Two best friends, Anna and Beth, who take a weekend trip to Big Sur to reestablish a bond that has been broken by years of competition and jealousy. Tensions mount, however, leading to an utterly unexpected yet inevitable confrontation that will change both of their lives forever.
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The 'twisty' elements fuck it up. The 1st hour is beautifully constructed in character relationships and tension, as it's so well orchestrated in the acting, scripting, characterization, and emotional depth that it's everything that this same year's The Neon Demon isn't. Then the two big twists in the final act come and it goes to hell: being unnecessarily confusing and cliche at best, and gimmicky at worst.
While the plot is a little too on the nose in some moments and scenes, seeing both frenemies unravel was pretty exciting and the outcome remained unpredictable until de very end. A sleek thriller with great work by both lead actresses, where the edition work also stands out.
This movie is produced by Sophia Takal, who watched De Palama's "Passion" and said "I'll show you real movie about women's love & hatred." In first act, this movie depicts, like her debut "Green," why women is abused because of just being women, why women love & desire men who override themselves with de palma-esque stylish direction & intense atomosphere. BUUUUUUUUUUT third act is predictable & boring, OH MY.
Always Shine earns credit for achieving the pseudo-horror tone in an ultimately effective way; the two-shot and one-shot cinematography is repetitive for the sake of achieving this tone, which is noticed, but not particularly annoying. Where the film as a whole falls flat to me is the sheer triteness of the subject matter. The seeds of jealousy, vanity, etc. in this context could've been used more inventively.
This film made me flinch. More than once.
A tense thriller that delights in uncomfortable situations. Superb performances from both the leads, who convincingly turn every casual discussion into a lunge for control.