Shadows Film FestShadows off the beaten path
Indies, foreign, docs and shorts...


< <
F O R E I G N > >

See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL | Last update 5.May.24

The Beast   La Bête
Review by Rich Cline | 4/5     MUST must see SEE
The Beast
dir-scr Bertrand Bonello
prd Justin Taurand, Bertrand Bonello
with Lea Seydoux, George MacKay, Guslagie Malanda, Dasha Nekrasova, Martin Scali, Elina Lowensohn, Marta Hoskins, Julia Faure, Kester Lovelace, Felicien Pinot, Laurent Lacotte, Pierre-Francois Garel
release Fr 7.Feb.24,
US 5.Apr.24, UK 31.May.24
23/France 2h26

london film fest

Is it streaming?

seydoux and mackay
Bold and bracingly provocative, this French romantic thriller layers Lynchian disorientation with some mind-bendingly complex sci-fi ideas while maintaining an unusually strong interior life. At its core, the story is intensely personal, and it plays out in scenes that can sometimes feel random, meandering or jarringly fragmented. But there is a method to filmmaker Bertrand Bonello's madness, and the razor-sharp through-line carries a kick that's both visceral and emotional.
In the distant future, artificial intelligence is eliminating human emotions by channelling them into dreamy virtual fantasies rather than politics and war. So Gabrielle (Seydoux) is living as a brilliant pianist in 1910 Paris, where she runs into Louis (MacKay) at a society party. They've met years before, and Gabrielle shared her deep feeling that some shadowy beast was trying to obliterate her life. As they speak about this, they have reason to suspect something is up. Then in 2014 Los Angeles, Gabrielle is an aspiring actress targeted by Louis, who is a frustrated incel.
Both of these realities are intensely detailed, connected by scenes set in the film's present, as Gabrielle faces a "purification" procedure to cleanse her DNA from the inside out, guided by the robot Kelly (Malanda), whom Gabrielle likens to the dolls she manufactures in 1910 with her husband (Scali). Gabrielle is also introduced by fellow actress Dakota (Nekrasova) to a Los Angeles nightclub that operates in elaborate period theme nights, and she manages to meet Louis there as well. They are different people in each incarnation, always drawn inexorably to each other.

In unusually textured performances, Seydoux and MacKay create astoundingly complex characters who transcend various scenarios, completely different people who have eerie commonalities in the emotions that run deep under the surface. Some of these roles are more heightened than others, but there are naturalistic touches that continually circle back to the overall storyline. So the chemistry between Seydoux and MacKay is remarkable, often skilfully understated but always driving the underlying narrative.

Cleverly evoking the idea of past lives as well as the way people try to reinvent themselves, this film keeps our brain spinning. It will be frustrating to viewers who like to have everything presented to them obviously, although sticking with it brings rewards in the strikingly well-played variety of scenes, from comical moments to a climactic nail-biting thriller set-up. And through it all, there's the thread of an epic romance and two people who are fighting to keep their love alive against unimaginable opposition.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 1.May.24

La Chimera  
Review by Rich Cline | 4.5/5     MUST must see SEE
La Chimera
dir-scr Alice Rohrwacher
prd Carlo Cresto-Dina, Paolo Del Brocco, Alexandra Henochsberg, Manuela Melissano
with Josh O'Connor, Carol Duarte, Isabella Rossellini, Vincenzo Nemolato, Alba Rohrwacher, Lou Roy-Lecollinet, Ramona Fiorini, Yile Yara Vianello, Giuliano Mantovani, Gian Piero Capretto, Melchiorre Pala, Julia Vella
release It 23.Nov.23,
US 29.Mar.24, UK 10.May.24
23/Italy Rai 2h10

afi fest

Now streaming...

the tombaroli
A magical fable that plays adeptly with the living and the dead, this Italian comedy-drama overflows with quirky authenticity. Set in the early 1980s, it feels timeless, as writer-director Alice Rohrwacher harks back to Fellini's lively realism (see La Strada) with characters who burst with personality and attitude. And the meandering but engaging narrative follows a lonely young man on an odyssey to discover what's truly important to him.
After a stint in prison, Arthur (O'Connor) heads to his shack on the outside of an Italian village's walls. But his former grave-robbing cohorts, the tombaroli, want his dowsing skills to help unearth more ancient objects. Meanwhile, he checks in with opera teacher Flora (Rossellini), mother of his lost love Beniamina (Vianello). Her current student Italia (Duarte) is working as the maid in Flora's decrepit manor house and is secretly hiding her two children there. As a spark develops between Arthur and Italia, they realise they have clashing feelings about graves and antiquities.
Shot skilfully by Helene Louvart, the film is so gorgeously sun-drenched that everything looks a bit faded. And on closer inspection, especially Arthur is rather grubby from clambering around in underground tombs. His swirling dreams about Beniamina have a visceral energy, linked by a red strand of yarn to the way he senses the presence of priceless artefacts under the ground beneath his feet. The film continually juxtaposes the present day with crumbling old buildings and long-lost treasures, viewed through Arthur's eyes as much more than the money-makers the tombaroli see.

