Moving on from Harry Potter seems to have been really easy for Emma Watson. Alongside her talented co-star Daniel Radcliffe, she has emerged from the confines of straggly hair and pointed wands to immerse herself in a world of dramas and more. Transforming herself from child-star to adult humanitarian actress, Watson has defied the magical world that made her and became this blossoming beauty, enriched with determination and more. From The Perks of Being A Wallflower to Regression, Watson has a stellar career ahead of her and her upcoming lead role in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast will solidify her as a graceful star performer.
The problem is…Watson cannot act.
That’s a bit harsh because I actually feel that she did quite alright in Wallflower but her visceral expressions, earnest dialogue handling, and enveloping of a character is practically non-existent. Or if it is there, she’s keeping it tucked away from most of her performances, like an invisibility cloak for acting talent.
But she’s not the only one who drags down the “could’ve been superb” elements of The Colony, previously called Colonia, and her development as an actress is hindered by this utterly dull historical romp.
The Colony, technically classed as a historical romantic thriller film because having just one film genre is so last year. That being said the film does try to mix Cold War antics and cults in a failed attempt to provide a rich and chunky story but this may be its undoing. It revolves around flight attendant Lena whose boyfriend Daniel is kidnapped by the Government for creating images in support of President Salvador Allende. Helping find him, Lena travels to Colonia to offer herself to fascist sect and sinister minister Paul Schafer who’s holding him captive. There, a battle of wits and determination ensures.
The biggest issues with The Colony is that there is absolutely no chemistry between Bruhl and Watson and that the latter cannot emote to save her life. This is crucial to the downfall of the film because, frankly, you don’t care about them or the situation that they are in which eclipses the bigger scope and the actual historical atrocity that plays backdrop to this strained, garish, supposed love-affair. It’s not unusual for filmmakers to create a conduit that our audiences can follow and truly immerse themselves into but director Florian Gallenberger’s two-dimensional characters flap around without a soul or personality.
The pair in the midst of this political struggle do not convey their strife to the audience, nor do they speak for the atrocities around them. The insular coupling narrows the empathic reaction to an event that, by the way, really did happen. You don’t get that sense unless you look past Bruhl and Watson fluttering their eyes at one another with a lack of emotion to see the setting they are in, the people who are dying, and those being brutalised by their leader.
The Colony lets down the victims at the infamous Colonia Dignidad. Not even Michael Nyqvist’s terrifying portrayal of Paul Schafer can levitate this up to some sort of brilliance. Instead, the atrocities that actual real life humans suffered are skimmed under the hay-bale to make way for an unbelievable romance. Poor acting, shoddy writing, and simplistic directing, The Colony could’ve done so much more with the elements they had.