In part ten of our TIFF 2011 preview, Andrew Parker takes a look at Shame, We Need to Talk About Kevin, and W.E. Check back over the next few days for more previews of films playing at TIFF 2011.
Director: Steve McQueen
Following the viscerally powerful Hunger, director Steve McQueen and actor Michael Fassbender re-team for Shame. This story of a New York sex addict (Fassbender) who has his world thrown out of alignment by the arrival of his estranged sister (Carey Mulligan) has some very interesting incestual and homoerotic overtones, but the final third of the film somehow manages to be depressing without holding a lot of dramatic weight. Shame is by no means meant to be a happy film, but the flogging McQueen administers to the audience barely registers because everything that precedes it is so much better. Then again, that cold distancing feel is probably the point in a film entirely about people who can’t control their desires and mood swings. Still, McQueen is one hell of a director and Fassbender and Mulligan are both excellent.
Rating: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
September 11 at 7 p.m. at the Princess Of Wales
September 13 at 3:15 p.m. at the Bell Lightbox
We Need to Talk About Kevin *Criticize This! TIFF Pick *
Director: Lynne Ramsay
In an effort to not mince words, We Need to Talk About Kevin is one of the best films of the year. Lynne Ramsay’s story of a woman (Tilda Swinton) dealing with the aftermath of a heinous crime committed by her inherently evil son packs more of an emotional wallop than any other film this year. This film grabs viewers by the throat and guts from the opening frames and refuses to let go or grant any sort of quarter. The more uncomfortable the film gets, the more it sucks the audience in. Swinton should simply be given the Oscar for best actress now, as her performance as both a young mother trying to make sense of her child and as a broken down shell of the person she once was is one of the best performances of pain and suffering ever committed to film. Also worth mentioning is Ramsay’s taut direction and John C. Reilly’s performance as Kevin’s hopelessly oblivious father.
Rating: ***** (out of 5 stars)
September 11 at 9:15 a.m. at the Bell Lightbox
The second feature film from Madonna looks and feels like the longest and most awesomely bad Chanel no. 5 commercial ever made, but despite its ineptitude it’s not entirely without merit. The trite story of an unhappy modern woman (Abbie Cornish) obsessed with the lives of the King Edward VIII (James D’arcy) and his true love (Andrea Riseborough) fails on every conceivable level from the script to the ludicrous camerawork. Laughable is a word that doesn’t even scratch the surface of this disaster, but I actually admire the film in a truly sick way. There might not be a more authoritative directorial vision this year than what Madonna does here. It feels as if no one during the production ever once told her that she couldn’t or shouldn’t do something regardless of how stupid it is. This is Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antionette times a thousand.
Rating: * on a purely critical level, **** on a potential camp classic level (out of 5 stars)
September 12 at 6:30 p.m. at Roy Thomson Hall
September 13 at 2:30 p.m. at the Visa Screening Room (Elgin)
TIFF 2011 runs from September 8 – 18. For more information, visit tiff.net.
Top image: A scene from We Need to Talk About Kevin. Courtesy TIFF.