Film Review: Buster’s Mal Heart on Netflix

‘Buster’s Mal Heart’ (dir. Sarah Adina Smith) is an eerie, haunting film following Buster, a paranoid mountain man and the events in his life that led to his removal from society in the run up to the turn of the millennium. The film is disorientating, thought-provoking and tragic, helmed by an amazing performance by Rami Malek in his first feature role.

The film tells multiple narratives simultaneously, throwing a lot of what we see into question, creating a sense of mystery and tragedy surrounding the character of Buster. The erratic narrative structure, coupled with an ominous soundtrack and beautiful, lingering shots creates a surreal world where the validity of almost everything we see is questioned. The film also employs subtle visual and sound effects to heighten the unease which leave the audience with more questions than when they started.

The tone created around this film is deeply unsettling in the best way, thrusting the audience head first into the headspace of the paranoid, delusional Buster. The editing and cinematography create an ethereal, almost biblical tone for much of the film, making the otherwise nonsensical actions of Buster seem somehow prophetic. Using a real event like Y2K heightens the relatability of Buster’s character, someone who outwardly displays the fear and paranoia felt by many people at the time. Buster is a deeply human character, and displays traits and feelings that I’m sure many people will be able to relate to.

‘Buster’s Mal Heart’ is a story of a man pushed to the limit by a long string of unfortunate circumstances out of his control. Sarah Adina Smith, who wrote, directed and edited the film has triumphed in breaking conventions and creating something completely unique. Rami Malek gives a charismatic, terrifying and unsettling performance all at once, fully displaying his acting prowess. 

Find the film here: netflix.com/watch

4 Stars

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Covering: Hungerford, Marlborough, Wantage,   Lambourn, Newbury, Thatcham & Theale