playground “captures exactly what it feels like to be seven years old and starting a new school, which is another way of saying it’s the most panic attack-inducing movie of the year,” Robbie Collin said in The Daily Telegraph. Many of the events depicted are “quite ordinary”; The Belgian film’s power lies in Maya Vanderbeque’s “heartbreakingly plausible” central performance as Nora, a troubled new student who must learn to navigate school life.
Vanderbeque acts with “the kind of flawless psychological integrity that would make Daniel Day-Lewis drop his shoemaker’s set,” and director Laura Wandel takes advantage of this by shooting the film primarily from the child’s point of view – so that older students ” Pop up”. To her, adults are little more than “disembodied legs,” and the noise of the schoolyard resembles that of a “war zone.” Due to a ‘brief, suitably frightening moment of child-to-child violence’ playground has a rating of 15, which is a shame as younger audiences would certainly benefit from seeing “such an impressive portrayal of pre-teen life”.
“Sometimes cinema is at its strongest and most compelling when it’s stripped down to the essentials,” said Wendy Ide in The Observer. This “uncomfortably powerful” film is case in point: at just over an hour long, with smooth hand-held cinematography and no score, it takes a “penetratingly insightful” look at the “semi-wild pack dynamics of childhood” without working the point.
The “Hobbesian tooth-and-nail universe of the playground” has rarely been portrayed “so indelibly,” Tom Shine said The Sunday Times. Occasionally Nora asks adults for help, but the film shows that she is on her own; like its French title (And moons) suggests that school “is a world unto itself. A nice film.”
https://www.theweek.co.uk/arts-life/culture/film/956577/film-review-playground Movie Review: Playground (Un Monde)