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The Tangle (2019) Review

In the future, everyone is connected by The Tangle, a network of semi intelligent nanobots. Some are in the air around us, others, like the hard drives that serve as memories, are implanted in us. In a future where, as one character puts it, “The world is a searchable database”, crime should be a thing of the past. But it isn’t.

Margot (Mary Jane Wells, Crazy Bitches), one of the architects of this world, is dead. The suspect is a detective named Carter (Joshua Bitton, The Diggers) who used to work with the agents now interrogating him, Edward (Christopher Soren Kelly) and his wife Laurel (Jessica Graham, Devil Girl, BnB HELL).

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The Tangle is the debut feature as writer/director from Christopher Soren Kelly, although he may be familiar as an actor in films like Murder Made Easy, Hoax and The Infinity Chamber. Described as “a lyrical new science-fiction film” it takes The Infinity Chamber’s idea of a futuristic interrogation and then goes off in its own, original direction.

Part cyberpunk, part film noir, The Tangle is a mystery revolving around a twenty-three-minute blank spot on Carter’s internal hard drive. Twenty-three minutes that coincide with Margot’s murder. A murder committed in a locked office secured from the omnipresent nanobots.

And it’s in those offices that most of The Tangle takes place, not in the titular shared unreality. Because as much as the characters talk about technology, the film is about people. Specifically, the people behind the scenes in this brave new world. Before it’s done the plot will also rope in another agent Francesca (Nicole da Silva, Doctor, Doctor) and Cleo (Bel Deliá, The Tunnel) the woman behind The Cleopatra Project, which made The Tangle possible.

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That doesn’t mean the film ignores the implications of The Tangle’s technology. Loss of privacy and mass surveillance are inevitably touched on. As is the current debate of social media and it can influence people’s thoughts, beliefs and actions, because life in The Tangle is like Facebook on steroids, lots of them.

One problem I had with all of this is the film’s dialogue. The Tangle posits a future where the styles of the 1940s and 50s have come back into fashion. What better look and sound for a noir, right? The problem is the characters frequently talk like they’re in a 40s noir with very stylized dialogue. This, when coupled with the fast clip it’s delivered at, makes it easy to miss details about this futuristic technology. Be prepared to give the film your attention, and still need to backtrack occasionally.

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The Tangle is worth the effort and attention it requires, though. Which is why I’ve avoided talking about the plot as much as possible. It’s a mystery, and a clever one. The less you know going in, the better, even the press release that came with my screener managed to give away details better left for me to discover on my own.

Don’t expect much action, do expect a lot of dialogue delivered by a talented cast. Do expect to pay close attention to that dialogue. If that sounds like something you’re up for then you can expect to enjoy The Tangle.

Indie Rights will release The Tangle on VOD March 19th. You can check the film’s Facebook page for more information.

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