The Scapegoat

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ based on 1 review.

tl;dr: A tightly woven tale wrapped around some excellent character work that help sell the otherwise outlandish central premise.


Spoilers Ahead: My reviews are not spoiler-free. You have been warned.

I have a mildly irrational fear of Doppelgängers, so a film all about a chance encounter of two men who look nearly identical to one another had a strong possibility of being too freaky for me. Luckily, The Scapegoat flips the usual narrative, and casts the surrogate look-alike as the benevolent and generally good half of our accidental twin pair, whilst the person whose life he assumes is incredibly rotten and utterly blind to it. In and of itself, this set up could have been a fun pseudo-thriller with a touch of a psychological twist. It could have seen the cuckoo slowly fall to the depravity of the very person he was trying to replace. Or it could have become a Comedy of Errors style farce. Thankfully, it opts for something much more subtle. Through our focus on the imposter – who, it must be pointed out, never chooses this path and does try multiple times to explain the confusion – we slowly unravel a web of conspiracy, infidelity, and general corruption, piecing together his host's life one revelation at a time. But how the film does this is very clever. Each character is introduced in a way that appears to validate the picture that was painted in the pub: that this is a family hell-bent on greed and self-serving interests. The brother is abjectly rude to the butler and fully screams in our protagonist's face for simply asking a question; the sister is bitchy and aloof; the wife distant, meek, and frigid; the mother overbearing, spiteful, and distrustful; the sister-in-law is vapid and wicked; the staff are cold, bitter, and sharp. Only "his" daughter (and the butler, to be fair) is largely pleasant, and even here she is, well, weird and more than a little controlling. This is a nightmare family, and one that appears to spiralling the drain of addiction, immorality, and outright bankruptcy – both ethically and financially.

And yet, as he digs deeper into the life he has been thrust into, the story carefully unpicks that picture and reveals the reality beneath. The wife isn't frigid or meek, she's both terrified and genuinely in love. The mother has given up and is hiding in her own fantasies. The staff are concerned and incapable of helping a family they are watching self-destruct. The brother has been beaten into a state of extreme anxiety. The sister is mourning a lover and friend. These people are not really evil, but they have been utterly corrupted by the one individual who all of their lives revolve around. The one who controls the purse strings; who decides how the company business should be run. The one who cannot allow them to have anything that they care for more than they care for him, and so he destroys them in every way possible. They are not the greedy vultures they have been cast has. They are the victims. And all it takes is an ounce of kindness, a moment of empathy, and they begin to heal.

None of this would work if it weren't for expert pacing and direction, backed up by a stellar cast. There's nothing truly groundbreaking on offer, but the little details show an enormous amount of care, attention, and skill has gone into the film making process. From the subtle difference in expressions between the two men in the pub, to the climactic fight which is simultaneously clear to watch and cleverly impossible to determine who vanquished who, leaving you in suspense up to the reunion with "his" wife, it keeps you on your toes throughout. And even then, they get one more nail biter in at the very end, as the head of the house staff makes him, and then bids him to stay. It's a clever film, highly enjoyable; I thought it was great.

Made By Me, But Made Possible By:


Build: Gatsby

Deployment: GitHub

Hosting: Netlify

Connect With Me:

Twitter Twitter

Instagram Instragram

500px 500px

GitHub GitHub

Keep Up To Date:

All Posts RSS feed.

Articles RSS feed.

Journal RSS feed.

Notes RSS feed.