Sometimes, you come across an Indie movie that grips your attention from the first second and leaves you breathless after the screening.
Well, Hippopotamus is one of those rare movies. With his latest work, Edward A. Palmer (Heather), proves that there’s no need for a lot of A-list stars, immensely high budgets or dazzling special effects. Just an incredible gripping story and superb performances will do the trick as good, or maybe even better.
Ruby Wattz, a 25 year old law-student from Dorset, wakes up in a deserted basement.
She has no memory of who she is or how she got there. Ruby tries to find the closest way out but, sadly, escaping won’t be easy for her. Her knees are bandaged and she’s unable to walk.
When she comes face-to-face with her abductor Tom, she learns that she will remain captive unless she falls in love with him.
To prove that he will do her no harm, or that he doesn’t have any sexual intentions, he allows her to have her personal belongings she had with her when he kidnapped her.
Despite all his efforts to ease her, Ruby still wants to escape. I’m sure we would do the exact same. Her attempts don’t seem to work as she’s both mentally and physically broken, she can only do the one thing that might get her out of the miserable place: falling in love with her abductor.
When Tom gets wind of this, he starts to treat her like his personal queen. Providing her with books she loves (how does he know what she likes? Is he a stalker?), blankets and even a proper bed.
Feeling more at her easy, Ruby begins to develop (genuine?) feelings for Tom. They even share a laugh, good times and dinners and there are also some rare romantic moments.
Her tricks are proven to work but what if Tom finds out she has been playing him just as an escape mechanism? Well, that’s for you to find out.
If you would have read the synopsis for the movie without knowing that Palmer was sitting in the directors’ chair, you might have thought it came from a director that has been in the industry for over a decade.
The movie is incredibly clever on all different aspects. First of all, it’s the combination between the suspense and the unknown.
At the beginning, we really feel like Ruby: disorientated, not knowing where we are in the film and we also don’t see the kidnapper. We only hear his voice which makes his secret identity even more mysterious.
While the movie develops, we also get to know that Tom isn’t the only one with obscure secrets.
Not only does the story create the secretive vibe, it’s also the movie making itself. The disorientated feeling is made extra powerful by the dark cinematography interwoven with flashy rapidly moving neon lights.
Also, the repetition at the start makes you feel uncomfortable and somewhat on edge but both in a very good way. When the story evolves into the lighter and slightly romantic scenes, the cinematography becomes brighter and more open as well.
However, there’s still the darker undertone throughout the whole movie. The sound follows the cinematography. Quicker, louder and on full speed sound combined with more vibrant and colourful music.
Of course, a movie wouldn’t be anything without great performances and the actors in Hippopotamus do a superb job.
Ingvild Deila, who we might know from movies such as Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Avengers: Age of Ultron excels as the fragile, broken but also very determined and smart girl Ruby. No emotion is too hard for her to portray.
Her co-star Stuart Mortimer (The Subject, Hippopotamus (Short)) is mesmerizing as Tom, the kidnapper whose intentions might not have been as bad as everyone thinks.
We would recommend that you watch Hippopotamus the first chance you get. It’s a dark and secretive movie that will stick with you long after it’s done. Great cinematography meets outstanding performances in a gripping story. What more do you want?!