Sanctuary: Much Ado About Nothing


Former film critic Zachary Wigon directs Sanctuary a psychological thriller about a dominatrix and her client.

The story, written by Micah Bloomberg, is supported by intense dialogue and great performances by Margaret Qualley and Christopher Abbot.

The film premiered at the last Toronto Film Festival and still does not have a release date in our country.

Sanctuary Trailer and Synopsis


A dominatrix and her wealthy client meet in a hotel room for one of their sessions. Neither of them is prepared for what is going to happen in a night that will change their relationship and their lives forever.

Sanctuary review

Sanctuary It is a production that generates a lot of expectation. We assume that an expectation based on its somewhat morbid theme and with a strong connection to sex.

At Soy de cine we are aware of going against the current with this criticism. Although Wigon’s thriller has received, for the most part, good opinions, it has not finished dazzling us.

The film has some brilliant dialogue and some effective narrative twists, but the inconsistency of the script, its shifting tone, and its anticlimactic ending end up weighing it down.

Less is more

Sanctuary belongs to that group of minimalist films with few sets and actors that are based on ingenious and dynamic dialogues to captivate the viewer. We mean movies like In bed (Matías Bize. 2005), 12 merciless men (Lumet. 1957), The hole (Nick Hamm. 2001), rear window (Hitchcock. 1954), Funny Games (Haneke. 1997) or Fermat’s room (Luis Piedrahita, Rodrigo Sopeña. 2007) among many others.

Here we have only two actors, Margaret Qualley and Christopher Abbot, and a hotel room.

The “in crescendo” intensity of Micah Bloomberg’s script, the fluidity of the dialectical exchanges and the chemistry between the main performers are more than enough elements to keep our attention during the 96 minutes of footage.

an inconsistent script

Zachary Wigon is able to keep up with the movie until the end credits. He begins with a first act in which the information is revealed at the right moments and is followed by a second in which the tension gradually increases until it embraces the debauchery of the last section.

In this final third, the film has run out of aces up its sleeve and the give and take between the main actors responds to a kind of visceral chaos in which paradoxically everything moves and nothing advances.

The end, imagined as a “punch line” (lapidary phrase) feels rushed. A graceless slap received a second before the lights in the room are turned on and leaves us with a feeling of coitus interruptus.

Sanctuary just can’t find the tone

Sanctuary is by turns a thriller, by turns a drama, and by turns a black comedy. The problem is that this combination of tones and moods seems somewhat fragmented and disjointed.

That’s the main reason we haven’t been able to get into the game. Too many emotional states are required of us without transition between them and we end up not knowing what is expected of us as spectators.

Wigon constantly pricks our mood bubble and forces us to build new sensations to deal with the new stretch of plot.

What for some may be an exercise in dynamism and originality, for others it may lead to a total disconnection with what is happening before us.

toxic relationships

Sanctuary is so hyperbolic that it often crosses the line into satirical. Taking the film seriously or trying to rationalize its message would be a mistake.

If we don’t see the movie as the hooligan game it is, we may be tempted to judge its message in ethical terms.

The relationship between the two protagonists is loaded with sexual tension, violence and even a layer of somewhat bizarre love. It is a script directed for adults that has no claim beyond proposing an extreme sentimental experience.

We are sure that Bloomberg’s intention is not to present in his script a type of relationship to follow, even if his characters are, in a certain way, redeemed from their sins and their toxicity in the last act.

the performances

Our opinion of Sanctuary may deviate slightly from the specialized critics.

What we do add to is the general assessment of the audience regarding the performances of Qualley and Abbot. Both are superb and the chemistry between the actress, who started in the industry almost by chance, and the interpreter trained in the theater scene is more than evident.

Although both are more focused on the independent film circuit and their names hardly appear in films aimed at a general audience (Once upon a time in Hollywood in the case of Qualley or Kraven the Hunter in Abbot’s), we have already seen them in several very interesting indie productions in which their work stands out above the rest.

Sanctuary is a very demanding film at an acting level and the emotional changes that both characters go through during the film represent a real interpretive challenge. Both Margaret Qualley and Christopher Abbot know how to understand the motivations of their characters perfectly at all times and provide their performances with the different registers that history needs.

Our Sanctuary Assessment

Zachary Wigon’s second feature film, after an extensive career as a film critic, is more than interesting.

Micah Bloomberg’s script builds a cat-and-mouse story in which the roles are constantly changing, the dialogues are fluid, and the narrative twists are expertly placed.

The great performances of its leading couple (Margaret Qualley and Christopher Abbot) are capable of maintaining interest despite a somewhat inconsistent script and an ending that is as anticlimactic as it is hasty.

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