In the fifth part of our TIFF 2013 preview, Dave Voigt takes a look at The Invisible Woman, R100, and Dallas Buyers Club. Follow all of our TIFF 2013 coverage at criticizethis.ca/tiff.
The Invisible Woman
Director: Ralph Fiennes
The Invisible Woman is based on the biography of Nelly Ternan (Felicity Jones), who, while performing in the London’s Haymark theatre, was spotted by Charles Dickens (Ralph Fiennes) and had a rapturous love affair that inspired some of the author’s more iconic works.
With his directorial follow-up to the Shakespearean militarized action of Coriolanus, The Invisible Woman is a fairly reserved, but immaculately crafted Victorian type love story. Fiennes shoots the English countryside with a real sad, but immaculate grace as some of the images he throws on the screen are utterly breathtaking. The script by Academy Award winner Abi Morgan keeps the narrative flowing across the screen and we are consistently engaged with the story even when Fiennes tries to be a little too arty at times. It’s a solid and compelling love story thanks to some rock steady leading performances.
Felicity Jones effectively carries the film as Ternan, a young and pained woman who is passionately in love with a man that society deems she can’t be with. Jones plays the roll with anguish, heartbreak and anger as she exists in a time where ideals are changing and people are struggling to keep up. Fiennes is his usual stalwart self, making Dickens into a flawed, creative genius. Kristen Scott Thomas and Tom Hollander also deliver some fine turns in supporting roles.
At the end of the day, The Invisible Woman is an engaging period piece that shows the potential of Ralph Fiennes as a director.
Rating: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Monday, September 9 at 6 p.m. at the Elgin (Visa Screening Room)
Tuesday, September 10 at 11:45 a.m. at the TIFF Bell Lightbox
Director: Hitoshi Matsumoto
Takafumi (Nao Ohmori) is a mild-mannered father who escapes the pressures of daily life by joining a mysterious S&M club for one year, where the so-called Queens visit clients in real-life settings. While at first the rough treatment and humiliation he receives from leather-clad women in cafés and restaurants is enjoyable, Takafumi soon realizes that he’s opened a door that cannot be closed because in this club there is only one rule, no cancellations under any circumstances.
With a title that is a play on the Japanese rating system, R100 is a gonzo adventure into the realm of S&M that even the most demented of us would have had a tough time imagining. Director Hitoshi Matsumoto comes from a comedy background and while this film may not play perfectly for North American audiences, it will easily appeal to anyone with a real bent towards the bizarre as it falls somewhere between the classic Japanese ghost story Kuroneko and Our Man Flint. In a sepia tone, it keeps us guessing as it randomly stops at various intervals for the rating board to discuss how insane it all really is.
The performances are well and good, but everyone involved does embrace the nature of the story that honestly has to be seen to be believed.
R100 strains credibility at the best of times, but that’s kind of the point of it all, don’t over think it and just brace yourself for the crazy ride that you just can’t look away from.
Rating: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Thursday, September 12 at 11:59 p.m. at the Ryerson Theatre
Friday, September 13 at 11:30 a.m. at the Scotiabank Theatre
Saturday, September 14 at 9 p.m. at the Scotiabank Theatre
Dallas Buyers Club * Criticize This! TIFF Pick *
Director: Jean Marc Vallee
It’s Texas, 1986 and Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) is a boozing, foul-mouthed, womanizing heterosexual who contracts HIV. When his doctors only give him 30 days to live he fights, not just to save and extend his own life, but countless others in the process.
Director Jean Marc Vallee steers a little more towards the traditional in this biopic, yet it still holds his trademark panache as the story of this man fighting to survive simply jumped off the screen. It’s a period piece that simply doesn’t feel like it, as it all feels fresh, vital and firmly fixed in the moments that it shares with us. At its core it is very much a film where the actors truly do lead the director along the narrative path and with this ensemble it may lead to some serious awards consideration.
Matthew McConaughey truly owned the role, not only losing a dangerous amount of weight, but fully embracing the joie de vivre of a man who is living every day the best he can because it might be his last. Jared Leto also drops a huge amount of weight in an equally compelling performance as his business partner and gateway into the gay community, while Jennifer Garner shines as a compassionate doctor who wants to buck the system and just save lives.
Book your tickets now when it opens in November, because Dallas Buyers Club is a gripping true life story that is unquestionably bound for multiple awards.
Rating: **** (out of 5 stars)
No more showings at TIFF.
TIFF 2013 runs from September 5 – 15. For more information, visit tiff.net.
Top image: A scene from R100. Courtesy TIFF.