new order

No one is safe from the mob in grim Mexican dystopian drama New Order (Nuevo Orden)

New Order opens on the wedding of Marian in the garden of her family’s mansion in a wealthy neighbourhood of Mexico City. The ridiculous excess of Marian, her family and their many rich guests are contrasted against the poor treatment of their many servants, drivers and security guards. Festivities run wild all the while news reports heard in the background warn of growing civil unrest in the centre of the city. The party is suddenly and violently interrupted by a group of protestors who rampage through the house shooting the guests without provocation, robbing the rich and covering all of the artwork in green paint. Following several characters who have left the house we see that the rioting has taken over the whole city with wide scale looting, murder, and the kidnapping and attempted ransom of those who appear wealthy.

It’s a deeply nihilistic film reminiscent of Michael Haneke’s work that is likely to offend as many people as it pleases. It contains scenes of graphic violence, sexual assault, and torture as pretty much every character meets a grisly fate and takes a thoroughly non-committal approach to genuine socio-political commentary. The protestors are mostly depicted as indigenous Mexicans rising up against the white elite in what for many would be perceived as justified anger, but the extreme wanton violence from literally every element of society in the film makes it hard to find any “good guys.”

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In some sense I appreciated the grim reality of the imagined revolution depicted in New Order as opposed to the romanticised ideals of something like V For Vendetta. A revolt is a messy business that threatens to destroy everyone. Yes the rich get eaten, but the poor suffer too whether it be through their utilities getting cut off, their homes getting looted, or sweet little old ladies dying because they can’t get hospital treatment during the chaos. It’s a dark vision in which the only motivation shared is greed. There’s also something to be said for the sheer spectacle of this film. Seeing the Zócalo and El Ángel strewn with naked bodies and splashed with green paint in glorious technicolour widescreen is… well it’s something.

New Order feels very rushed at 88 minutes (particularly in the third act) and leans more towards video nasty than damning statement on wealth inequality, and yet, it’s still a wild ride that I just couldn’t look away from.

New Order premiered in the UK as part of the BFI London Film Festival on 16th October 2020

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