- Home (Ursula Meier, Switzerland/France/Belgium, 2008)
- Red Riding: 1974 (Julian Jarrold, UK, 2009)
- Katalin Varga (Peter Strickland, Romania/UK/Hungary, 2009)
I wanted to see this film on the strength of my fascination with Isabelle Huppert, who is perhaps my favourite actress. Huppert is obviously sought for her unusual talents: her ability to display both strength and fragility - often concurrently - and her ability to take on very demanding roles. She seems to be drawn to the types of roles and films that also draw me. They're often in small films, like Home, a film I'd describe as not one of Huppert's finest choices.
A family is living within spitting distance of a disused highway, which is effectively their front yard. Life is about to change drastically when, with little warning, it is resurfaced and consequently re-opened to traffic. Privacy is lost, noise and fumes intrude and the family's routine is completely transformed, upsetting the domestic balance.
The scenario is quite inventive and executed effectively, at least visually. I was wondering throughout the film how they were able to realistically create the whole set-up, especially the transformation of an old highway to a new one. The family dynamics are mostly well-developed and the film sucks us into its world... to a point. Unfortunately, the various elements of the film's narrative don't stick and plausibility becomes an issue. As the film progresses, it becomes less and less believable.
Wouldn't the respective statutory authorities give more warning? Wouldn't they provide more amenity, like access to the property? Would the family really imprison themselves? The MIFF synopsis describes the film as a "social farce" that "teeters on the verge of comedy", but that wasn't my perception at all. It seemed very much a social drama/family drama. The film looks nice, but the story is inconsistent and Meier doesn't seem to make the most of her good ideas.
Red Riding: 1974
Julian Jarrold isn't exactly what I'd call an exciting director, but was prepared to give this British crime thriller a go based on good word-of-mouth. It immediately reminds me of the French Public Enemy no.1/Mesrine starring Vincent Cassell, but is not quite as strong. It is very entertaining as a mainstream genre film and feels like a tele-movie.
The film's set-up is not too bad, though some devices seemed a bit too Underbelly-populist, like the sex and nudity. The film is based on a novel, and frames a fiction around real-crime events, namely the Yorkshire Ripper. The film does get a bit silly as it progresses, but it still had my heart palpitating and palms sweating, so it does work on its intended level. The verdict: fun, lots of energy and exciting, but not must-see material. Wait for DVD or TV; who knows, it might get a theatrical release. I'm still planning to see the next instalment, Red Riding: 1980, and I have higher hopes for this as it's directed by James Marsh whose previous films include Man on Wire and The King, my no.2 favourite film of 2006.
I don't have much to say about this film; basically I found it pretty ordinary. A woman is ostracised from her village after an affair and consequently exacts revenge on men who wronged her many years earlier. My biggest problem with the film concerns how she catches up with these guys and the impossible coincidences involved. There are other technical problems, like the use of sound and sometimes sub-standard visuals, but I could overlook those. I gave myself a lower threshold for walking out, and could have walked out on this at any point, but it was enjoyable enough to go along with the ride and stay. It's only 84 minutes long, so that was a plus (not very flattering, though, eh?).