‘When It Melts’ Movie Review: Strong Potential Gets Lost In Overly Complex Plot
Without spoiling anything, there’s a particularly horrifying and disturbing scene that happens near the end of the film When It Melts involving the younger version of the main character, and the way that scene plays out left me incredibly uncomfortable and disturbed and will forever haunt me.
The use of a hand-held cam and the performances from all the child actors in that scene really enhanced this terrifying moment and was probably the most scared I’ve ever been in a film that is not technically labeled as horror. However, it is because of this one scene that I feel frustrated about When It Melts because as powerful as that scene was, the rest of the film does not even closely match that level of quality.
When It Melts is the directorial debut of Belgian actress Veerle Baetens and follows the story of Eva (Charlotte De Bruyne), a lonely young woman struggling with human connection due to a traumatic event that happened in the summer of her hometown when she was a young girl (Rosa Marchant). One night after her young sister moves out she finds a social media post announcing the memorial celebration for a long-passed childhood friend. Determined to confront the demons that haunt both her past and her present, she returns to her childhood town and faces the people who wronged her.
DeBruyne just won a Special Jury Prize in the World Cinema Dramatic category at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.
In premise, this is an incredibly fascinating idea for a film. While there are definitely moments throughout this film where it lives up to its potential, especially near the end of the movie where the movie truly starts becoming interesting, the way When It Melts goes about executing its premise feels incredibly unsatisfying and unfulfilling.
For starters, while I conceptually enjoyed the idea of telling stories from both the past and the present to showcase how the events of Eva’s past affected her to become the person, the way that the film constantly flips back and forth between past and present did nothing for me other than disrupt the film’s pacing.
Personally, it would have benefited the film more had it dedicated the beginning and ending to Eva as an adult and the middle to her experience as a child as it would not only have improved the movie’s pacing, but it would have also kept me engaged as despite its interesting premise, I was incredibly uninvested for a majority of the film.
This is a film trying to say so much within so little time and had it simply focused on one or two main thematic ideas, it would not only have created a more focused narrative, but it also would have made a lot of the payoffs more satisfying.
There are so many good ideas sprinkled throughout this film, and yet it’s stretched so thin because of so many plot points involving things like Eva’s parents, a girl who rides her horse, the boys who use riddles to trick girls into undressing, and one of Eva’s childhood friend’s mother that the film doesn’t have time to dive deep into any of these ideas in a meaningful way aside from the bare-bones surface level observation.
The film is so insistent on jumping from one plot point to the next to make us care about and sympathize with Eva that it forgot to give us the breathing room to reach that emotional connection.
So whenever Eva confronts her inner demons whether it be her parents or her ex-childhood friends, it’s hard for me to fully invest myself if the film does not properly give me the time to breathe and soak in what the film has to say. And I would be a bit more forgiving of this movie if it was incredibly well shot or had other notable attributes, but while this is not a poorly made film by any means, there is anything about it technically that I would say is exceptional or unique.
It’s incredibly frustrating that a story like this could not reach its fullest potential as with a more experienced director and a tighter script, this could have been a modern classic.
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