Megalomaniac (2022) [Fantasia 2022] 

A woman living with her brother is tormented by her coworkers while he commits crimes she has no idea about. Soon, their worlds merge. 

Written and directed by Karim Ouelhaj, Megalomanic is a described on IMDB as a “film about the weight of patriarchy and the illusion of Manichaeism” which is something some will get in here and some will not as the film is rather open to interpretation. This film explores many themes starting with nature versus nurture, the cruelty of others, how people threat those they see as less-than, otherness, beliefs, and what one will do when given the chance whether it be positive or negative. There is a ton in here and it leads to being a film that may require more than one viewing to fully connect the dots and fully absorb all that it has to say.  

This film requiring strong performances to make it work and strong performances it got from its cast. Leading the pack is Eline Schumacher as Martha. Her work here is strong, powerful, and filled with sometimes subdued and sometimes out there emotions. Her work very much anchors the film into her reality and shows her as more than just another victim. Yes, she is a victim here, but there much more to her and Schumacher gives her the right nuances and levels of emotions and emoting. Playing her brother, or who is assumed to be her brother, Felix, is Benjamin Ramon who gives a colder, more calculated performance which works quite well as a disturbing element and as a counterbalane to Schumacher’s performance. The supporting cast overall here is great, with some of them coming off absolutely despicable, which is exactly what the film needs. 

In terms of look and feel, the film is quite dark, yet very easy to grasp what is going on, unless the point is to make it more abstract. Those images are strong and they really grab the attention whenever they show up. The cinematography by director of photography François Schmitt is creepy, calculated, even brutal at times. The images here mix in with the story, creating two worlds that collide into one screen, two world that create the life of the lead characters. The images here are strong, sometimes disturbing, but keep the attention to them no matter what. 

The film’s images also contain the excellent art direction, décor, costumes, and effects. Everything here seems to be happening on camera with very little effects in post and what there is of visual effects is done effectively and without invading the sequences they are in too much. These effects are clearly used carefully and to enhance more than to replace. Mixing these with the sound design that has some surprises hidden in it for those who pay attention leads to a fully disturbing experience in film form. 

Megalomaniac is a sometimes hard to watch film with some beautifully disturbing imagery thrown in throughout the runtime, some of it downright creepy while other is more just surprising. The film tries to do a lot, fails on some point, but overall comes off as a powerful watch with characters stuck in negative situation, forced to do things they may not have wanted to or perhaps things they were predestined to do.  

Fantasia International Film Festival 2022 runs from July 14th to August 3rd, 2022