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Staff & contributors

Challenging, strange, and utterly captivating from start to finish, Sanctuary takes the relationship between a pathetic, wealthy man and a desperate, plucky young woman—a relationship built on consensual acts of sexual humiliation—and makes it so much more dynamic and entertaining than it has any right to be. The film takes place entirely in one hotel suite over the course of one night, becoming a series of increasingly absurd psychological scenarios, as the characters wrestle over ideas of power, shame, and identity by concealing and roleplaying various parts of themselves. It's a wild take on several different genres that director Zachary Wigon is able to effortlessly weave together with excellent pacing, stunning visuals, and two truly committed performances from Christopher Abbott and a wonderfully unhinged Margaret Qualley.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance, Thriller

Actor: Christopher Abbott, Margaret Qualley

Director: Zachary Wigon

Anyone who’s seen Pietro Marcello’s Martin Eden will likely recognize the director’s fingerprints all over Scarlet. There’s the same haunting collage of colorized archival documentary footage and fictional scenes here, the same fascination with physical labor and historical moments of transition, the same loose approach to literary adaptation. Scarlet’s story is drawn from a 1923 Russian adventure novel but the action is transposed to post-WW1 rural France, where soldier Raphaël (Raphaël Thiéry) returns from the war to discover his wife has died and left him with a daughter, Juliette (Juliette Jouan). The local townsfolk reject the duo, but they manage to keep their head above water thanks to a kindly landlady with a storybook belief in magic and Raphael’s Geppetto-like skills at whittling beautiful toys from blank blocks of wood.

The fairy tale touches don’t stop there: the color grading and bucolic setting give the movie the look and texture of a fable, while Juliette is enraptured by a prophecy — given to her by a witchy forest woman — that tells her she’ll one day be swept away by scarlet sails in the sky. It’s a charming, if airy, yarn, but the craftsmanship in front of and behind the camera makes Scarlet a gorgeous escape.

Genre: Drama, History, Romance

Actor: Anne-Lise Heimburger, Annette Trumel, Antonin Stahly-Vishwanadan, Arthur Orcier, Bernard Blancan, Boris Gillot, Ernst Umhauer, François Négret, Iliana Zabeth, Juliette Jouan, Karim Rouabah, Lolita Chammah, Louis Garrel, Natascha Wiese, Noémie Lvovsky, Pierre Nisse, Raphaël Thiéry, Rémy Roubakha, Vincent Pietton, Yolande Moreau

Director: Pietro Marcello