New Order – Nuevo Orders (2020)
Directed by: Michel Franco | 86 minutes | crime, drama | Actors: Naian González Norvind, Fernando Cuautle, Diego Boneta, Dario Yazbek Bernal, Patricia Bernal, Analy Castro, Mónica Del Carmen, Ximena García, Mercedes Hernández, Claudia Lobo, Antonio López Torres, Roberto Medina, Eligio Meléndez, Lisa Owen, Kya , Sebastian Silveti, Enrique Singer, Alejandro Sanchez de la Pena
What if the yellow vest movement in France is no longer satisfied with peaceful protests and playful actions to wake up a selfish and lethargic elite? Behold the Mexican ‘New Order’ by director Michel Franco. The thin layer of civilization in this world is melting faster than the ice caps, in other words the head has to come off. This time from the rich skunks and not from the Sun King. Two powerful families from Mexico City come together through a marriage between the compassionate Marianne and the pumpjack Alan. Their big day takes place amid massive protests that turn lightning fast into violent eruptions. A coup of the streets ensues and Marianne and her family clan are anything but certain of their existence. The action-packed ‘New Order’ is a tightly directed and intensely dystopian parable about a class society under immense stress. However, Franco’s failed film is also quite short sighted and loses itself in hazy ideas about social decay.
The upper class in Mexico in ‘New Order’ does not slowly disintegrate because of selfishness and untenable urges, as in the surrealistic ‘El ángel exterminador’ (1962, Luis Buñuel), but mainly because of external factors, including mobile stagnation between social classes. People hardly seem to be able to hop from one class to another, least of all up. What remains for the rest is usually down; rich gets sluggishly richer and poor stays poor or becomes penniless. The violent coup by the masses in ‘New Order’ therefore seems especially in the spirit of the French Revolution, which crushed the ancien régime in order to set up a completely new social order. In addition, Franco’s film has a strong paranoid streak. It is blowing with a conspiratorial and disturbing wind from the United States, among others, that of the fear of a deep state: the existence of a secretive government with shady purposes within the government visible to the citizen.
The mass scenes rise above the rest of the film, especially their mise-en-scene is beautifully thought out. In addition to the cunning near-real-time progression of the plot, the tension is really cut during the grand wedding due to the micro-aggressions between certain groups. Fascinating and in an oppressive way stimulating.
The casting is also terrifyingly beautiful, almost decadent. During her wedding, Marianne (Naian Gonzalez Norvind) is more or less punished for her political naivety and openness to the lowest rungs of the social ladder. Her brother Daniel (Diego Boneta) is pretty much the opposite and does everything for family, the Michael Corleone type. In addition, there is a crucial role for Cristian (Fernando Cuautte), a maidservant of Marianne’s family and of lower descent. During the coup he comes to the aid of Marianne. In the film, the social hierarchy also runs along racial lines. During the release of the trailer and later the film, there was a lot of controversy about this in Mexico, with some critics accusing director Franco of racism and class discrimination.
‘New Order’ starts off strong, but its premise, a 21st century fantasy about a coup d’état, runs through it so fast that the bigger story feels very forced and unbelievable. The film turns out to be more science fiction than the documentary fiction it aims to be. Somewhat soothing of course. Yet somewhere in this barely ninety minute production there is a gripping ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’-esque series.