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Neptune Frost (2021) – Review

July 11, 2022

Quick thoughts – Grade – A – Neptune Frost is a wildly original sci-fi punk musical that will hopefully give directors/writers Saul Williams and Anisia Uzeyman (who also worked as the cinematographer) more opportunities to showcase their writing and directing.

Between France, Luzzu, Martin Eden, Test Pattern, Bacurau, and Neptune Frost, Kino Lorber has been introducing me to some truly unique voices and cinema over the last few years. France and Martin Eden have taken up a permanent residence in my brain, and I have a feeling that the Stephen Hendel and Lin-Manuel Miranda executive produced Neptune Frost has the technology to make itself linger long in my memory. I really appreciate the creative costume design by Cedric Mizero (who also worked as the production designer and art director), which blends computer keys, harddrives and many red, blue and yellow colors together, and the poetic dialogue by Williams and Uzeyman, which was originally intended for a stage musical and a graphic novel (which is still in the works). Neptune Frost also works really well because Williams and Uzeyman made the decision to film on-location in Rwanda. The locations and local extras add an authenticity to the proceedings and help you become immersed in the world. Neptune Frost feels like a collective of artists came together to make art, and after some research I learned that Williams, Uzeyman, Mizero, Tanya Melendez (hair and makeup designer) are all world renowned artists, which makes sense considering how visual, chaotic, and energetic the experience is. Neptune Frost feels like a handmade experience and this is best exemplified by a white-and-red bird that occasionally appears and is clearly being held by someone off screen. It’s a charming decision that put a smile on my face and it proves that the creators set out to make something singularly creative and fun.

The tough part about reviewing Neptune Frost is explaining what exactly it is about. In a nutshell, it’s about a group of escaped miners who flee to a remote village to form a hacker collective that challenges the dangerous regime (The Motherboard) who are exploiting the region for its precious metals. The hackers are aided by Neptune (Elvis Ngado, Cheryl Isheja), an intersex runaway who forms a bond with Matalusa (Bertrand Ninteretse), and the two create a powerful force that threatens change. From there, I don’t want to explain much more, just know that this movie isn’t Hackers (1995) meets Braveheart (1995). The most important thing you should know is that actors Elvis Ngabo, Cheryl Isheja and Kaya Free are totally committed to their roles, and their earnest performances help create a totally unique experience (that is kind of reminiscent of Liquid Sky). The nice thing about Neptune Frost is that you never know where it’s going, and that allows you to sit back, relax and enjoy the journey into the unknown.

Final thoughts – If you’re in the mood for a memorable and unique experience, watch Neptune Frost.

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