There is something insidious about the act of knocking. It immediately carries with it the weight of someone wanting to come in…. or to pass along a message. There is something that is briefly petrifying about the act of knocking to the person hearing the cautious and sudden little demand of intrusion. Frida Kempff’s Knocking is a harrowing paranoid journey that doesn’t allow its character or its audience to catch its breath or realize their footing.
Knocking follows Molly a woman who is trying to gather her life back together after some time in a psychiatric ward, following a breakdown. She begins piecing her life together by way of comfort amenities. She lives alone, but tries eating healthy and even picks some plants to liven up the place.
However, Molly’s life is very lonely. It’s tremendously heartbreaking to see her as alone as she is. A feeling that is well directed by Kempff. She frames Molly and the world around her incredibly well and to great effect. The loneliness seethes and the paranoia is palpable.
It isn’t long before Molly begins hearing a series of knocks coming from upstairs. She checks with her upstairs neighbors but she is passed off and ignored. The knocking however persists nightly.
It isn’t long before Molly begins trying to discover out who is knocking. She begins to believe that its Morse code and that its someone asking for help. Again, Kempff is on top of the visuals to represent Molly’s possible decent into another bout with psychosis. She mixes it nicely with Molly’s very real and very concerned curiosity about who might need help.
Knocking is part Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, part Roman Polanski’s Repulsion and part Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem For a Dream. Both visually and narratively its a true feat. It manages to constantly ramp up the fear and our genuine concern for Molly. Are you witnessing Molly’s mind betray her? Or, are you watching Molly truly save someone who is in trouble? Is the knocking real? The film places you kicking and screaming right next to Molly. It never allows you to leave her side. The audience is in for the ride, the paranoia and whatever might come with that.
Knocking lead, Cecilia Milocco is incredible and a true force as Molly. She has this intense and vulnerable approach to the character that makes us side with her for better or worse. She gives an incredibly beautiful and harrowing performance.
Knocking is a paranoid masterpiece that is constantly seeking puzzle pieces of sanity and hope that aren’t recovered. Milocco is a force all her own and one that manages to carry the audience with her even when they would like to turn and run… and even when we collectively want to comfort her. Knocking is a truly fascinating exploration of a portrait of paranoia and the need we all have to be listened to and believed. Kempff’s fragile balance is a tightrope that the audience has to traverse and because of that Kempff’s Knocking is truly fantastic and totally it’s own panic attacked unique finger print.