TIFF 2010 Day 5

OUR DAY WILL COME France 3 cats A sullen redheaded teen meets up with an even odder redheaded man and they spin their shared perceptions/delusions of persecution into a fevered roadtrip, seeking the Isle of Dreams - Ireland, land of redheads. Directorial debut of Costa Gravas' son, Romain, who has done several music videos including M.I.A's controversial Born Free, in which redheads also played a key role (the vid being a precursor and inspiration of sorts for the film). Vincent Cassel, who plays the older redhead, clearly had a manic-depressive ball playing this character. In my second theme of the festival, the lead is fairly unlikeable - then again, so is Cassel - despite it being noted that this was a disturbed kid before the fateful meet-up with the older guy, who is a true misanthrope with a taste for mayhem and hedonism. The older man goads and eggs on the teenager, then has to hang on as his protege outdoes him in the crazy category.   It's a weird weird flick, but the two have a great chemistry, being this insane odd couple. And the director has a vivid and comprehensive visual style and compositions - there's one extended scene in a hotel that made me think 'David Lynch on meth', and the final sequence, shot in Dunkirk, is stunning, all bleak and wild and desolation. The director prefaced the film at the outset as a "modern romantic comedy", and the Q&A revealed an acerbic and bone-dry sense of humor, which is evident in the film. My only complaint is that he does need to develop beyond the young male writer/director tendency to play with fire just because - his characters' interactions with women, and the homoerotic subtext, ultimately served little purpose other than to set up a cheap laugh or than to be lazy shorthand to create discomfort in the audience, a la 'this is screwed up and over the line, right? awesome!', that comes off more like 'look at me Ma, I'm a bad boy' showboating - and he doesn't need to resort to that, given his obvious talent.
 
ANOTHER YEAR UK 4 cats Oh Mike Leigh, every year you look more elven and adorable than the last.   Or maybe I should go with dwarf, because he was snarky - he used his intro mostly to chastise Piers Handling about giving a synopsis of the film prior to its screening! Although I did love that, it's a pet peeve - at a film festival, everyone in the audience who wanted to know something about the film already read the same blurb you're quoting from the book, and those who didn't want to know, just want you to shut up and not spoil the pure experience for them. Anyhoo... the film follows the goings-on among the friends and family of two longtime marrieds, season by season across one year. As expected, the casting was spot on and the acting marvelous. I was pleasantly surprised by one name in the credits, and she was stellar in an opening scene that pretty much set the pattern of interaction between Jerri (and Tom, the couple), and the world around them. Lesley Manville's Mary was the standout, deserving of all the buzz that's been written about her. My only quibble was, why did Jerri and Tom hang around such neurotic self-absorbed people? Also, what does Mike Leigh have against older single people? The sub-textual takeaway from this film is that, being married is the way to happiness. Feh on that, I say. Nevertheless, the strength of the acting meant that I noticed this only afterwards, while walking out of the Elgin (which is the Tweeter Center of theatres, by the way – the place takes forever to empty out, despite the multiple exits)
 
OLIVER SHERMAN Canada 3 cats A fellow soldier shows up one day at the door of a vet who has successfully started over since the war, with a young family, solid job and good neighbors. The visitor had been shot in the head and left behind by the platoon, but the host vet had gone back for him, saving him from certain death (but not from permanent damage from his injuries). It's 7 years later, and no one knows why Sherman Oliver arrived, not even Sherman. Unfinished business? A desire to emulate his savior, and start over anew? Garrett Dillahunt as Sherman does a good job avoiding the Forrest Gump/Slingblade trap, and Molly Parker kills in a scene in the kitchen which was no doubt the catnip that got her to say yes to what is otherwise the usual wife role - but the surprise is Donal Logue as the standup guy who is just trying to do best by everybody and get along, but manages to do so without coming off like a too perfect boy scout. Overall, the buildup of dread and suspense is good, perhaps too good - when the climax and end come, they both seem too passive, almost incidental.   And while I appreciated that almost all of the violence was offscreen, I wonder if that may have added to the sense of 'oh, is that it' afterwards. Perhaps, also, if the film showed a bit more the effect of Sherman's visit upon the vet and his family, that might have also corrected the sense of imbalance.

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