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Film Review: Cronofobia (EIFF 2019)

Disclaimer: Having it’s UK premiere at EIFF, I was able to be shown this film afterwards thanks to connections with EIFF and being part of a Young Programmers committee.

Cronofobia (2018) is a Swiss psychological thriller that made it’s UK premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. A film that is almost entirely spoken in Italian, the film uses mystery and secrecy not only as a plot, but as an overall tone throughout. Focusing on a mysterious lonely man and a rebellious young woman, the two go on both a physical and emotional journey together as a second-half twist connects these characters together more than they would ever expect. This film is directed by Francesco Rizzi, and stars Vinicio Marchioni and Sabine Timoteo as the two lead characters, Michael and Anna.

Cronofobia (2018) – source: Cineworx

Coming in at a short 94 minutes, this film is precise and knows how long the story needs to be told. If this was a story made in Hollywood, it would be a 2+ hour film filled with unnecessary plot points in order to get more dramatic performances for a chance to be an Oscar contender. This film is not like that. The shocks come from the smart script, and the short run time helps keep the film at a steady pace. There was a moment where I was losing interest in the story, but right by that moment the big reveal came and I suddenly cared about these characters once again.

The acting from both Marchioni and Timoteo are superb throughout the entire film. There is something that draws you into both characters, yet for completely different reasons. With Michael, Marchioni gives a performance that is not only charming, but soft and saddening to watch. You can see the pain that he has gone through in his eyes, yet he manages to conceal that pain very well. With Anna, there is a dark mystery about her struggles and mania. I cannot pin why I was particularly drawn to her as a character, but there is something so interesting about the way that she was portrayed in this film.

This is also a great idea for a simple little film like this. There is always more information being revealed, whether it is about the characters or their background, there were hints that were dropped before the big reveals came. It made you not only pay attention to try and figure out what was going on, but also care about what was going to happen in this story. I was also drawn to the side plot of Michael and his job, as it is something that I have never really seen portrayed in a film like this. The fact that he is meant to be a mystery shopper in a film filled with mystery is just a great concept.

Cronofobia (2018) – source: Cineworx
The dialogue worked great throughout the film. When Michael and Anna are connecting, you feel like they are having a genuine relationship form. When conflict arises, they deal with it in a way that I would expect people to react to it in that moment of time. Because the characters felt real, it helped my buy into the insane story and twists that came along the way, despite how unrealistic they potentially get throughout the developing story.
I unfortunately did not fully buy into this story and the full development of the film. There are certain moments that I think are overdone and dramatised, and the twist is a big shock, but mainly because I found it to be a little too far-fetched for a world that felt otherwise well realised. After that reveal, I was left a little bit confused on where everyone stood in the situation, and I found myself caring less about the main characters and their choices. The tone suddenly changed once we lost all sense of mystery, and that is when the film unfortunately drops in quality.
I was also not a fan of how the film ends. It feels like there was only one way to make a story like this end, and they commit to that ending. However, it feels rushed and out of place for Michael in particular to act the way that he does, and then suddenly the film is over. Whilst I understand that a film like this is particularly tough to end on a satisfying note, this was not a solid conclusion to the story that we had been watching for the past 90 minutes.
Cronofobia (2018) – source: Cineworx
Despite the slightly lacklustre ending, I did thoroughly enjoy this film. It was a great experimental piece and the performances throughout were captivating to watch. As someone who enjoys a good psychological thriller, this one packed mystery alongside that to create a gripping watch. I would recommend checking this one out if you get a chance to at some point.


Is this the first time you are hearing about Cronofobia, and did this review get you interested in seeing the film? Let me know down below and let’s have a conversation.

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