The Toronto International Film Festival has officially kicked off. Over the next 10 days I will try and report on as many films as possible. For each film I’ll try and give a mini-review of sorts. Since I’m seeing 5+ films a day it’s a little tricky getting all the writing done, but I’m tying my hardest. Here we go.
An Education (Lone Scherfig, UK)
“Where are you from, and where can we see you again?” During the post screening Q and A this question was asked to the lead Carey Mulligan. After seeing this film one will understand the need for this answer. Mulligan, from London, had her first role in Pride and Prejudice. It has taken five and half years of acting experience to get her “breakout” role. And what a breakout it is. Every second Mulligan is on screen she exudes a feeling that most actresses train their whole life to achieve. With the help of brilliant performances by Peter Sarsgaard and Alfred Molina the characters are front and center in this drama. The story follows a young school girl (Mulligan) struggling with her parent’s wishes to go to Oxford. She begins a relationship with a mysterious older man (Sarsgaard) and as we get glimpses into his upper class life questions arise. Director Scherfig also commands the camera with grace. As we transition from her quaint home life to the wild adventures with Sarsgaard’s character everything is handled with beauty and precision. The film doesn’t quite pack the dramatic punch I expected, but definitely one to keep a close eye on.
9 out of 10
Antichrist (Lars Von Trier, Denmark/Germany/France/Sweden/Italy/Poland)
After hearing about the walkouts during the Cannes screening, I was intrigued at the mystery in Lars Von Trier’s new shocking adventure. The story starts with a beautifully tragic scene involving love and death. The swelling music alongside the astounding black and white slow motion shots help to create the best scene in the film. As we head into the forest, cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle, who previously worked on Slumdog Millionaire, creates an beautifully eerie environment, proving he has many tricks up his sleeve. The film does tend to drag slightly until we get into the disturbing third act. Perhaps the most talked about scene of the film does indeed shock and haunt, but it’s an important and iconic scene that shouldn’t be missed. Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg play the couple with perfection as they drift into insanity as the film proceeds. Lars Von Trier has crafted an unforgettable tale about love and it’s many effects. It may take patience to go on this adventure, but if one is looking for a memorable film that devises a boundless discussion, this is one of the best of the festival.
8.5 out of 10
Jennifer’s Body (Karyn Kusama, USA)
With Diablo Cody coming off her Oscar win, many are eager to see if she can strike again. In theory this should be a knock out of the park. We have high school drama mixed with blood and vampires, giving Cody an endless playground of words. Well, it doesn’t quite work. Juno had a playful, childish tone with much of the credit going to director Jason Reitman, who actually produced this film. In Jennifer’s Body the dark elements just don’t mix well with this type of language. References to Wikipedia just aren’t that funny. The worst part of the film is the soundtrack. I should have known by the trailer, in which the bands are advertised longer then the director of the film, that this would be rough. It’s not just that the music is awful, which it is, it’s that every single scene uses some sort of cue during a transition. This takes away any real suspense or connection, leaving one to wonder if most of the revenue of the film will be from the angst-filled teen soundtrack. Hell, even Adam Brody’s character makes a reference to it in one scene. The soundtrack only adds to the purely commercial feel of the film. Not everything is bad though, there a few decent moments of shock and gore. Director Karyn Kusama implores a couple of fun camera tricks, most notably the start of one scene that takes place in a football field. There are a couple performances of note as well. Amanda Seyfriend and Johnny Simmons play girlfriend and boyfriend in the film. Their relationship is one aspect that is quite relatable and a strong point in the film, especially Simmons. Then there is Megan Fox, who Kusama believes is the “only person that could play this role.” She is wrong my friends. I hated Fox in this summer’s Revenge of the Fallen, and that feeling is only multiplied here. The way she talks and everything about her actions reek of inexperience. I know she is trying to be the queen bitch in this movie, but everything comes off annoying, rather than feeling any jealousy towards her character. There is some fun to be had during the film, but with Sam Raimi’s Drag Me To Hell and the fantastic Daybreakers (which I just got out of) there are other places to turn in this genre.
4 out of 10
Check back for more reviews as I have time to post! You can always follow my twitter for instant updates from the fest.