“When It Melts” review: a lurid coming-of-age film

It’s not a spoiler to say that Veerle Baetens poster When it melts It is a scam. No one in this movie ever puts a gun to their head. In fact, not a single gun is seen throughout its duration. But this image, evocative of both suicide and Russian roulette, is a clever key to the dark propulsion of this seemingly faithful adaptation of Lize Spit’s 2015 debut novel, as it is a film that lives and dies by to the games he plays with the public.

When it melts he lingers quietly with Eva (Charlotte De Bruyne), a young woman living in Brussels with a secret trauma that colors her perceptions, even her every move. From the way she stops and leans against a building, letting a group of rowdy people pass her on the street to avoid a possible confrontation, you can tell that there was a time when she wished she could control herself in the same way. Standing on the balcony of her apartment, looking down on the street, you feel her compulsion to jump. But first there’s work to do, and he appears to be dealing with the huge block of ice that Eva puts in the trunk of her car.

It’s easy to forget that block of ice, because you won’t see it again for another 90 minutes. Even when it turns out that ice is an integral part of a game three childhood friends played, you may not find yourself drawing any links between the past and the present because When it meltsas written by Baetens, Spit, and Maarten Loix, it’s already setting off more calculated teases, slowly piling one on top of the other to distract us from its narrative scent.

As Eva leaves for the city of her youth, to attend a memorial event for the brother of one of her childhood friends, the film flashes back to a time when these friends were first shocked by that death. Once the adult Eve has been largely relegated to a framing device, she descends a certain calm When it melts, which does a great job of simply observing the sensibilities of young children, as well as the difficult relationship between a young Eva (Rosa Marchant) and her mother (Naomi Velissariou). It’s also attuned to how difference shapes our experiences and perspectives, and how the staggering pubescent lust can rewrite friendships.

But each time the movie flashes back to the present, it gets harder and harder to shrug off the fact that he doesn’t mind truly sitting through Eve’s trauma, because he’s too busy hiding his source’s “why” for entertainment purposes. In the process, When it melts it takes on a lurid quality, as we wait for the adult Eva, a blank slate for most of the film, to have meaning inscribed on her by whatever the great drama of her young life wants to reveal about her.

When it melts it’s not a thriller per se, but it certainly excites the possibility of what could happen to more than just Eva. Though you find yourself figuring out how and why Eva is forced to play a game with her friends Tim (Anthony Vyt) and Laurens (Matthijs Meertens) whose aim is to make the other girls strip naked, some uncertainty, as in the truth about the death of a horse : The leaden, sickening feeling that a trigger is about to be released worsens.

And it is, in a scene that explains why When it melts, which, regardless of its fidelity to the novel, was written with a screenwriter’s sure knack for manipulation, will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival with something of a caveat. It’s easy to imagine that caveat not being needed in a film that’s less restrained, more concerned with resilience in the face of trauma. But this is fixed in portraying sexual assault as a lamb led to the slaughter: the violation as one for the public itself. That makes When it meltsThe ending of seems especially gratuitous, as the one trajectory the filmmakers are interested in above all else is how to break down our borders so that we, too, feel the ice slowly melting beneath our feet.


Launch: Charlotte De Bruyne, Rosa Marchant, Matthijs Meertens, Anthony Vyt, Simon Van Buyten, Spencer Bogaert, Naomi Velissariou, Sebastien Dewaele, Femke Van der Steen, Amber Metdepenningen Director: Veerle Baetens Screenwriter: Veerle Baetens, Maarten Loix, Lize Spit Execution time: 111 mins Assessment: NO Year: 2023

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