Friday, 21 October 2011

LFF Day 10: The charmer

One of the best surprises of the London Film Festival has been Michel Hazanavicius' almost ludicrously charming black and white silent movie The Artist, which has been gathering buzz since its premiere at Cannes last May. Now the film and its leading man Jean Dujardin are being talked about as possible Oscar contenders (of course, it helps that Weinstein is distributing the film). Apparently Dujardin has been here in London for the festival, but I haven't tracked him down yet. Here are some comments on the film, and some other festival highlights...

The Artist
dir Michel Hazanavicius; with Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo 11/Fr *****
Made as a 1920s-style silent movie, this feels like an instant classic  It's packed with more wit, passion and invention than all of the films in any given multiplex combined. The story centres on a silent movie star (Dujardin) who discovers a young ingenue (Bejo) and then watches as their careers take extremely different trajectories - mainly because she embraces talkies while he prefers to keep making silent movies. The strong supporting cast includes John Goodman, Penelope Ann Miller and James Cromwell, and the film is so sharply well written and directed that every moment is packed with humour, emotion and witty nods to film history. It's also one of those movies that makes you laugh and cry without seeming to try at all. In a word: sublime.

The Kid With a Bike 
dir Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne; with Thomas Doret, Cecile De France 11/Bel ****
The Dardennes once again achieve a remarkable sense of reality with this understated drama about an angry tornado of a boy (the remarkable Doret) whose troubled, sad life seems heading for a nasty end when he's adopted by a caring stranger (De France). But nothing is easy, and the film heads into some very dark places that continually catch us off guard. It's such an intimate film that it's sometimes difficult to watch, but we continue to root for this kid. Everything feels so natural on screen that it's almost shocking when we start to feel the grinding gears of a plot. And while this feels a bit pushy, it still keeps us involved, and even provides a moment of gasp-inducing drama.

dir Tinge Krishnan; with Eddie Marsan, Candese Reid 11/UK ***
Riveting performances hold our attention even when this dark drama starts wallowing in the messy lives of its central characters. But there are glimmers of hope along the way, and a terrifyingly realistic depiction of addiction... FULL REVIEW >

No comments: