Woodshock (2017)

  • Time: 100 min
  • Genre: Drama | Thriller
  • Directors: Kate Mulleavy, Laura Mulleavy
  • Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Pilou Asbæk, Joe Cole


A woman falls deeper into paranoia after taking a deadly drug.

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  • Sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy, the founders and designers behind Rodarte, venture into feature films with their heavily sensorial debut Woodshock. Starring muse Kirsten Dunst, who also served as executive producer, as a woman falling apart in the wake of her mother’s death, the film may be beautiful to look at it but exceedingly tedious to sit through.

    Dunst is Theresa, already on the verge of despair in the film’s opening moments as she rolls a joint, laces it with poison, and hands it over to her ailing mother. Theresa’s reluctance is obvious – she keeps her head turned away as her mother inhales – but this is the only way she can help her mother die with dignity. It’s not too long before Theresa’s grief and guilt begin to contaminate her well-being. Though she lives with her lumber mill worker boyfriend Nick (Joe Cole), she may as well be living alone for all the time he spends there. Her only other source of human connection is Keith (Pilou Asbæk), who employs her at the shop where he cultivates and sells marijuana for the medically eligible.

    Neither man is a particularly effectual presence given that the majority of the film is spent observing Theresa as she wanders through the woods, sleeping on tree trunks, lying on the grass, or walking alongside a river. Aesthetically, Woodshock resembles a hazy hallucination, a ghostly reverie, a willful evanescence where Finnish cinematographer Peter Flinckenberg gets to run rampant with layered filters, neon flares, shimmering refractions, and nature-themed overlays. Yet, apart from expressing Theresa’s dissembling, what else are these images meant to represent? When a film is reliant on images, those images have to support something, they cannot be only an ends to themselves; otherwise one ends up with an extended music video or commercial.

    Though Dunst is never less than magnetic, her presence actually becomes somewhat problematic since many of the scenes seem designed to recall her work in Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides and Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, far more superior films which married their atmospherics and symbolism to an actual narrative. The Mulleavy sisters are obviously gifted, but they still have a long way to go as far as filmmaking is concerned.

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