Meander (2020)
June 19, 2023 3:00 PM - Subscribe

After getting a car ride from an unknown man, Lisa (Gaia Weiss) wakes up in a tube. On her arm is strapped a bracelet with a countdown. She quickly understands that every 8 minutes, fire burns an occupied section. She has no choice but to crawl into safe sections to survive. To know why she's there and how to get out, Lisa will have to face the memories of her dead daughter.

Written and directed by Mathieu Turi. The main character is French and speaks to herself in French, but she speaks English to nearly everyone else. And anyway, not much dialogue.

79% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Currently streaming on Amazon Prime, The Roku Channel, and Plex. JustWatch listing.
posted by DirtyOldTown (6 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If this sounds a lot like Cube, it's because it is many ways.

(Side note: a hobby horse of mine is that until about the last fifteen-ish years, horror films were often reflexively panned by Boomer general film critics who saw it as a trashy, artless genre. As such, horror films from 20+ years ago often have artificially low RT scores. You will note that the reviews for Meander frequently call it a lesser version of Cube. This film got a 79% fresh. That film got a 63.

Side note to side note: the Final Destination films are the best example of this as the critical consensus for each sequel is that the previous films were superior. This happens, even as the RT scores steadily improve.)

Anyway, this film is a bit like Cube is you took out all of the allegorical stuff about human cruelty and conspiracies and replaced it with... well, it's 2020, so obviously they made it about grief.

It's pretty good, but honestly if you're considering watching this and you haven't seen Cube, just watch that instead.

This is well-made from a cinematic standpoint and Gaia Weiss is a far better actor than anyone in Cube, but it still suffers during the long stretches where she has no one to speak with and just has to endure her predicament.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:05 PM on June 19, 2023 [6 favorites]

I love high concept movies, and I love Cube, and that one-paragraph description is so batshit insane that I need to watch this right away. And to be clear, 90% of the insanity was in the final sentence.
posted by ejs at 6:00 PM on June 19, 2023 [1 favorite]

So we're going to put her in a sealed tube that catches fire, and to get out she'll have to deal with her grief over her dead daughter.


What? It's therapeutic!

... Um... Just a practical question. How exactly does dealing with her personal trauma allow her to get out of a sealed tube that's on fire?

I'll be assessing her emotional recovery as it proceeds. When she's dealt with those underlying issues, we'll let her out. Simple.

Couldn't you just talk with her about it?

Conventional therapy is... conventional. It's boring! There's no thrill. Nothing's on fire.

... You're sure the Institutional Review Board was okay with this?
posted by Naberius at 6:04 AM on June 20, 2023 [1 favorite]

[Discovery Channel guy with funny hair]
It's aliens.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:09 AM on June 20, 2023 [2 favorites]

Agreed that Cube is far more compelling. The center portion of this really lagged for me. Just scene after scene of the actor being physically and emotionally tortured. And then the ending was like "oh, that was all SYMBOLISM," which rubs me the wrong way. I would've respected it more if it was just mean all the way through instead of couching the exploitive elements as art.
posted by mrphancy at 9:24 PM on June 20, 2023

Like DirtyOldTown, I definitely understood the theme of this film to be "humans are mice and aliens are running us through a maze to see if we have the capacity to learn/evolve as a species" -- and I can see how it's a little too cerebral to be everyone's cup of tea.

Otherwise, how could you reasonably explain all the previous versions of her she runs into? Or the fact that she's being revived from death over and over again?

Cube is a pretty worthy comparison, though I thought that film made clear that humans are behind everything that's happening in the device (what with one of the architects getting trapped inside his own machine).

I found this to be an excellent depiction of the destructive nature of rumination when it comes to resolving grief, especially guilt associated with the death of a child. That rumination itself can feel like a trap you cannot escape from, but with the right help, you can stop tripping over the same obstacles and finally start to move forward.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 8:29 AM on June 26, 2023 [1 favorite]

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