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« TIFF: "Gravity" & "Eleanor Rigby: Him / Her" | Main | Robert Redford is "The Candidate" »
Friday
Sep132013

TIFF Quickies: Young & Beautiful, Honeymoon, and Belle

Brief notes on three more TIFF pictures

HONEYMOON
Maybe I would be a fan of Jan Hrebejk if I saw more of his pictures? He's been submitted three times for Oscar consideration in Best Foreign Film but of the three I've only seen his most recent Kawasaki Rose which I liked quite a lot. We don't yet know if the Czech Republic will submit his latest, Honeymoon, but it's an involving drama about our past selves and how well we know the ones we love. I really liked the gradual unfolding of its story-puzzle which takes place during a wedding weekend in which an uninvited gayish stranger spoils the proceedings for the bride and groom though they don't quite know why. Or maybe someone does but they're not saying. The relationships were intriguing and the groom is the sexiest ginger bearded actor this side of Fassbender. Though it maybe pushes too hard aesthetically in its climax, the final shots really moved me. 

Of note
: Fans of Nastassia Kinski will be delighted at the marquee treatment she receives here. She's not in the film but her late 70s early 80s stardom is a key plot point. B/B+

François Ozon and a British Costume Drama after the jump

François Ozon and his lead actress at Cannes earlier this year

YOUNG & BEAUTIFUL
The latest picture from one of the world's sexiest directors (François Ozon) charts the erotic awakening of a beautiful 17 year old over the course of one year. The movie is divided up into seasons starting with her 17 year old birthday summer. If you can get past her skeletal body in certain angles of certain shots, lead actress Marine Vacth is more than an apt visual description of the movie's title. At first Young & Beautiful feels like a generic French coming of age tale, a Pauline at the Beach with much less character but as the girl grows more confident in her sexuality, the film becomes darker, more involving and weirder though still and always very French. Ozon is smart enough to broaden the scope so we're not just getting sexual promiscuity but a family portrait, too. I loved the final spring chapter, the will she or wont she ambiguities, and the "liberal but not that liberal!" backfire frankness of her family. But something was missing for me. When it was over I tweeted this.

 

 

The tweet started a healthy conversation but afterwards I wondered if I was too harsh. Ozon has done great or at least near-great work multiple times, his peak being that one-two-three punch of Water Drops on Burning Rocks, Under the Sand and 8 Women (2000-2002) If you've never seen those pictures you're in for a treat. This one is worth a tumble, too, if you're in a French awakening mood.

Of note: Frequent Ozon muse Charlotte Rampling (Under the Sand, Swimming Pool) appears late in the film, and is as marvelous as ever. B

BELLE
I started writing a huge-ass piece on this one, a British period drama, but it kinda got away from me morphing into three different reviews each of them wanting to be longer still. Then I discovered that the movie isn't due until May of next year so abort...abort. I hope they take this time to do some fine tuning. Or even reshoots! It's a true story about a young biracial girl raised as a sort of half member of a wealthy powerful white family in England when slavery was legal and the part she played in a history-shaking decision involving the highest court in the land. This historical anecdote is great fascinating drama but the execution is all over the freaking place. In a year filled with a rare generous helping of films about racial identity and cruel systemic political inequality it doesn't have the weird pizazz of Lee Daniels' The Butler, the brute force of 12 Years or the clear immediacy of Fruitvale Station so holding it until 2014 is the right idea. No Grade

Podcast a group discussion of TIFF 13: Oscar buzz, our favorite films, and more
Ambition & Self Sabotage on Gravity and Eleanor Rigby: Him & Her
Mano-a-Mano Hallucinations Norway's Pioneer & Jake Gyllenhaal² in Enemy
Quickies Honeymoon, Young & Beautiful, Belle
Labor Day in a freeze-frame nutshell
Jessica Chastain at the Eleanor Rigby Premiere
August Osage County reactions Plus Best Picture Nonsense
Rush Ron Howard's crowd pleaser
The Past from Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi & Cannes Best Actress Berenice Bejo
Queer Double FeatureTom at the Farm and Stranger by the Lake
Boogie Nights Live Read with Jason Reitman and Friends
First 3 Screenings: Child's Pose, Unbeatable and Isabelle Huppert in Abuse of Weakness 
TIFF Arrival: Touchdown in Toronto. Two unsightly Oscars

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Reader Comments (14)

Nat, did you see Ozon's "In the House" earlier this year? It's on my shortlist of best films of 2013. I'd hope that France would choose it for their Oscar candidate.

September 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBill_the_Bear

The Ass-bender doppelganger is Stanislav Majer.

September 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

I was about to say, did Fassy make a movie without my knowledge?

September 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

Nathaniel: I agree with you about Ozon. I like his work a lot, but so often I feel it's not quite good enough. Water Drops on Burning Rocks and Under the Sand are his best (I thought 8 Women was so-so) - and I really liked Angel too (and Criminal Lovers). But so many of his films are a great idea that then develops into a not-quite-interesting-enough story. It's as if he makes filmmaking look so easy, there's not enough feeling in it. That said, I'm a fan for life - I'll always see his latest film.

September 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

Nathaniel, I heard a rumour Belle could be brought forward as part of a Fox sneak attack. Do you think this is likely? Also, how were Miranda Richardson and Emily Watson?

September 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDan

Dan - not sure how likely it is but I don't think it would work. Richardson is spicy fun as usual (and used sparingly). Watson is Watsonian. ;)

Bill & Edward - i missed In the House. should correct. because even when I dont love Ozon movies i'm always glad i saw them. so i'm like edward there. I have some issues but i always want to see them.

September 13, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

RE: Stanislav Majer

I believe this gets filed under NSFW.

September 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Paul --- !!!! wtf. where is that from?

September 13, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

That is from a play he was in back in 2010 in the Czech Repbulic.

September 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

I loved In The House, but Ozon's best movie is 5x2. Valeria Bruni Tedeschi is terrific in it.

September 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

cal -- i wouldn't call it his best but I also think highly of that one. And I do remember Tedeschi being strong in it.

September 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

Ozon is sort of like a gay French Woody Allen - in his prolfic output, and recurring set of concerns. Even when his movies are more like trifles, I always find them watchable.

Has anyone seen 'Le Temps Qui Reste' ("Time to Leave')? I thought that was a really underappreciated Ozon, surprisingly moving, amd made great use of Melvil Poupaud.

September 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

Brian: Yes, I've seen Le temps qui reste. I'm afraid it was one of the ones that I was underwhelmed by. I felt it was too content to remain on the surface of the story - there was too little exploration of what was going on. For example, that ending on the beach - I found it moving 'in theory' but not in practice! I guess that means the film hadn't properly earned it. That said, I agree that Poupaud was very good.

September 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

Poupaud is so under-famous.

September 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

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