LFF 2019 Highlights Part 1

It is about half way through this year’s BFI London Film Festival, and some wonderful films have been shown so far. Here are some LFF 2019 highlights from the first week…

LFF 2019 Highlights – Unmissable

The Last Black Man in San Francisco

Joe Talbot’s The Last Black Man in San Francisco is a funny, moving, thought-provoking, and outstanding debut. The film is an embarrassment of riches, boasting a wonderful script, strong direction, great performances, and thematic density.  READ MORE

Marriage Story

Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story is a top-drawer drama with outstanding performances from its leads. The film is heart-wrenching, observant, and very real. With Marriage Story, Baumbach once again proves to be a shrewd observer of the human condition.  READ MORE

LFF 2019 Highlights – Best of the Rest

The Lighthouse

With his nightmarish thriller The Lighthouse, Robert Eggers proves The Witch was no fluke. The Lighthouse is a downward spiral, with a jagged, disorientating descent. READ MORE

The Report

The Report is topical, engaging, and necessary viewing. A story about the compilation and attempted publication of a lengthy report could be considered quite a dry subject matter. Nevertheless, in writer and director Scott Z. Burns’ capable hands, The Report is always interesting, occasionally tense, and at times engrossing.  READ MORE

Saint Maud

Writer-director Rose Glass’ Saint Maud is a unnerving and intense gothic thriller. The filmmaker has delivered an atmospheric and striking debut. The backdrop provides the perfect setting for this exploration of psyche, religious fervour, and obsession. READ MORE

The Personal History of David Copperfield

Armando Iannucci’s The Personal History of David Copperfield is a love letter to storytelling. The film is endearing and entertaining. A warm, amusing, and enjoyable adaptation. READ MORE

The Prince’s Voyage

Jean-François Laguionie and Xavier Picard’s The Prince’s Voyage (Le Voyage Du Prince) is an enchanting animated tale. With its bittersweet ending, the film doesn’t pander to its audience. READ MORE

The BFI London Film Festival runs from 2nd-13th October 2019. See the full programme here.

Film Review: Saint Maud

Writer-director Rose Glass’ Saint Maud is a unnerving and intense gothic thriller. The filmmaker has delivered an atmospheric and striking debut.

Maud, a private nurse, is sent on an assignment to care for a terminally ill woman. Maud is a pious young woman, and becomes preoccupied with saving her patient’s soul…

Saint Maud concentrates primarily on a nurse and her relationship with a terminally ill patient. The backdrop provides the perfect setting for this exploration of psyche, religious fervour, and obsession. 

The focus on Maud alone is a wise move from Rose Glass. Every sequence features the protagonist; the other characters do not exist outside of Maud’s line of sight. That is not to say we see things from her point of view; more often than not the viewer sees Maud as she looks at these characters. Glass situates the viewer observing Maud as she observes others. 

The opening sequence is striking, and functions effectively at pulling viewers in. There is an unnerving feeling throughout, which is intesified by Glass’ choice of shot and the highly effective sound design. The setting also brings forward a sense of isolation and hopelessness. 

The study of Maud is a gradual one. Glass reveals a little more about the protagonist as the narrative progresses. She is a fascinating character; one that becomes increasingly disturbed in the second half of Saint Maud. The themes of obsession and mania are explored in an interesting fashion. Glass wisely eschews providing rationale for the irrational. 

Morfydd Clark delivers a brilliant central performance. Her intensity is perfect for the role of Maud. Jennifer Ehle is also great as Amanda. Saint Maud is a memorable feature debut from Rose Glass. Looking forward to see what the filmmaker does next. 

Saint Maud is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival on October 2019.