Surge

Surge is about a guy having a total mental breakdown.

Ben Wishaw is outstanding in this nerve-searing, idiosyncratic, spontaneous feeling performance. He looks like every interaction he has with someone in this film is using the last thread of his patience. In November, I got a wisdom tooth out, and the pain was white electric, throbbing through my jaw, it felt like every one of my teeth was about to burst, it snaked up past my temple and into what felt like a crease in my skull, spread across one side of my face, along my cheekbone, and it was too painful for me to open my eye or even my mouth. Ben Wishaw looks like he’s in that kind of pain in every single second of this film. He looks like what it feels like in a microwave right before your blood starts to boil.

The sound design in this is amazing, making you feel like he’s experiencing a full-body migraine. Every noise, every beep, every clang feels like this building crescendo, a complete sensory overload driving him insane. And the way it is filmed is very frenetic and too close, like the world is pushing in and in on him. It all feels very improvised and naturalistic, as though the story beats might be in place, but the journey is being led by Wishaw’s performance. It adds to this sense you don’t know what the character is going to do moment to moment, because he doesn’t know what he’s going to do, because he’s losing his mind. Films that are about a character’s psychology, rather than narrative plot, tend to be slow because by nature they have to be introspective. This is the opposite of that. This is edge-of-the-seat gripping, because this is a manic spiral, and every moment for the character feels like a heart attack.

Teeth-grindingly tense film.