LFF 2018 Highlights Part 2

With another BFI London Film Festival reaching its conclusion tonight, there have been some fantastic films this year. The best films of the first week of the festival can be viewed here. Below are some LFF 2018 highlights from the second half of the festival…

LFF 2018 highlights – Unmissable

If Beale Street Could Talk

Barry Jenkins has created one of the best films of the year with the beguiling If Beale Street Could Talk. The film is powerful viewing. Despite the age of the source material, If Beale Street Could Talk is incredibly resonant today. READ MORE

The Favourite

Yorgos Lanthimos hits the target once more with the brilliant The Favourite. The film is Lanthimos’ most enjoyable to date. The Favourite is a world away from other period romps. The film is hilarious, consuming, and at times touching. READ MORE

Sunset

László Nemes’ Sunset is a captivating watch. The director’s sophomore feature is an entrancing mystery drama.  Part of the film’s beauty is that it maintains this mystery throughout the duration. Coupled with this ambiguity is a constant sense of unease. READ MORE

LFF 2018 Highlights – The Best Of The Rest

United Skates

Dyana Winkler and Tina Brown’s United Skates is a thoroughly entertaining documentary. The film is a very impressive debut from the directors. What the filmmakers do is tell a story incredibly well; generating interest, emotion and occasionally amusement. READ MORE

The Sisters Brothers

Jacques Audiard’s The Sisters Brothers is a reflective western. By subverting some of the genre tropes, Audiard has created an interesting addition to the field. The tonal shifts that occur during the film are never jarring, but instead enhance the overall picture. READ MORE

Suspiria

Luca Guadagnino’s remake of Suspiria is a sway which builds to a cacophony. It is quite the cinematic experience. The film relies on an understated fear rather than going for the jugular. It is hard not to get caught up in the film’s turbulent rhythm. READ MORE

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Marielle Heller’s Can You Ever Forgive Me? is an enjoyable comedy drama. The film is often funny, and at times moving.  Dialogue is superb, as are the contents of some of the forged letters. READ MORE

The Breaker Upperers

Jackie van Beek and Madeleine Sami’s comedy The Breaker Upperers is a sprightly and amiable affair. The first third is brilliant; the film establishes the main characters swiftly, and there are a lot of laughs to be had. READ MORE

The BFI London Film Festival ran from 10th-21st October 2018.

Film Review: The Sisters Brothers

Jacques Audiard’s The Sisters Brothers is a reflective western. By subverting some of the genre tropes, Audiard has created an interesting addition to the field.

Eli and Charlie Sisters are assassins for hire. Working for Oregon’s commodore, the brothers are tasked with tracking down a prospector who has fled to California…

Based on the book by Patrick DeWitt, The Sisters Brothers is a Western that both adheres to and subverts conventions. The great thing about Audiard’s film is its illusionary nature. At first, the film appears to be a traditional western, albeit with a comedic edge. As the film progresses, it transitions into something else. The way in which director manoeuvres the narrative is quite something.

The protagonist’s develop well as The Sisters Brothers progresses. To begin with, the brothers are set up as archetypes, with the confident drunk and the more sensitive elder playing off each other. As the narrative continues, they develop into more complex characters, shrugging off the previous archetypes. The perception of masculinity is one of the film’s key themes; this is played out in a pleasing manner.

The relationships which are explored are satisfying. There are some great scenes which focus upon this. The dialogue is definitely a plus, with both humour and emotion to be derived from these interactions. The tonal shifts that occur during the film are never jarring, but instead enhance the overall picture. Audiard sets up a grand finale, which would be very in keeping with the genre. Yet what actually occurs is more rewarding.

Performances in the film are as admirable as you would expect from four great actors. Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly are both great in the film’s humourous and more reflective moments. The interactions between Riz Ahmed and Jake Gyllenhaal’s characters are wonderful to watch. Audiard’s direction is assured, and the cinematography captures the vast and the intimate equally well. The tracking shot in the house at the end is fantastic.

The Sisters Brothers is an engaging and endearing picture. Audiard delivers something far more interesting than what appears at first glance. 

The Sisters Brothers is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2018.

Film Review: Rust and Bone

Jacques Audiard’s Rust and Bone is compelling thanks to great performances from its leads and a narrative that engages the viewer.

Ali goes to live with his sister, taking his young son along with him. Working as a bouncer, Ali meets Stephanie at the night club after he breaks up a fight. Trying to cope with a life-changing event, Stephanie turns to Ali for friendship…

Rust and Bone succeeds in maintaining the audience’s interest by taking its time to establish the characters and the turn of events. Viewers should attempt to go into the film with as little knowledge of the plot as possible for maximum enjoyment. This way, what occurs is unexpected and even surprising.

From the outset, it is hard to predict the direction the film will take. Director Audiard takes his time in establishing scenarios. Even in the very beginning it is unclear why Ali and his son are making the journey. Rust and Bone‘s narrative unfolds at a natural pace, allowing the relationship between Ali and Stephanie to develop in an authentic manner.

What is great about the protagonists is that they both appear three dimensional. Ali’s consideration for Stephanie is contrasted with apparent carelessness for his son. Similarly, the viewer’s first impression of Stephanie belies her more complex and endearing character. Matthias Schoenaerts is entirely convincing as Ali. Marion Cotillard meanwhile offers a very impressive performance as Stephanie. It is a challenging role, but Cotillard’s strong performance is compelling.

There are some shots in Rust and Bone which feel like style for style’s sake. A few of these could have been omitted or trimmed. Shots in the water however do add something to the film. The score also works well.

Rust and Bone deserves the acclaim that it has received. Not a perfect film, but a very well executed one nonetheless.