Ben Oliver

Now
Banner image for Sanctuary
film

Sanctuary

I am a person who wins.
21 January 2024

A wealthy businessman (Christopher Abbott) tries to end his relationship with his dominatrix (Margaret Qualley), but she has other ideas.

This is an elegant two-hander set in the confines of a hotel room. It’s supremely confident in the power of its script and the talents of its actors, and while the former sometimes wavers the performances really sell the premise.

You know how when you’re locked in a place for ages you start doing weird stuff just for the sake of it? That’s kind of what the characters end up doing and also how this is shot, with all sorts of colours and camera angles deployed almost just to change things up. It mostly works as a reflection of the mood in every scene even though it gets a little heavy-handed.

I do like how it’s edited, it’s mostly just dialogue but it doesn’t relentlessly cut back and forth in that annoying modern way. There’s one scene where so much of the dialogue is just a single take on Margaret Qualley’s face, even though both characters are having a normal conversation, and you are gasping to see the reaction shot you are used to and when it finally cuts back it’s almost a relief.

Like all these things Sanctuary doesn’t really stick the landing very well at all, but it’s a fun ride nevertheless and a creatively directed showcase of two very good actors.