There will be few dry eyes in the house at the close of the film, and hopefully many a viewer’s heart will beat with rage at the injustice that good people suffer at the hands of those who follow often pointless rules to a fault and relish their power over the powerless.
Despite this unrelentingly close experience of events, a number of self-conscious shots in which we only see the back of main actress Denise Newman’s head, and a story that is very simple, first-time director Hermanus succeeds in gripping his audience thanks to his self-assured direction that steers the film away from any fake sentimentality.
The sharp focus on Chakra, who appears in every single scene, draws us into his story regardless of whether we feel we understand him. Although a couple of the scenes are haunting because of their implicit inhumanity (the dismemberment of one of the slaves is particularly tough to watch), Buoyancy does not engage in gratuitous violence. Its mostly taciturn central character stoically confronts…
For the film critic, the problem with twist endings is that it is frowned upon to dwell on that final revelation, despite their importance to the experience. Even just mentioning that there is a last-minute information dump that causes us to rethink the entire film is often too much for the reader to handle. It’s a fine line to walk, but neither the critic nor the reader/potential viewer should be overly sensitive, particularly if it is made clear why such information is included.