Sunday, 15 February 2009

BFF10: Silver and gold

I actually got to walk the red carpet tonight - ooh! It was closing night at the Berlinale and the awards ceremony was done on a massive scale in the Berlinale Palast, handing out the Berlinale bears to: The Milk of Sorrow (Golden Bear), Everyone Else (Silver Bear and actress), Gigante (Silver Bear and innovation), About Elly (director), London River (actor), The Messenger (screenplay), Sweet Rush (innovation), Katalin Varga (artistic contribution). Most of the winners were on hand to accept the prizes from the international jury, which was led by Tilda Swinton. And then the closing film was shown, even though there's another day to go. I saw that movie and one other on Saturday...

Eden Is West
dir Costa-Gavras 09/Fr ****
Almost criminally charming, this immigration fairy tale follows the young, handsome Elias (Riccardo Scamarcio) as he escapes an overloaded boatlift and ends up at a posh beach resort, where he's quickly mistaken as a staff member. After fixing a very nasty toilet and getting entangled with a couple of guests and staff, he goes ont he run, meeting every imaginable ethnicity as he crosses Europe en route to Paris. Scamarcio is so likeable in the role that we have no trouble understanding why every woman, man, child and dog he meets falls madly in love with him. And the constant present of police in pursuit adds a terrific dark edge to the whole film as it bounces from anecdote to anecdote. It's also remarkably light-handed, never trying to give Elias a noble "quest" or a heart-rending romance. An intriguingly crowd-pleasing movie about a very big issue.

All Around Us
Ryosuke Hashiguchi 08/Jpn ****
Although it runs nearly 2 and a half hours, this marital drama accomplishes something we rarely see on film: it starts with a very young couple and shows us the stresses and strains in their relationship, and then as it progresses through the years, it explores the unusual ways they deal with these issues in order to reach some stability in their life. And these are not minor issues by any means - they are some of the most wrenching things anyone has to go through in either work or family situations. And the film's raw, natural approach works perfectly - no one seems to be acting at all, and the span of time (through the 1990s) catches a strong sense of history as well. A remarkable film that's well worth seeking out.

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