Directed by Michel Franco, New Order follows Marianne (Naian Gonzalez Norvind), a young bride who is celebrating with her husband during her lavish upper-class wedding. However, when an unexpected class war bursts forth outside their walls, Marianne is taken hostage and her wedding erupts into violence and chaos. As her family works tirelessly to bring her home, the city’s political system collapses and gives rise to a much more terrifying regime.
New Order is an intense and visceral ride that operates as a word of warning to the wealthy (sort of). With brutal torture scenes and truly monstrous villains, Franco does not shy away from scenes designed to make the viewer feel uncomfortable and even horrify at times. Led by a strong performance by young Norvind, Order remains unafraid to step into the darkness of a nation that is torn apart by social division and inequality.
What is most surprising about New Order though is its lack of nuance. Whereas films like Parasite have attempted to create a sense of balance in their portrayal of the rich and poor, Order has none of these shades of grey. In this world, the military and poor are vicious beasts intent on punishing the wealthy with little (if any) backstory provided to the viewer. By telling the story through the eyes of young bride Marianne, the film highlights the innocence of the upper class who live in ignorance of the outside world. As such, Order becomes less about examining the effects of political or financial oppression on the underclasses. Instead, the film focuses on the wealthy as victims and never truly explains what cultural circumstances created this conflict. One way that the film highlights this is that, throughout much of the film, the faces of the military remain largely hidden from view. In doing so, Franco keeps them from being sympathetic to the viewer, similar to the Stormtroopers of Star Wars films.
In this way, the film becomes somewhat of a missed opportunity. While kidnapped victims are treated similarly to the cruelty often received by the poorest of prisoners, including punishments ranging from being sprayed by a firehose to sexual abuse, the potential conversations surrounding these traumas are largely ignored. In other words, rather than explore the initial effects that these sorts of abuse had on the lower classes and potentially led to the revolt, Order simply focuses on demonizing them. (For example, as ransoms are paid, victims who are supposed to be set free are murdered regardless.)
As a result, New Order also come across as somewhat of hopeless endeavour. In many ways, this is not a film that offers solutions but fear. In Order, justice is carried out with violence and retribution as opposed to any form of nuanced conversation and compromise. While that works in the context of the film, it is also feels tone deaf to the current conversations taking place in our world, especially as it comes to issues of poverty.
In the end, New Order will provide an enjoyable (but likely disturbing) experience for those who are looking for an evening of intense entertainment. Admittedly, however, there’s something about Order that leaves the viewer wanting. While the film shows that Franco knows how to create a story that grabs the viewer, so too does it also lose the sort of conversation that could truly make Order memorable.
New Order is available on VOD on Friday, June 11th, 2021.