The Bad Batch

This dystopian drama, set in desert-dry wilds somewhere out West, stars Suki Waterhouse as a young woman named Arlen, who’s one of the titular rejects. Tattooed with a number to mark her exclusion from mainstream society, then victimized and mutilated by cannibals in a lawless zone from which she manages to escape, Arlen kills a young mother whose child (Jayda Fink) she abducts. Pursued by the girl’s father (Jason Momoa), Arlen takes refuge in a heavily guarded compound called Comfort. It’s run by a fabulously wealthy polygamist (Keanu Reeves) who keeps a cultlike grip on his bedraggled and desperate followers by means of tawdry entertainment; there, Arlen has a crisis of conscience. The writer and director, Ana Lily Amirpour, delivers this imaginative tale as a simplistic allegory of the haves and the have-nots; she ruefully delights in the wasteland’s postindustrial wreckage while leaving characters’ thoughts and motives blank. A subplot involving a black man’s attempt to kidnap Arlen is only one of several grotesquely stereotypical details; Amirpour deploys her diverse cast obliviously.
— Richard Brody


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