Meet Saila, a punk girl that lives alone in an abandoned industrial area in ruins. But saying she's alone might be a stretch, as she's surrounded by members of a gang. With violence and mayhem this gang dominates the area and Saila will have to stay to herself and survive on her own.
Julia Ostertag's first feature length film is definitely something different. Having seen some of her other short films, the movie didn't come as a surprise to me, but I was expecting something different. What this movie lives on is hopelessness, the apocalypse, violence and survival, and while I will agree that my expectations were very high and at times very accurate, the film is alot more calm and takes it's time to let you breathe in the atmosphere and the feeling of complete loneliness. With a feel that is a mix of punk, post-apocalypse, independence and anger, the movie delivers it's message and stands on it's own two legs as a prime example of a film by a filmmaker that knew what she wanted.
The movie follows Saila. Saila lives in an old industrial area and is a lone wolf. She stays away from a gang of punks (that look like ninjas?) that are the majority of the population at that area. They are violent, depraved, angry thieves. But the real focus of this film isn't of these punks, but of the entire world they seem to live in. Secluded from the real world it almost gives a feeling of the apocalypse and the area is representing the world. And of course, Saila and the punks are the last of the living, with a few exceptions. This alone isn't something that makes the movie special, but it's how Julia Ostertag does it.
Julia Ostertag has attitude and her work shows it. She has a DIY attitude that makes all of her work strong, even when you don't like the movie you still respect what she has done. "Saila" is a mix of this for me. I liked the movie, but it was missing something for me. As I've said before, the atmosphere is terrific, as well as Saila herself, but 95 minutes of this film feels a bit long for the lack of plot and it doesn't survive merely on great atmosphere and attitude. That said, I'm known of not being a fan of films like "Car Cemetery", a film I was reminded of when I saw "Saila". The comparision is not a bad thing on it's own, though.
What it seems most people bring up when they speak of "Saila" (the few that do, it seems to be pretty rare) is the blood-filled sex scene, and I think I should clear something up. It's probably not the bloodiest sex scene in a film, but it is bloody and hot. Julia Ostertag is no stranger to pornography and sex and this shows.
Overall I can't say I dislike "Saila" because there is so much to like, but it's a film that can only be seen if you're in the right mood and it acquires a certain taste. It succeeds with being a well made independent effort with some brains, but lacks a few things I would've wished and is therefor a film I can't praise but can recognize for the things that it actually does succeed with. Fans of films about solidarity, alternative life styles, gangs and such might enjoy this alot.