[Grimmfest Easter] CROSS THE LINE Review – David Victori Delivers a Nightmarish Adventure
Co-written by Spanish filmmaker David Victori, Jordi Vallejo, and Clara Viola with Victori directing, Cross The Line (No matarás), garnered three nominations at the 35th Goya Awards, Spain’s most prestigious film celebration. The film stars seasoned actor Mario Casas and features an impressive debut by actress Milena Smit. The backdrop of this psychological thriller is Barcelona, and the audience watches helplessly as the characters lose control throughout a single evening.
Dani (Casas), a seemingly sweet and unassuming travel agent, plans to travel the world after the death of his father. However, his plans are derailed during a night out when he meets the goth manic pixie dream girl, Mila (Smit), who turns out to be his worst nightmare. She requests that Dani pay for her dinner after forgetting her wallet but encourages him to follow her to find a method of repayment. After an impromptu tattoo session and coercing Dani to partake in shots, she lures him back into her apartment. Their encounter quickly takes a deadly turn and Dani is faced with the moral dilemma of how far he is willing to go to evade the loss of his freedom.
Smit’s performance is the absolute highlight of the film. Mila is a femme fatale for the digital age, donning all black with platform Doc Martens, layered chokers, and fishnets. Smit skillfully portrays Mila’s elusive coolness in addition to the volatile, aggressive nature of her character. She effortlessly builds sexual tension with her domineering presence. In one of my favorite moments, Mila tells Dani, “We’re all animals” before spitting in his face.
Cross the Line is reminiscent of a Black Mirror episode, called the “Crocodile.” In the episode, an accomplished architect slowly descends into madness after covering up a hit-and-run death, resorting to additional murders to prevent her arrest. Comparatively the film is a bit more nuanced and exciting.
The film’s cinematography by Elías M. Félix is alluring, setting a nerve-wracking tone. The scenes are filled with neon, ominous reds, and cool blues. The tone shifts when the audience peers through Dani’s perspective. We hear his music playing on his headphones, immersed in his world before it is turned upside down. In a moment, the camera quite literally rotates and Dani realizes there is no going back. From this point on, we hear muffled sounds as the life he knew fades away.
While Cross the Line effectively communicates the intense anxiety of Dani’s perplexing decision-making, most of the suspense occurs within the first act of the film. The rest is essentially an hour-long police chase that ultimately fails to match the intrigue of the film’s first act. Overall, I would recommend the film for Smit’s performance as Mila alone. It’s a stark reminder to be careful of who you go home with.