“A perverse game of massacre that knows no moments of respite”: arrives at the cinema today with I Wonder Pictures Sanctuary, the film directed by Zachary Wigon, with Margaret Qualley and Christopher Abbott. To introduce us to the film is the director himself Zachary Wigon.
Two actors: Margaret Qualley e Christopher Abbott. Only one location: a room in a luxury hotel. Millions of words: those of the script written by Micah Bloomberg. Infinite nuances: those of the human soul, of role-playing and power games that pass through sex as well as money.
This, in a nutshell, is Sanctuary (Italian subtitle: He makes the game, she makes the rules), the film directed by the young man Zachary Wigon which debuts on May 25 in Italian cinemas with I Wonder Pictures a few months after the Italian preview presentation at the Rome Film Fest 2022where the director accompanied his film and walked the Auditorium red carpet, and where we interviewed him.
Sanctuary: He plays the game. She makes the rules, trailer and plot of the film
Rebecca is a dominatrix, a sex professional and Hal is her client, a very good client. She is in fact part of a rich family whose fortune she is about to inherit and can no longer afford to have a dangerous relationship with a woman who knows her secrets and her perversions. So he decides to see her one last time and tell her that it’s all over between them, but her attempt to cut ties with her could backfire on her. Rebecca is far from okay with it and she will do everything she can to change his mind.
Sanctuary it is one of those films which, due to its characteristics, could have been a play. “I love movies based on plays,” Wigon told us, “but I also really love the visual dynamism in cinema, and I didn’t want Sanctuary to feel like film theater, I wanted it to be stylistically aggressive. I wanted it to look like movie like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? of Mike Nichols The servant by Joseph Losey.” In short, Wigon was trying to make of Sanctuary “a real film, not an adaptation”. Everything visually had to be “effective but not too exuberant, to support the performances and the material. Many different emotions alternate in the film and if everything works in the script and with the actors you just have to translate those beats in formal language, and try to visually reflect the sense of disorientation they experience”.
A real challenge, that of Wigon, considering that the whole film is set inside a hotel room and that shooting lasted only 18 days. “We had to make sure we had everything we needed before we went into editing, and to do that we did a great and fundamental previsualization work with a software called Cinetracer. In the end what the cinematographer had to do was mount a lens on the iPhone, and then work according to what we had established”.
Over the course of 97 minutes of Sactuarythe two protagonists continuously reverse their roles, reality and fiction alternate and overlap in what the official materials of the film define “a perverse game of massacre that knows no moments of respite”during which “Rebecca and Hal will find themselves dangerously entangled in the last attempt to seize power and gain control of the opponent”.
“For me the spectrum of behavior of the characters was interesting, their psychology and what the film slowly reveals”Wigon explained. “I wanted to build a story that shows the reality of human behavior, that goes deep from this point of view without stopping at appearances”.
In particular, two things were very interesting to Wigon: “On the one hand there is Hal, who feels disgusted with himself, and I found it stimulating to explore the conflict he feels when faced with something that causes him pleasure and shame at the same time; on the other there is Rebecca, who loves the game, she loves playing a role but above all she loves power, so go and see how this power could be taken away from her. A power that”, added the director, “she has in the space of the scenarios, but that in reality he possesses because of the capital”.
Obviously, in a film of this kind, the support of the actors was fundamental. “Margaret looks like an electric guitar”, said Wigon, “he can do different effects and he can change styles very quickly; Christopher knows how to suggest many different emotions that are inside him while on the outside he shows only oneand different from those. We didn’t rehearse much”, concluded Wigon, “I like to discover things on set during filming, I think it’s nice that an actor feels like he’s jumping into the void when they’re about to shoot”.
Sanctuary: a scene from the film Zachary Wigon, in cinemas from 25 May