Answers the question, “What if X-Men’s story of Xavier and Magneto — mutant Others with remarkable powers trying to decide how to live in a normie world that hates and/or fears them — was played out, not between handsome youngsters (McEvoy and Fassbender) or dignified oldsters (Stewart and McKellan), but a pair of middle-aged genuine oddballs with highly unusual facial features, ungainly physiques, and the cramped social sensibilities that come from a life spent as a genuine outcast?” Also drags the resultant struggle from the realm of CGI supergestures into far more personal territory, such as when the wickedly grinning Vore invites the horrified-but-fascinated Tina to join him in his woodsy maggot snacking. Or when he tells her that her “deformed” genitalia is, in fact, perfect. Or when his revelations force her to reassess the fundamental relationships that have thus far given her meaning and stability. Director and co-writer Ali Abbasi’s film is a murky, unsettling watch — but however unsettling, it remains gripping and affecting, its viscerality covering for its occasional elisions. (2018) — Matthew Lickona
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