Sadly, today had more disappointing movies than prior days have. Where Do We Go Now? and Farewell, My Queen disappointed to different degrees. Even so, the fourth day of the AGH BMO World Film Festival still found room for another of the best movies of 2012.
YOUR SISTER’S SISTER
Your Sister’s Sister is so simple, it could be a three-person play. The premise is simple, the plot is simple, the setting is simple. Yet within that simplicity lies a cunning intelligent and wondrous depth.
The story revolves around a Jack, man in his ‘30s (Mark Duplass) whose brother died a year earlier; his best friend Iris (Emily Blunt), who suggests he go up to her family cottage for a sabbatical; and Iris’s sister, Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt), who Jack discovers is already at the cottage when he arrives.
The movie’s characters are incredibly three-dimensional and fleshed out wonderfully, yet are revealed in a very delicate and deliberate pace. The situations, while a tad implausible once of twice, remain quite believable, due in no small measure to the excellent performances of the three leads.
An intimate drama that never feels staged or scripted (in part because it was mostly improvised, with just a rough scene-by-scene treatment from writer/director Lynn Shelton their guide), Your Sister’s Sister is beautifully honest and funny look at relationships of all kinds, viewed through the lens of three likeable and articulate thirty-somethings.
WHERE DO WE GO NOW?
Where Do We Go Now? was a drastic change in both tone and quality. Torn between being a subversive comedy and a modern-day tragedy, it’s divided against itself and ultimately provides an unrewarding and ineffective film experience.
Telling the tale of a Lebanese village where half the population is Muslim, half the population is Christian, and both sides overreact with violence at the drop of a hat.
In what would make for an interesting comedy, the plot is sparked by a boy accidentally breaking a wooden cross in the church. The Christians suspect the Muslims. Then a herd of goats finds their way into the mosque. The Muslims suspect the Christians. Before you can say “misunderstanding,” the two sides are in a bitter and deadly war with each other.
For a movie that is so ripe for comic overtones, Where Do We Go Now? bizarrely goes incredibly dark, starkly depressing, and brutally violent – while, at other times, the women hire Ukrainian strippers who create comic mayhem in their wake; the mayor’s wife fakes a miracle; and characters all break into gleeful song while preparing to drug their husbands. The movie is so disjointed, it’s a marvel it can stand. Where Do We Go Now? has been the most disappointing movie at the World Film Festival so far.
FAREWELL, MY QUEEN
Just six years ago, Sofia Coppola made the high-profile Marie Antoinette, with the memorable casting of Kirsten Dunst in as the titular queen. Her story is revisited and partially retold in Farewell, My Queen. This time, Diane Kruger (National Treasure) dons the pouf.
The movie depicts a few of the last days of the queen’s reign (just after the storming of the Bastille), as told through the eyes of Sidonie (Lea Seydoux), a servant who reads to the queen.
The production is highly skilled from a technical standpoint – costumes, hair, makeup, set design, and art direction are all done masterfully – but the performances don’t stand out and, most unfortunately, the writing is dull. For a movie set during such a tumultuous time, Farewell, My Queen is too often sombre and slow-going.
At the same time Farewell, My Queen was shown, Moonrise Kingdom was also screened. Wes Anderson is the only modern movie director whose work is instantly identifiable through visual style alone, and this is no exception.
The posed, almost-storybook look he gave earlier movies like The Royal Tenenbaums and Fantastic Mr. Fox works wonderfully here, giving this tale of two runaway children in the 1960s a wonderfully timeless feel.
Wonderfully droll performances are also supplied by the likes of Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, and Frances McDormand, all working wonders with the clever dialogue and quirky characters. Fans of dry humour will find much to love.
If the whimsy occasionally becomes a bit overt, it doesn’t hinder the picture much. It may not be quite the masterpiece Rushmore or Fantastic Mr. Fox are, but even a slightly less-than-superb Wes Anderson movie is better than almost anything else at a multiplex.
Day 5 of the World Film Festival will showcase the Canadian thriller Inescapable.