Sundance Film Festival – Day 6

As Sundance slowly but steadily begins to come to its wintry close, one tends to try and slow down and today was slow but steady. It began with a chat with wonderful Irish director Jim Sheridan. A gentleman, a nice guy and a major talent. We talked about the personal connection he had with the glorious In America, his relationship with Daniel Day Lewis and he confirmed his next project would either be a new film of I, Claudius or a fresh take on the gangster genre possibly with Day-Lewis. Sheridan, who hadn’t made a film since The Boxer, said he was itching to return to work on one of the two this year.

Few journalists turned up to cover the Tatum O’Neal film The Technical Writer, so the publicist, in her infinite wisdom, decided to pair her up with the writer and director. Suffice it to say, this journalist was none too happy so declined to stay, knowing what a dead interview we would have under those circumstances. More interesting was catching up with Buffalo Soldiers director Gregor Jordan who talked about the film’s delayed release and Ned Kelly, which won’t open here in rhe States till September, but Australia will get to see it in March.

A bit of a break until it was time to check out a film that was apparently generating buzz, the odd and rather woeful Girls will be Girls. The film tells of three actresses at various places on the Hollywood food chain who navigate the minefield of love, aging, and ambition. Not too mention the fact that they’re all played by men. Incomprehensible, overtly garish and utterly pretentious, Girls will be Girls succeeds in being an embarrassment of mediocrity and is unlikely to find a broad audience outside of gay film festivals. Even its core audience may discover that they’ve seen it all before.

The final film of the evening was a major surprise and easily one of the best films at Sundance thus far: A Foreign Affair. This wonderful charmer casts David Arquette and Tim Blake-Nelson as two brothers who need household help on their farm after their mother passes away. They decide to join a romance tour to Russia to find and bring home a traditionally minded wife. One wife for both, that is. Partly comic in an absurdist way and partly very human, A Foreign Affair is a wry comment on the whole notion of romance tours. Yet at the same writer Geert Heetebrij and director Helmut AUISchleppi have also crafted a succinct film about brotherly love, dependence, patriarchy and marriage, in a briskly directed romantic comedy/drama that takes audiences by surprise. Beautifully shot on location in St Petersburg, the film boasts memorable work by Blake-Nelson and Arquette who have never been better as they are here. Exemplified by a soft musical score, A Foreign Affair is one of the sleeper hits at Sundance. It is surprises such as this that makes Sundance such a pleasurable experience.

PAUL FISCHER