March 16, 2020

ABIGAIL and the Dub(mis)step
ABIGAIL (2019)
Starring Tinatin Dalakishvili, Gleb Bochkov, Eddie Marsan, Rinal Mukhametov, Artyom Tkachenko, Ravshana Kurkova. Directed by Aleksandr Boguslavsky. (111 min)

Review by Stinky the Destroyer😾

Looks like someone behind the scenes brought a steampunk picture book to work.

Visually, Abigail is a hodge-podge of elements typically associated with the genre: quasi-Victorian setting, waistcoats, biomechanical headgear, goggles, gas-masks, gear-driven machinery and, of course, airships that resemble sadistic colonoscopy tools.

It’s all very pretty, but not enough to compensate for the terrible dialogue, dull characters, histrionic performances and a plot so murky that it’s difficult to figure out what the hell’s going on half the time. In a nutshell, Fensington is a walled city run by a police state, which regularly banishes those who are “infected” with a virus. However, it turns out the infected are actually individuals gifted with special abilities and are therefore a threat to the status quo. The title character (Tinatin Dalakishvili) is your standard emo teen who becomes part of an underground movement in order to find her banished dad, who created the device the government now uses to suppress people’s inherent powers.

Black Sunday II.
Or something like that. The story often meanders aimlessly, presumably so we can take-in the lavish production design (which is admittedly impressive). But the narrative shortcomings would be tolerable if not for one monumentally distracting technical issue: This is a Russian production with a Russian cast, but filmed in English. However, the actors’ actual voices are dubbed over to get rid of those pesky accents and the results are atrocious, sometimes comically so. More often than not, the voice inflections don’t match the expressions of the characters on-screen, suggesting the cast had minimal understanding of their own lines. Because of this, the whole thing plays like an English-dubbed anime.

Abigail looks wonderful and features an outstanding score by Ryan Otter. Too bad it’s in service of a nonsensical story that generates zero interest, to say nothing of the boneheaded decision to placate English-speaking audiences when subtitles would’ve been preferable. Anyone who loves the steampunk aesthetic are better off with a picture book.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bro, this movie IS exciting. Why? because it's prophetic, not necessarily because of the plot or dialog. How could these folks have known that the very year after this movie was released we would have a global pandemic... which governments worldwide would use as an excuse to suppress and control their own people? Despite the problems with this movie, the guys who wrote it are friggin psychics and I love it. 10/10 would watch again even with the weird dubs lol