Moviehole at the TIFF – Part 4


The trouble with Dwek Martini’s ‘’Lymelife” is its lack of focus and originality, as once again we are in dysfunctional family territory.

Set in the late 70s, the film tells of two families that fall apart when precarious relationships, real estate problems and Lyme disease converge in suburban Long Island. All of this is seen through the innocent eyes of 15-year old Scott [Rory Culkin] who is in love with the neighbouring Adrianna [Emma Roberts] whose father is suffering from Lime Disease, while her mother [Cynthia Nixon] is having an affair with Scott’s real-estate agent father [Alec Baldwin]. Rory is also connecting with older brother Jimmy [Kieran Culkin] who has returned home on leave from the army. One of the major positive facets of Lymestone is the acting. Without a fault, the performances are all exemplary. Rory Culkin delivers a finely textured and beautifully realised performance as the introspective younger brother, balanced superbly by real-life brother Kieran’s more volatile copunterpart. Emma Roberts looks beautiful and is hauntingly alluring as Adrianna. The adults are superb, from the always remarkable Baldwin to a beautiful performance by Jill Hennessy. The acting is top-notch, but the film as a whole is somewhat meandering, not really able to make up its mind the direction it wants to take. The script by Derick and Steven Martini seems to be almost incomplete, lacking in character development and a sense of narrative cohesion. One also has the feeling that we’ve seen these characters before.

Australian director Stephan Elliott returns with a vengeance with his world premiere of is ‘’Easy Virtue”, based on the Noel Coward play. In the movie, a young Englishman [Ben Barnes] gets married to an American divorcee [Jessica Bei] on the spur of the moment in the South of France and then must return home to face his family, headed by the icy cool matriarch [Kristen Scott Thomas]. Elliott and co-screenwriter Sheridan Jobbins, have crafted a wonderfully cinematic adaptation of the Coward play, filmed for the first time Alfred Hitchcock’s 1928 version. A film that beautifully examines British class, wealth and snobbery in the late 1920s, Easy Virtue simply oozes with wit and irresistible characters, played to sublime perfection by a wonderful cast. Scott Thomas is beautifully controlled as the tough, no-nonsense matriarch, while Colin Firth is splendid as her suffering husband who shut himself away from his wife’s world, seeking refuge in a basement with his beloved motorbike. Jessica Biel stands her own ground as the brash, platinum blonde wife who tries to unstuffy some British stuffiness with little success. Backed by a terrific score by Marius De Vries, as well as a handful of expertly positioned period songs, the film is a visual feast, thanks to gorgeous lensing by veteran cinematographer Martin Kenzie, and the stylish production design of John Beard. Elliott’s best film since his landmark Priscilla, Easy Virtue is dazzling to the eye and a total joy to watch and listen to, an old fashioned classic English comedy with more than just a twinkle in its cinematic eye, thanks to the audacity of a master filmmaker.

They say war is hell as is the case of Kathryn Bigelow’s ‘’The Hurt Locker”, an intense portrayal of elite soldiers who have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world: disarming bombs in the heat of combat. When a new sergeant, William James [Jeremy Renner], takes over a highly trained bomb disposal team amidst violent conflict, he surprises his two subordinates, Sanborn [Anthony Mackie] and Eldridge [Brian Geraghty], by recklessly plunging them into a deadly game of urban combat. James behaves as if he’s indifferent to death. As the men struggle to control their wild new leader, the city explodes into chaos, and James’ true character reveals itself in a way that will change each man forever. Bigelow has always immersed herself into male-dominated genres, and here she seems in her element. While most Iraq-set war films have next to no characters of any substance, Mark Boal’s script is finely tuned as it explores the nature of war in this often gripping, quite mesmerizing piece. Shot on location in Jordan, Hurt Locker bristles with the realistic sounds of bullets, explosions and the urgency of war in a way we haven’t seen before. Partly an engrossing thriller, superbly edited by Chris Innis and Bob Murawski, and featuring stellar performances by its trio of protagonists, here at last is a film set during this politically unpalatable war that gives audiences a riveting glimpse into what these men do on a daily basis. It’s a fascinating and disturbing piece, superbly directed by a riosk-taking director.