Styx is the story of intrepid German ER doctor Rike who’s on a solo sea voyage when she’s suddenly sucked into a life or death situation. What begins as a peaceful vacation taking her from Gibraltar to Ascension Island way out in the Atlantic Ocean, quickly turns into a riveting, edge of your seat morality story when she comes across a shipping trawler adrift carrying desperate refugees.
Styx will probably remind people a lot of the Robert Redford pic All is Lost. Lone sailor in trouble on the high seas and all. But where that film was all one man fighting for his own existence, this one has a woman fighting to get help for a group of dying people she doesn’t even know. As soon as she spots them, she radios for help and is told not to go near the boat for fear that her own boat will be overwhelmed. People are jumping into the water to get away from the boat, which may be sinking. One small boy (Gedion Odour Wekesa) even swims to her boat and she nurses him back to health, but when the coast guard doesn’t come, she takes matters into her own hands.
Does she act the way she does because she’s a doctor, a woman, a human? The moral dilemma this film poses is a strong one. In the middle of the ocean, would you put your life on the line for a group of strangers? The film is also a powerful statement on how the world treats refugees with indifference. Since she’s solo for most of the voyage, there’s almost no dialogue and the visuals have to tell the story. Fortunately it’s beautifully shot and the editing keeps the tension going right up to the somewhat ambiguous ending. Styx is definitely one for the art house crowd. I recommend seeing it on a big screen.
The film is named after the mythological river Styx that separates the living from the dead. And while it is a German film, the dialogue, what there is of it, is mostly English.