Brendan Walsh’s film Centigrade takes place almost entirely within the confines of an SUV. As a young couple battles for survival, they must deal as much with their personal dynamics as with the problems they face.
Naomi (Genesis Rodriguez) and Matt (Vincent Piazza) are an American couple traveling in Norway. While on an isolated road, they pull over during a blizzard. When they wake up, the car is completely covered and surrounded by layers of snow and ice. What is the best plan? Should they try to dig themselves out? What will they find outside in a world where the temperature can get to be -30C? Should they wait inside the car, hoping they will be found? And to complicate things, Naomi is eight months pregnant.
The couple faces times of panic, of depression, of desperation, and even triumph. They often come into conflict when they disagree on how they should proceed. The time they spend so close together with no escape begins to wear on their relationship. Secrets and hidden feelings come out. But it is also very clear that they each have to rely on the other in order to survive.
They are not survivalists. They are people very much like us. And I have to admit that in their frustrations I sometimes heard my own voice. Although being somewhat isolated as we all have been during the pandemic is not as dire a situation as is shown in this film, the same kind of feelings probably are affecting our relationships with loved ones. Words that cause pain may come out and not be able to be taken back easily. But the bonds that hold us together can also be strengthened by our trials.
I find it interesting that this film is being released in drive-ins. Viewers will have an excellent sense of the confinement the characters must deal with. (Although, to truly appreciate it, you would have to not make any trips to the snack bar and restroom.)
Centigrade is playing at drive-in theaters and on VOD.
Photos courtesy of IFC Midnight.