“Right now I think the honourable thing is to be a criminal.”

Palpable anger courses through Punishment Park, a condemnation of an American system that continuously oppresses the weak, the noble, and the minority, Peter Watkins’ mockumentary is unfortunately hampered by repetition, a lack of development, and nonstop rhetorical dialogue.

Most of this is taken up by tribunal-interrogation scenes, intercut occasionally with brutal but redundant scenes of the titular park, so this ends up consisting mostly of dialectics, speeches made and speeches taken, Watkins’ ideas thoroughly explored but dramatically drained. He’s got a great premise here, something that could work wonders in a short story, or maybe even as part of an anthology like Black Mirror, but not enough to fill an entire feature, at least in the way Watkins has approached it.

It’s a shame, too, because the politics here are still potent and relevant. And I always love when I can feel the filmmaker’s anger through the screen.

But I was done by about 45 minutes in.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s