Fantasia Film Review: Poor Agnes

Poor Agnes - Press Stills-03

Poor Agnes is the story of a functional sociopath in a dysfunctional world. Or at least that’s how Agnes (Lora Burke) herself calmly sees it. She’s got her own private life out in the country, she attends a torture survivors support for ideas, she has stayed out of everyone’s way for a while now. But when Mike (Robert Notman), an investigator, comes snooping around asking questions about an old boyfriend, things start to bubble up to the surface. In a short time, she’s seduced and imprisoned him.

What begins as a dynamic between a psychopath that reverts to her serial killer ways and the indoctrination of Mike into her life. She will ask him to do unspeakable things and eventually he will comply, gradually turning into a willing participant in a rather extreme case of the Stockholm syndrome. But after Mike has turned, Agnes wants to have more fun and eventually she’ll kidnap Chris (Will Conlon) and bring him into the dynamic.

Director Navin Ramaswaran brings us the strange case of a serial killer we almost want to root for. She’s smart, careful and seems to have her own twisted code of what’s fair and unfair as she punishes her captives and keeps order in her own domain. She’s in full control.

Don’t expect Agnes to pander to the audience though. She’s unpredictable, she’s got no empathy for her prey and she has no redeeming qualities about herself. Her dynamic with Mike is one of mistress and submissive. They are not a couple. They do not become friends. It’s a one-sided relationship all the way through. This is illustrated perfectly in a scene where Agnes has sent Mike to the grocery store alone and, well, you have to see it.

Highly recommended but the material will be intense. Don’t expect the subject to be lightweight. The movie never takes it easy on the audience, which means we’re victims of a bit of the Stockholm syndrome as well. Unexpected turns and surprises mean that we don’t get to feel safe. Then again, it’s more fun that way.

That will do for now.

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