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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 10.19.17] thriller mystery

Miranda Fall is a multi-disciplinary artist. She takes photos, she makes displays, she does performance art; she's not afraid to experiment. Her already hectic life is thrown into a tailspin when one night she and her lover Paul, who also happens to be her art dealer, spot a woman being abused on the street below Miranda's window. The pair report the incident but where as Paul moves onto his next thing, Miranda becomes obsessed, particularly after she's asked to pick the assailant from a line-up.

Camille Thoman's debut feature Never Here starts as a somewhat straight forward thriller in which a woman, Miranda, falls into a spiral of mystery when she thinks she recognizes one of the men in the line-up and starts to follow him. What begins as curiosity soon becomes her next art project before taking a turn for the weird.

As Never Here progresses and Miranda gets more deeply entrenched in the mystery of what happened and who the victim and assailant were, she begins to think she's being watched. As Miranda's paranoia grows, the lines between reality and imagined become blurred and soon it becomes unclear whether what Miranda is seeing is real or a figment of her overactive imagination and creeping paranoia.

In order for Never Here's paranoia to be effective, we need to believe Miranda and much of the movie sits on Mireille Enos' performance. If we don't feel her fear, the movie is nothing more than a series of ever stranger scenes but Enos follows through with a performance that gets more unhinged with each passing moment.

There's a particularly fantastic scene towards the end of the movie where she's giving a statement to a police officer and as he questions her, you can see her slowly fall apart as she realizes that she's in far deeper trouble than she could have imagined. It's wonderful to see her back in the spotlight after the success of "The Killing."

In her attempt so show Miranda's voyeuristic approach to art, Thoman wallows for too long in the art world. It doesn't take an hour for the audience to tune into the fact that Miranda is a bit of a peeping tom and having the tables turned from watcher to subject puts her on edge. More than that, Thoman's observations on the art world don't add anything new or interesting to the conversation and as such, the movie's second act feels far longer than it is and the movie wanes for a bit before bouncing back.

Even with its slight pacing issues, Never Here is a fascinating thriller with a wonderful lead performance and an ending which pays homage to Michael Haneke without feeling like a rip-off.

Never Here opens October 20.

Recommended Release: Mulholland Drive

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