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On this page: BOYS [JONAS]
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last update 13.Nov.18
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
3.5/5   Jonas
dir-scr Christophe Charrier
prd Sandrine Brauer, Marie Masmonteil
with Felix Maritaud, Nicolas Bauwens, Tommy-Lee Baik, Aure Atika, Marie Denarnaud, Ilian Bergala, Pierre Cartonnet, Marcel Bauzige, Nicolas Sartous, David Baiot, Ingrid Graziani, Edith Saulnier
maritaud and baiot release US/UK 12.Nov.18,
Fr 23.Nov.18
18/France 1h22
boys Sharp and observant, this French drama explores a young man at two key points in his life nearly 20 years apart. Filmmaker Christophe Charrier cleverly weaves these two timelines together, dominated by what will clearly emerge as a major event that links it all together. It's a finely crafted film that generates a big emotional kick, even if it feels rushed.

Handsome and arrogant in his early 30s, Jonas (Maritaud) finds his mind drawn back to 1997, when he was a shy teenager (Bauwens) hiding his sexuality from his parents (Cartonnet and Denarnaud). This is the year he meets Nathan (Baik), a charismatic kid who encourages him to break out of the expected mould. In the present day, Jonas is dumped by his boyfriend Samuel (Baiot), who is fed up with his irresponsible extra-curricular sex. This sparks an odyssey in which young hotel receptionist Leo (Bergala) raises further links to his past.

Charrier shifts smoothly between the two periods, echoing Jonas' physicality in the actors' playing him at both ages. In 1997, he's just realising who he is and who he might become. In 2015, Jonas is rootless and lost underneath his tough-guy facade, unable to break an empty cycle of anonymous hook-ups. His interaction with everyone is eerily empty, as if he has been consumed with fear and guilt for all of these years. So perhaps going back to confront the truth will give him peace. But it's clear that something terrible has happened to him.

Performances are earthy and natural, as each actor plays scenes beneath the surface. Maritaud is excellent at expressing himself with his entire body, giving Jonas a loose physicality and offhanded attitude while quietly revealing his tumultuous mental state. He's charismatic and likeable, and darkly introspective. In the flashbacks, Bauwens and Baik have a superb chemistry as follower and leader, respectively. This nicely complicates their interaction, which is perhaps a bit too carefully underplayed. As their mothers, Denarnaud and Atike each have strong moments of their own.

A running gag involving a vintage GameBoy offers a tactile connection between the two periods. But there is a deeper current of thematic links, including Nathan's stories of childhood abuse and the dawning understanding of more direct connections between past and present characters. As the script closes in on a moment of dark tragedy, the film's brisk running time kind of skips over the deeper implications that might have made the emotions even more intensely resonant.

15 themes, language, violence
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
The Guilty
4/5   Den Skyldige
dir Gustav Moller
prd Lina Flint
scr Gustav Moller, Emil Nygaard Albertsen
with Jakob Cedergren, Jessica Dinnage, Omar Shargawi, Johan Olsen, Jacob Hauberg Lohmann, Katinka Evers-Jahnsen, Jeanette Lindbaek, Simon Bennebjerg, Laura Bro, Morten Thunbo, Maria Gersby Cisse, Anders Brink Madsen
release Den 14.Jun.18,
US 19.Oct.18, UK 26.Oct.18
18/Denmark 1h25

london film fest
The Guilty Unfolding in real time, this taut Danish thriller is tightly contained on a telephone operator's face. The story plays out on multiple layers, with both a developing emergency and hints about something else that's going on in this man's life. This packs the film with issues from family tragedies and the nature of truth to a larger look at how difficult it is to find justice.

Emergency operator Asger (Cedergren) gets a bit too involved with the callers, passing judgement on their actions before transferring them on to the police or ambulance. Then a woman (Dinnage) calls who has been abducted, and he crosses a line in his attempts to rescue her and make sure her children are safe. But Asger is also facing a court case tomorrow that will allow him to return to being a police officer. Preparing for this isn't going as he hoped it would, and now he's completely preoccupied by this pressing situation on the line.

Reminiscent of Tom Hardy's Locke, the film surrounds Cedergren with voices on both the emergency number and his personal phone. Moller directs the film sharply, capturing every flicker of thought or emotion as this man tries to stay on top of what is clearly a perilous predicament. And his own situation develops in parallel as he speaks to an unsteady colleague (Shargawi) who is tormented about his case. Both plot threads reveal their secrets slowly, gnawing at the viewer in a relentless way that's darkly powerful.

Cedergren carries this film in his expressions, revealing his mind turning as he does his job and also deeper haunting feelings about his personal issues. Even as the audience waits for more details, events play across his face that indicate his intelligence and emotional acuity. He may be preoccupied with his own situation, but it's powerfully involving to see him become so deeply connected to this horrific situation.

This is a clever thriller that grips the audience tightly over its brisk running time. Issues churn throughout various phone calls with a sense of desperation underlying events that begin to converge in unexpected ways in Asger's mind. The narrative is full of emotional landmines that catch us off guard, sensitively exploring the characters and their internal lives. As the plot's secrets are revealed, the story can't help but work its way under the skin, leaving us, like Asger, shaken and haunted by what we've witnessed.

