Unrest Movie Review: A Beguiling Swiss Film About Anarchy as a Revolution

Review: Cyril Schäublin directs nothing short of a fascinating historical movie with Unrest, which depicts a small Swiss town with shifting ideologies due to the introduction of watches and timekeeping to regular citizens. Throughout nearly its entire runtime, the film is either philosophically engaging or gorgeous to look at.

clara gostynski and alexei evstratov in unrest movie 2022
Clara Gostynski and Alexei Evstratov in Unrest

I never thought I’d be as interested in a movie about 1877 Swiss watchmakers, but Unrest is such a particularly unique film, filled with notable shot after notable shot, as well as a few talking points worth diving further into. It’s softly put together, never calling attention to itself and feeling comfortable lurking from afar and observing unobtrusively the handful of characters that lead to new thinking and new ideals.

A very literal approach to how societal infrastructure can crack without the daily labor of the working class, as well as a fascinating look at the inflection points of new technology. When fundamental changes happen in a territory like the ability to keep track of time on a consistent basis, it directly leads to citizens becoming more intertwined and thinking more independently. In the case of this once-isolated commune in Switzerland, ideologies like anarchy quickly spread through the townsfolk and they’re connected to similar thinkers all over the globe.

Told rather sporadically and sturdily through the POVs of several townspeople, Unrest grapples with how a majority balances the thoughts of the minority – how mob mentality can quickly ostracize middle class citizens attempting to tackle territory and community from a new angle. In the case of this 1877 small town located just on the outskirts of valley in northwestern Switzerland, a watch factory has cultivated a workforce of free thinkers burgeoning on the newfound ideals of unionizing with likeminded workers and thinkers.

I had a rollercoaster ride of emotions watching Unrest. At times, I was completely sold on the emotional connective tissue and thematic points that director Cyril Schäublin was laying out. The movie is dry by nature, but that lets you draw your own conclusions about each of these characters. They work in many different industries, from typical laborers to state-funded patrol officers. The intensity is never turned too high, but there always seems to be something simmering under the surface.

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It’s beguiling and sublime by nature; every shot having its own set of ideas and interests. You can get lost in the dense forest surrounding this small town as it seems to consume the underlying commotion happening under the watchful eye of those in power. I hadn’t seen a movie tackle the flow of information and knowledge due to the addition of new technology quite like Unrest does. It’s fascinating because of the procedural elements that go into tracking time with occasionally unreliable means and tools.

Both Clara Gostynski and Alexei Evstratov give strikingly simple, yet effective performances as Josephine and Pyotr, respectively. Each has their own personal interests in the ability to tell time and communicate efficiently, whether it be Josephine hastily working at the watch factory, or Pyotr needing to communicate across the globe as a traveling cartographer. It’s a fascinating approach through the lens of these two characters, and I often thought of other classics that slowly brood their way through isolated townships such as this (McCabe & Mrs. Miller was stuck in my brain constantly through this for the visual pastiche and unrivaled isolated tone that stays consistent throughout).

It is thinly prepared and delivered at times, forcing you to stay locked in even when the pacing gets a bit too still for my blood. There isn’t much of a conclusive ending either, which will surely pull at the brain stem of some viewers wishing there was a more finite declaration worth sitting through a rather slow movie for. I still found much of Unrest to be either philosophically engaging or gorgeous to look at. While not my favorite of the recent movies to premiere on The Criterion Channel, it’s still another notch in the belt for one of the better streamers working today.


Genre: Drama, History

Watch Unrest (2022) on The Criterion Channel

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Unrest Movie Cast and Credits

unrest 2022 movie


Clara Gostynski as Josephine

Alexei Evstratov as Pyotr

Monika Stalder as Mireille

Hélio Thiémard as Claire


Director: Cyril Schäublin

Writer: Cyril Schäublin

Cinematography: Silvan Hillmann

Editor: Cyril Schäublin

Composer: Li Tavor

Reviews for Films like Unrest (2022)