Deraspe uses the story of one individual to explore a hefty agenda from poverty, inequality of opportunity and racism to the true colours of a society that seems to set immigrants up to fail and then punish them when that happens. The changes in style are equally dramatic – as Antigone becomes a symbol of injustice there are dream sequences and energetic mixed media montages of campaigns to “Free Antigone” sculpted in spilt screen and fast edits, and set to rap music.
What are people saying?
What are critics saying?
Deraspe follows the classical Antigone story only loosely and her woozy visual style — she served as her own cinematographer — and the film's fast cutting allow for barely any distance, always keeping things in the chaos of the here and now… This ensures that the film's thematic concerns have a contemporary urgency that might have been lost in a more literal-minded adaptation; here the specifics of the story feel timely and topical and yet the narrative core remains timeless.
The very idea of a modern reworking of a classical text itself gets a modern reworking in Sophie Deraspe’s supple and impassioned “Antigone,” a contemporary spin on the Greek tragedy that feels refreshingly liberated by the spirit of Sophocles’ original material, rather than slavishly devoted to its letter. Further electrified by a performance of immense self-possession and dignity from revelatory new star Nahéma Ricci, the clever screenplay injects these ancient archetypes directly into the bloodstream of the modern-day immigration debate.
“Antigone” is also one of the best films of 2019 and not just here at home. After some initial confusion as timelines intertwine and characters are introduced, Deraspe settles into a gripping portrait of a family in crisis, a heroic tale of sibling loyalty, and a searing indictment of an immigration and justice system that is big on law and order but short on compassion.