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: You Were Never Really Here

Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here is tense, black, and redemptive. It is anxiety-inducing, gripping filmmaking.

Joe is used to dealing with terrible people. He is tasked with rescuing a young girl, who is being held by some dangerous people…

Based on the novel by Jonathan Ames, You Were Never Really Here is a thriller with a dark premise. The film is predominantly a story about a man operating in a shady world. Joe is something of an antihero in that he uses questionable methods, even though his intentions are good. The focal drive is the journey of this character, one that navigates PTSD flashbacks whilst operating in dangerous situations.

Writer-director Lynne Ramsey reveals her protagonist and the main narrative through a series of flashbacks which give meaning and backstory. From the opening sequence, it would be understandable to think Joe’s job was quite something else. Ramsay teases viewers by dangling imagery in front of them; it is only as the film progresses that facts become clearer.

You Were Never Really Here amplifies conventions of a psychological thriller, combining these with a revenge flick. Ramsay’s direction is great. The film builds tension from the very beginning, and this is almost unbearable at times. Ramsay does not offer the cathartic violence some may expect, but it is a better film for this. The music and aspects of the art direction give them film a 1980s feel. This is a great backdrop for which the action to unfold. The central narrative is bleak, but not without redemption.

Joaquin Phoenix delivers a powerful central performance as Joe. His struggle is conveyed with a startling conviction. Ekaterina Samsonov is also strong as Nina, and Judith Roberts is good too. Joe’s journey can be harrowing, yet it is hard to look away. You Were Never Really Here is one not to miss.

You Were Never Really Here is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2017.