"A film more about children than for them, perhaps"by Francine Stock / April 11, 2017 / Leave a comment
My Life as a Courgette
Released on 5th May
This animated film about a 10-year-old boy in care, nicknamed Courgette by his late mother, is stop-motion social realism. It was enthusiastically received at festivals from Cannes to Sundance. The script by Céline Sciamma (director of Girlhood) is touching but doesn’t sentimentalise, undercutting pathos with belly laughs. Swiss director Claude Barras plays on the physical reality of the foster home (standing full-square like a child’s drawing); a picturebook outing to the mountains reconciles the fantasies and fears of abused children. A film more about children than for them, perhaps. There’s a dubbed version but I’d recommend the gravelly and gravely comic young French voices on the original (with subtitles).
Released on 12th May
Time has done John Madden’s Washington political thriller few favours. In autumn previews, with a Hillary Clinton victory in prospect, it just about seemed feasible that gun control might get on the political agenda. Now this twisty tale of lobbyists and inside-the-Beltway shenanigans seems an anachronism, a wry wave at 1970s conspiracy films. Talky and cynical, it retains smart lines and a stiletto-sharp performance from Jessica Chastain—despite an ending as implausible as President Donald Trump.
The Other Side of Hope
Released on 26th May
People rarely smile in the films of Finnish writer/director Aki Kaurismäki. For 30 years, he’s specialised in lugubrious narratives that are nonetheless generous in spirit. In his new film, the protagonist is a Syrian refugee stowaway in a coal ship, who lands by mistake in Helsinki. As he tries to find a living in hellish panelled restaurants and underground carparks, he encounters glimmers of kindness that make this work —the second of Kaurismäki’s “dockyard trilogy” about displaced persons—an absurd joy.