With his lanky physicality and linen suits, O'Connor has an otherworldly presence, the notorious lone Englishman who holds everything inside. No wonder everyone sees him as a chimera. He's searching for a reason to go on after losing Beniamina. Perhaps he can find this in Italia, whom Duarte plays with astonishing textures as someone wary, trusting, life-loving and death-fearing. It's a fantastic performance that sparks terrific chemistry with Arthur, but she's much more than a romantic foil. And of course Rossellini is simply wonderful.

Entrancing and deeply enjoyable, the film pays tribute to Italian neorealist cinema with a warm sense of humour. Rohrwacher allows the audience to lose themselves in a fully immersive tale, feeling each wistful yearning, mischievous adventure and magical flourish. And because the themes are etched into the framework of each scene, it's impossible to watch this tale without considering our relationship with history, both in our own life and in signs that litter the world around us.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 30.Apr.24

Review by Rich Cline | 3/5
dir Jonas Govaerts
scr Trent Haaga
prd Peter De Maegd, Dimitri 'Vegas' Thivaios, Lize Lefaible, Tom Hameeuw
with Dimitri 'Vegas' Thivaios, Jeroen Perceval, Jennifer Heylen, Mila Rooms, Frank Lammers, Monic Hendrickx, Gene Bervoets, Tom Vermeir, Emilie De Roo, Alice Toen, Els Olaerts, Sergej Lopouchanski
release Bel 20.Jul.22,
UK Aug.22 frf, US 10.May.24
22/Belgium 1h28

london film fest

Is it streaming?

perceval and thivaios
Tracing a single momentous day, this energetic Belgian action comedy has an enjoyably unravelling plot. As things spiral out of control, the movie holds the interest with colourful visuals and a strong central character played by Dimitri 'Vegas' Thivaios, better known as a top DJ. So while there isn't much to it beyond absurd, blackly funny antics, the film is an entertaining odyssey that keeps our pulses raised.

Hugely proud of his souped-up Lexus, Noah (Thivaios) cruises through the streets like a hotshot, picking up his girlfriend Lea (Heylen) and their daughter Zita (Rooms) for the school run. Then he gets a message from his cousin Carlos (Perceval), who is out of prison and has lined up a job for them. But first, they collect Carlos' loose-cannon prison friend Kludde (Lammers). Unsurprisingly things quickly go wrong, leading to a close encounter with an amorous security guard (Vermeir). And a ruthless mystery woman (Hendrickx) is determined to recover the case Carlos stole from her.
When this woman grabs Zita, everything shifts up a gear. Noah is a nice guy with an annoying laddish streak who is clearly very impatient, organising his day down to the second with a series of small errands and scams. So this day feels very annoying, as Carlos' chaos sends Noah on a series of frantic detours that cause damage to his precious car. And this stolen case contains an experimental drug that gives Carlos wild animated hallucinations.

Thivaios manages to keep Noah likeable, even amid a series of seriously dodgy decisions. This is mainly because everyone he meets is even more disruptive and chaotic than he is, and he is emotionally connected to rescuing his daughter and trying to keep Lea from panicking. So it almost feels like he doesn't deserve this, and it helps that the cascading violence is comically extreme. By contrast, Perceval's appallingly disruptive Carlos causes nothing but trouble, but at least he finds ways to have fun along the way.

As the day passes, Noah just about maintains a level head, even when everything around him becomes increasingly harrowing. This helps us root for him as he desperately attempts to return this woman's case and rescue Zita, whatever it might cost. The filmmakers don't bother to insert a moral message here, but the suspense is heightened simply because the stakes feel so personal. So the film remains entertaining, even when the craziness begins to grate.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 9.May.24

Send Shadows your reviews!

< < F O R E I G N > >

© 2024 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall