As the wealth gap around the world continues to grow, the more the inequalities become apparent, and cries for change get louder and more pronounced. That is the spark at the heart of Mexican filmmaker Michel Franco‘s New Order.
While a young bourgeois woman’s friends and family congregate to celebrate her wedding, the world around them erupts into chaos and anarchy (bringing to mind images from last year’s Parasite birthday party massacre). The working class and the poor, fed up with the mistreatment from the upper class and their employers, have had enough and begin to revolt. The uprising is swift and chaotic. Killings are indiscriminate as rioters and looters turn the wedding party and the city upside down.
As the protesters take over the house, the new bride Marianne (Naian Gonzaléz Norvind) gets out right before all hell breaks loose when she leaves with one of her employees to go help another former sick employee. They get caught out in the melee in the streets, and Marianne is then kidnapped by the military and held for ransom. This leaves you to question whose side the military is on (the government/military should be for the people, right?!). As her surviving family and new husband recover, they desperately try to get her back. The state goes into the equivalent of martial law with curfews and still very clear divides between the classes as the working class is eventually allowed to return to work for their previous employers.
Surprisingly (or not surprisingly), many amongst the upper class still treat the workers as invisible or just the hired help with no sense of dignity. Along the way, things go off the tracks, and the two employees who are trying to save Marianne’s life get accused of being a part of the plot as their world unravels and the new source of power takes over completely.
In the end, there is a “new order,” but just not the one you may have been expecting. But we’ve seen this story play out time and time again throughout history with military coups around the world.
From the beginning, the film is frenetic and all over the place. The chaos erupts almost immediately, and we are never given enough time with the characters to form any sort of attachment to help us care about them. The film is as frantic and scattered as the protestors’ motivations and end-goal. It feels as though the violence and brutality are gratuitous and done for shock value with no real purpose, creating a Purge-type feel. Time passes, and both sides seem to acquiesce without pushback, which feels odd and rushed. New Order is intense, but it seems to lack real substance — it’s a cautionary tale that falls short of its goal. Every move feels predictable. The message that if we don’t work together to alleviate the growing divide between the classes, it will lead to chaos and an unwanted third party will step in to fill the void, gets lost amongst the excessive carnage and depravity.