LFF 2017 Highlights Part 2

With the BFI London Film Festival drawing to a close this evening, it has been another year of some very good films, and a few excellent ones. The best films of the first week of the festival can be viewed here. Below are some LFF 2017 highlights from the second half of the festival…

LFF 2017 Highlights – Unmissable

You Were Never Really Here

Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here is tense, black, and redemptive. It is anxiety-inducing, gripping filmmaking. amplifies conventions of a psychological thriller, combining these with a revenge flick. READ MORE

Brawl in Cell Block 99

S. Craig Zahler’s Brawl in Cell Block 99 is a brutal action thriller with a great central performance from Vince Vaughn. It is certainly not a film for the faint of heart. The violence is exceptional. It is wince-inducing, and sometimes harrowing. READ MORE

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Martin McDonagh’s black comedy drama Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is well-written, well performed, and thoroughly engaging. The cast have an excellent screenplay to work with. The dialogue is great, and always appears natural. READ MORE

LFF 2017 Highlights – The Best of the Rest

The Shape of Water

Guillermo del Toro’s sci-fi fairy tale The Shape of Water is at times beguiling, at times surprising, and a joy to watch. From the first shot of the film, spectacle is almost assured. And the film does not disappoint in this respect. READ MORE

The Killing of a Sacred Deer

The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a macabre tale which offers the requisite tension and horror. The film is reminiscent of an Edgar Allan Poe story, albeit one rendered in a very contemporary fashion. Lanthimos’ skill here is the ramping of the tension, leading to some awful realisations. READ MORE

The Florida Project

Sean Baker’s The Florida Project is a bittersweet drama. The film is a great exploration of childhood in challenging circumstances. It is frequently humorous, without detracting its the poignancy. READ MORE

Lucky

Directed by John Lynch Carroll and starring Harry Dean Stanton in his second and final leading role, Lucky feels like an ode to character actors. Lucky is highly amusing and will give pause for thought. READ MORE

The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales

Patrick Imbert and Benjamin Renner’s The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales is a collection of most amusing stories. Each of the three stories is a neat length; long enough to feature a decent narrative, but short enough to feel sprightly. READ MORE

Thelma

Director and co-writer Joachim Trier’s Thelma is an engaging psychological thriller. The film offers a strong element of mystery. It straddles the uncanny; for a significant period it is unclear whether the strange occurrences are supernatural, or whether there is a rational explanation. READ MORE

Princess Cyd

Stephen Cone’s Princess Cyd is an alluring character study. What could have been a derivative teenage drama turns into something much more textured and rewarding. READ MORE

The BFI London Film Festival ran from 4th to 15th October 2017.

Film Review: Princess Cyd

Stephen Cone’s Princess Cyd is an alluring character study. The film offers something richer than a standard coming of age tale.

Teenager Cyd is sent to stay with her with her aunt Miranda in Chicago for a few weeks in the summer. Miranda is a successful author, and has not seen her niece in years. Cyd brings a boost of energy to Miranda’s quiet life…

Writer-director Stephen Cone has crafted a charming film with Princess Cyd. What could have been a derivative teenage drama turns into something much more textured and rewarding. The two central characters are skilfully developed, and their relationship is conveyed in natural manner.

The film initially sets up Cyd and Miranda as opposites; from their first meeting, it is clear that they have distinct personalities. Nevertheless, the film offer something more nuanced than the chalk-and-cheese premise. Cyd and Miranda’s relationship carefully, as to be realistic. The talk that Miranda gives Cyd after the party speaks as much about Miranda herself as it does serve as advice to Cyd. Although Cyd is the main character, the relationship with her aunt takes centre stage.

Princess Cyd focuses on a pivotal time in the life of its title character. By coming to a new city, Cyd is able to meet new people and experiment. Cyd’s relationship with Katie serves well to illustrate this. The best thing about Cone’s film is that the change from Cyd’s stay is subtle. Both Cyd and Miranda benefit from their time together, but the changes are much more naturalistic than often seen in this kind of drama. Rebecca Spence is very believable as Miranda. Jessie Pinnick is bright and engaging as Cyd, but smartly reigns in energy to deliver a subtle performance.

Cone has written convincing, sympathetic characters and relationships in Princess Cyd. It will be interesting to see what the filmmaker does next.