In the seventh part of our TIFF 2012 preview, Andrew Parker takes a look at Inch’Allah, End of Watch, and All That You Possess. Follow all of our TIFF 2012 coverage at criticizethis.ca/tiff.
Inch’Allah * Criticize This! TIFF Pick *
Director: Anais Barbeau-Lavalette
Slowly building buzz as one of Canada’s leading contenders for a Best Foreign Film nomination at this year’s Oscars (thanks to the involvement of the producers behind Incendies and Monsieur Lazhar), Inch’Allah will definitely spark a dialogue amongst those who see it thanks to the obvious politics involved with any film daring to take an outsiders look at the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, but what sets Lavalette’s film apart is it’s spot on account of a woman in the throes of a slowly building nervous breakdown.
Chloe (Evelyne Brochu, giving a splendidly nuanced performance) has come from Quebec to work as a doctor in a woman’s clinic who gets drawn into the life of an expectant Palestinian mother despite living literally on the other side of the border in Israel while the mother’s settlement comes under heavy fire.
In a country where the tenuous balance between peace and war is fraught with tension and unease, watching Chloe’s crisis of faith feels fascinating and heartbreaking. Lavalette doesn’t search for answers to hard questions that outsiders can’t answer, but she very wisely crafts a character study of someone who could never hope to understand no matter how hard she tries. The ending can be telegraphed pretty easily, and the film’s final moments might bring about heated debate about the politics behind it all, but that’s not the point in a crisis where there haven’t been any “winners” for a long time.
Rating: **** (out of five stars)
Monday, September 10 at 6:45 p.m. at the Scotiabank
End of Watch
Director: David Ayer
Director David Ayer (Harsh Times, Street Kings) returns to the streets of South Central Los Angeles and the men who risk their lives to police them in this utterly ludicrous and thoroughly unbelievable semi-found footage movie that celebrates the police while fetishizing the same relentless shoot ‘em up machismo they should be stopping.
Working out of the dangerous 13 division, Officers Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal, whose character is taking a university elective in filmmaking, hence the shaky cam) and Zavala (Michael Pena) find themselves caught up in the middle of a hostile take over of all illegal activity by a Mexican cartel.
There’s so much wrong with this movie, that it’s easy to start with what’s right. Pena is fantastic, and even though she’s wasted in a thankless, go nowhere roles Anna Kendrick adds some class as Taylor’s girlfriend, but that’s it. The dialogue never rises above an endless stream of useless profanity that’s more headache inducing than the camerawork, and the plot is so outlandishly implausible (every case these guys go on is magically connected to the same overlying problem and even the gangbangers and the cartel just happen to be filming everything) that no amount of verite will make anything stick. Also, in typical Ayer fashion, everyone’s unlikable. It’s not the tribute I think Ayer quite wants it to be.
Rating: * 1/2 (out of five stars)
Sunday, September 9 at 3 p.m. at the Ryerson Theatre
Saturday, September 15 at 9 p.m. at the Elgin (Visa Screening Room)
All That You Possess
Director: Bernard Emond
Following his most recent trilogy of depressing, religiously tinged films, Quebecois legend Emond (20h17 rue Darling) returns with his best work in years, and it feels like a deeply personal portrait of someone that has spent so much time around depressing subject matter that they have in turn become depressed themselves.
Emond’s surrogate here is a fed up Literature professor that has cut himself off from the world to translate poetry by an obscure suicidal Polish writer that passed away decades earlier. While sealed in his own hermetic world of sadness, the man is forced to confront the past he left behind as a child that he wanted aborted in his university days is now grown and wondering why her mother never mentioned him before. During this time, he also has to reconcile his strained relationship with his recently deceased slumlord father.
Patrick Drolet does a great job in the lead, looking like a man with nothing left to give to the world, but Emond’s direction around Drolet is positively vibrant in comparison to his more recent work. It’s also far less depressing, and oddly his most hopeful work.
Rating: ***1/2 (out of five stars)
Monday, September 10 at 7:15 p.m. at the TIFF Bell Lightbox
Wednesday, September 12 at 2:15 p.m. at the Cineplex Yonge-Dundas
TIFF 2012 runs from September 6 – 16. For more information, visit tiff.net.
Top image: A scene from Inch’Allah. Courtesy TIFF/eOne Films.