15 themes, language

R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
4/5     MUST must see SEE
dir-scr Alfonso Cuaron
prd Alfonso Cuaron, Nicolas Celis, Gabriela Rodriguez
with Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Diego Cortina Autrey, Carlos Peralta, Daniela Demesa, Marco Graf, Nancy Garcia, Jorge Antonio Guerrero, Veronica Garcia, Fernando Grediaga, Andy Cortes, Jose Manuel Guerrero Mendoza
Aparicio release US/UK 29.Nov.18,
Mex 14.Dec.18
18/Mexico Netflix 2h25

thessaloniki film fest
Roma An almost overwhelmingly personal drama, this film was drawn from the memories of filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron as an ode to the family servant who helped raise him. Shot in silvery black and white with an engulfing sense of the period, it's the kind of film that lures us in with tiny details then stuns us with either a major event or emotional kick. Everything about the film is organic, with likeable characters who feel like people we have known all our lives.

In 1970 Mexico City, Cleo (Aparicio) works with Adela (Nancy Garcia) as maids for Sofia and Antonio (Tavira and Grediaga) and their four rambunctious children (Autrey, Peralta, Demesa and Graf). Then Antonio moves out, telling the kids he's going on a business trip. So Sofia is relying on Cleo and Adela more than ever, as well as her mother Teresa (Veronica Garcia). Meanwhile, Cleo finds herself pregnant and abandoned by her ninja-training boyfriend Fermin (Guerrero). And Sofia vows to stand by her, because women are always left to do it on their own.

The story covers a year anecdotally, moving through situations that are both routine and momentous. There's a flurry of humour running through the film, often centred on the family's Ford Galaxy, which barely fits in the garage. And there's also a current of emotion that swells up occasionally in scenes that leave the viewer shaken and moved. Cuaron stages each sequence expertly, often in a single master take that adds a terrific sense of scale and perspective.

Aparicio is charming, deploying a cheeky sense of humour that's lost on the family. This helps Cleo and Adela cope with their second-class status, including hushed overheard conversations about them. Aparicio shows Cleo carefully observing her surroundings, rising to unexpected challenges when needed, even if no one will notice. Circling around her, Tavira and the kids are so natural that they barely seem to be acting at all. And Guerrero gets the film's most hilarious scene, as well as the harshest.

Every moment, every character is impeccably realised on-screen using skilful cinematography (by Cuaron himself), delightful production design and clever effects that recreate the period. It's a beautiful portrait of life in Mexico City. But above all, this is Cuaron's love letter to a little-appreciated corner of Latin society, the servants society barely realises it can't do without. Well it's right there in the title, which is the Spanish word for love, spelled backwards.

15 themes, language, violence, nudity
3.Nov.18 tiff
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
4/5   Napszállta
dir-scr Laszlo Nemes
prd Gabor Rajna, Gabor Sipos
with Juli Jakab, Vlad Ivanov, Evelin Dobos, Julia Jakubowska, Marcin Czarnik, Judit Bardos, Benjamin Dino, Christian Harting, Levente Molnar, Dorottya Moldovan, Peter Fancsikai, Bjorn Freiberg
release Hun 27.Sep.18,
UK Oct.18 lff
18/Hungary 2h22

thessaloniki film fest
sunset With this pre-war drama, Hungarian filmmaker Laszlo Nemes expands on his singular filmmaking style, tightly following a hapless character through momentous events. It may be set as Europe is about to embark on a half-century long cataclysm, but events are seen through the eyes of a strong young women who doesn't quite grasp what she's watching. It's a mesmerising, achingly well-made film that pulses with desperation. And it's hauntingly timely.

Returning to Budapest decades after after being orphaned, Irisz Leiter (Jakab) wants a job as a milliner in the shop her parents once owned. New owner Brill (Ivanov) and head hatmaker Zelma (Dobos) tell her to leave, but she sticks around. And her determination grows when she discovers she has a brother who murdered the husband of a countess (Jakubowska). As Irisz investigates, she becomes enmeshed in the conflict between anarchists and aristocrats, powerful men and scarred women. This comes to a head when the royal family arrives to celebrate the shop's anniversary.

Nemes never violates Irisz's point of view, so the true nature of what's happening feels elusive, even as she begins to understand this foundation-shaking conflict between the privileged class and the crushed public. The production design is strikingly detailed, expansive and engulfing, even if much of the wider picture remains literally out of focus. This provides a sense of urgency and emotion, especially as Irisz tenaciously ignores attempts to control her, ultimately finding herself in the middle of a struggle that will ultimately engulf the world.

Centred in almost every frame, Jakab offers a beautifully understated performance. With wide eyes that are naive but alert, she remains both intriguing and aloof, holding our interest if not our sympathies. Like her, we want to break through this blockade to find the truth. Characters around her are of course enigmatic, but Czarnik is magnetic as the anarchist leader who may be Irisz's long-lost brother. And like Jakub, both Dobos and Jakubowska combine strong women with remarkable vulnerability.

Even with its deliberate understatement, the film's themes are clear, especially with a brief epilog that vividly reminds us what happened next. But its the underlying truths that really grab hold, mainly the way women are treated as property, pushed around, used, abused and discarded. And the women let it happen, wilfully ignoring the facts. As Irisz finds herself at the epicentre of this conflict, she realises that she has to take action, whether or not she has hope of changing anything.

15 themes, language, violence
2.Nov.18 tiff

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