A nonlinear storyline—resembling the messy memories of the protagonist, who works at a domestic-violence clinic—intensifies this thriller exploring safety and danger, manipulation and sanity, friendship and enabling.
"A truly risky stylistic choice that Rots, in only her second feature, commits to completely, making 'Retrospekt' a fascinating experience of cinematic dysphasia."—Variety
Mette, played perfectly by Circe Lethem, is a sensitive young woman who lives with her husband and child. She is taking a maternity leave from her job as a caseworker at a domestic-violence clinic. Director Esther Rots' debut uses a brilliant approach to Mette's nonlinear storyline, which unspools gradually like Mette's messy memory. Rots divides her film into three flashback and flash-forward sections—pregnant Mette, non-pregnant Mette, and injured Mette. Rots calls her style of making film "sensory cinema," an emotional editing that conveys feelings rather than sticking to a linear narrative. Sound designer Dan Geesin uses the same style for his Gilbert and Sullivan-like operatic scores that accompany the story. Indeed Rots' domestic thriller is full of opposites—safety and danger, manipulation and sanity, friendship and enabling. All these ambiguities are part of the puzzle of Retrospekt, and a clear conclusion is no match for the emotional journey. In retrospect, a lost sense of purpose caused Mette to bring her dangerous work home. Crossing that line will bring us to the edge of our seats because nothing is scarier in a relationship than a physical abuser.
Dutch director Esther Rots established Rots Filmwerk with her brother, Hugo, and describes their award-winning films as a "balance between experimental and narrative." After Esther's first two independent short films were selected for the Golden Palm competition in Cannes, her first feature film Can Go Through Skin premiered in the Forum section of the Berlinale.
Sponsored by Aer Lingus, Dexter Hayes Apartments, The Seattle Times
- Director: Esther Rots
- Principal Cast: Circe Lethem, Martijn van der Veen, Lien Wildemeersch, Teun Luijkx, Rian Gerritsen
- Premiere Status: US Premiere
- Country: Netherlands, Belgium
- Year: 2018
- Running Time: 101 minutes
- Producer: Chantal van der Horst, Gijs van de Westelaken
- Screenplay: Esther Rots
- Cinematographers: Lennert Hillege
- Editors: Esther Roths
- Music: Dan Geesin
- Website: Official Film Website
- Filmography: Can Go Through Skin (2009)
- Language: Dutch, Flemish
- Has Subtitles: Yes
- Format: DCP
- International Sales: Some Shorts