the movie you are going to be expecting from that above trailer. Alex Garland’s latest work has moments of sheer power but it does not offer a total explanation of how society became this way, which made it even the more powerful to this writer. The movie takes the perspective mostly from journalist photographers, one a seasoned pro (Kirsten Dunst) and the other a younger protege (Cailee Spaeny) and functions more of a road trip as we only see what is happening from their perspective. There were moments of pure shock and horror from the audience, and it’s even more terrifying in what you don’t see throughout. The use of sound design and editing here are world class, and no doubt this will be a moderate to large hit when it comes out in April. This is also a huge departure for Garland himself, who tells this in a near documentary style that is a far cry from EX MACHINA and especially his dividing last picture MEN. I can’t wait to hear the reactions when CIVIL WAR is released to wider audiences.

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