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’Tropic’ review: Dir. Edouard Salier [Fantastic Fest]

The bond of brotherhood is tested to its limit in Edouard Salier’s Tropic. Set in a near future France, Tropic charts the progression of twin brothers, Lazaro (Pablo Cobo) and Tristan (Louis Peres). The pair are both competing to become astronauts on a high-profile mission. With only three spots on the endeavour, it’s a fierce fight between all of the students. Tristan is a lock-in for the mission; Lazaro is struggling. Keen that both are selected, Tristan pushes his brother hard to better himself. His efforts backfire however, when an accident at a nearby lake leaves him with life-changing injuries.


Tropic is a slow, steady, sombre and moody piece that luxuriates in melancholy and untempered anger. Lazaro has a lot of emotions coursing through him. Even before Tristan’s accident, Lazaro is riddled with pressure to perform. With his brother suddenly out of the running the weight of that pressure intensifies. Whereas many story-tellers would focus on the journey of Tristian, Salier keeps Lazaro in the spotlight. A life-changing injury impacts on the whole family and watching Lazaro struggle to navigate his feelings about his brother’s condition unfold is absorbing; both Cobo and Peres give exceptional performances. 

With so much of the film relying on the interplay between the duo, everything rests on the young shoulders of Cobo and Peres. The pair work beautifully together and, although not related, they convincingly play twins. Care and attention has been poured into creating their dynamic, the relationship of them as brothers is immediately communicated. Their early interactions inform where the story will venture later, setting up power plays and imbalances. As their dynamic shifts and evolves, so too does the way that the viewer feels about them. Initially the two are inseparable. There’s a warmth between them that is infectious and Tristan’s constant looking out for Lazaro is touching. This contrasts with later on when a coldness forms. A danger creeps in and that alone causes enough unease to carry the narrative through to its conclusion.

Positioned as a science fiction film, Tropic may have aspiring astronauts as its protagonists, but keeps its feet firmly on Earth. There are touches of sci-fi elements that help enrich the family drama at the centre, but they are kept firmly in the background. Salier’s creation is a beautiful and haunting exploration of both the male psyche and the impact of trauma. 


Kat Hughes



Tropic offers an intimate study of a brotherly bond held together by fantastic performances and complex story-telling.


Tropic was reviewed at Fantastic Fest 2022. Tropic is on UK and Ireland digital platforms from 4th March 2024.

Kat Hughes is a UK born film critic and interviewer who has a passion for horror films. An editor for THN, Kat is also a Rotten Tomatoes Approved Critic. She has bylines with Ghouls Magazine, Arrow Video, Film Stories, Certified Forgotten and FILMHOUNDS and has had essays published in home entertainment releases by Vinegar Syndrome and Second Sight. When not writing about horror, Kat hosts micro podcast Movies with Mummy along with her five-year-old daughter.


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