‘Sanctuary’ Review: A Stylishly Sexy Cinematic Experience

Sanctuary Review

In an age of massive ensemble casts with scenes set across the world, smaller productions have the opportunity to stand out in a unique way. Directed by Zachary Wigon, Sanctuary is a story set in one location, featuring only two on-screen characters. By focusing on its thrilling script, this film manages to be a stylishly sexy cinematic experience that will have many viewers on the edge of their seats.

In anticipation of a new career as the CEO of a large company, a young man has one final session with a dominatrix that he has been seeing for many years. Christopher Abbott plays Hal, the man in question. Margaret Qualley portrays the other side of the coin, Rebecca.

Delivering an utterly captivating first and second act, Sanctuary is a meticulously crafted film that displays a situation that is foreign yet familiar. Of course, most of us have not engaged in the sexual lifestyle on display here, but the fetishes depicted are not the core of the story being told. At its centre, this is a movie about power, confidence and the projection of our internal self. Reminiscent of a stage play, Zachary Wigon utilises many long takes to immerse his audience within a scenario that quickly gets out of hand. Unfortunately, while the film almost ties everything together in a neat way, the final moments of the story feel bizarrely out of place.

Once we reach the third act, the script begins to reach a natural conclusion that would have been the perfect place to leave our characters. However, we are treated to one scene beyond this that is both tonally incoherent but also damaging to the narrative as a whole. These moments come across as though they were ripped out of another film entirely. While this does not ruin the movie by any means, it does prevent it from being a well-rounded triumph.

Despite the flaws in its final act, Sanctuary is supported by a duo of stellar performances. Christopher Abbott and Margaret Qualley carry the picture squarely on their backs, pulling us into an epic story told within a small hotel room. Of course, Zachary Wigon’s direction must be complimented here too as he has crafted a film that is quite impressive for an individual who has only directed two feature-length productions.

Sanctuary is a film that stumbles in its conclusion but soars high in the many minutes that come before it. Exceptional acting and a well-written script make it a narrative worth experiencing. With CGI-filled blockbusters beginning to lose steam at the box office, perhaps it is time that we turn to smaller movies for our cinematic needs.