2018 | Drama | 95 minutes | German with English subtitles
Rike is a white female doctor working in the emergency section of a German hospital. The job is high stress as Rike is the first responder when injured and sick patients are wheeled in. On her next vacation, she decides to follow her dream and sail solo on her 30-foot boat from Gibraltar across the Atlantic to the remote island of Ascension, the very one Charles Darwin explored and studied. Rike handles her boat expertly as it withstands a furious storm. When the storm passes, Rike spots a barge a few miles away filled with black African refugees…and it appears to be sinking. A teenage refugee jumps off the raft and swims towards Rike. He makes it and is saved. His bracelet is engraved with the name Kingsley; that’s what Rike calls him. Rike frantically radios a Coast Guard ship patrolling nearby. She informs the captain about the barge and the need to rescue the refugees. Without immediate help they will all perish. The Coast Guard’s reply is discouraging. Rike and Kingsley are bereft. Rike slowly realizes that as far as the Coast Guard is concerned, rescuing black refuges is not a top priority.
Why Stream This Film?
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 94%
- Metacritic Score: 78
Austrian Film Award, AT: Best Director (Wolfgang Fischer)
Berlin International Film Festival: Winner, Heiner Carow Prize (Wolfgang Fischer)
Boulder International Film Festival: Best Feature Film
Viennale: Best Feature Film
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Fischer’s direction is elegant and swift, ratcheting the film from serenity to panic with effortless panache. It’s a vital, highly intelligent movie that is both a first-class thriller and a biting commentary on our current world. Go and see it, but make sure you don’t read another thing about it before you go.
The film retains a thriller’s hook in continually obliging us to assess Rike’s tough judgment calls, and may well endure as a representative work of this moment.
A taut moral thriller, STYX is a story of what happens when self-reliance runs into other people’s desperation. The lives of others don’t seem of much concern to Rike, a German doctor, when she sets off on her adventure. Director Fischer refuses to preach or tip his political hand. Instead he focuses on the physical dangers and bodily assaults that Kingsley and Rike endure as the voices on the radio continue promising help and the voices from the boat eerily begin to dim.
Susanne Wolff thrills in Wolfgang Fischer’s visceral, oceanic allegory about personal responsibility in the face of the refugee crisis.
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