Final Film Festival minireviews

Another TIFF season has come and gone. For more reviews, check out this great TIFF blog, Craig at the Toronto International Film Festival. Craig is seeing 40 films, and writing reviews for all of them. Impressive work.

L’Homme de sa vie (“Man of My Life”):

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Replacing The Bubble as my favourite of the festival, L’Homme de sa vie is a wonderfully executed film by Zabou Breitman. Mature, thoughtful, with beautiful cinematography, L’Homme de sa vie tells an insightful and very human story about a contented family man on vacation with his family in the south of France and the relationship he develops with his gay neighbour. It is not a gay film per se. The two men are forever changed by a conversation they have one evening after a big dinner party, and events unfold that explore questions of family, love, fidelity and identity. The colours, visual style and sounds of this film are simply stunning. It features great, understated performances and pacing that communicate the long, lazy days of midsummer. The audience is given the space that allows the subtle human moments to stand out. Highly Recommended.

I have often been disappointed by “Gay Cinema”, but films like L’Homme de sa vie, The Bubble and last year’s Brokeback Mountain have shown what can be done with gay themes and characters. Traditional Gay Cinema has often been hard-edged with a political message, or reverting to awful stereotypes and cliched coming out stories. What is more interesting to me is how gay characters and themes are often able to express universal human themes in new ways. These three films are fantastic examples.

Snow Cake:

Snow Cake, from Director Marc Evans is a Canada/UK coproduction filmed on location in Wawa, Ontario and in studio in Toronto. The screenplay is a first for writer Angela Pell. Featuring big stars in Sigourney Weaver and Alan Rickman and music from Broken Social Scene, there is much here for wide audience appeal. The film delivers, with solid performances from Weaver and Rickman, a heartwarming and funny script that delivers a lot of great moments. Weaver plays Linda, an autistic woman whose daughter Vivienne dies in an accident with Rickman’s Alex at the wheel. Alex, ridden by guilt commits to help Linda until the funeral. As he enters Linda’s strange world outside the bounds of social norms and convention, he experiences a new freedom to confront his own past and demons. It is a redemptive story with great moments. While not without its flaws, it delivers on the audience’s expectations. Worth a look.

And, with that, another film festival season is over. I’m looking forward to next year, and look forward to catching some of the films I missed at the festival when they come to theatres.

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