LFF 2019 Day 7 – Earthquake Bird | Pink Wall

Day 7 and I cheated on the film festival. After having my patience tested in the morning I jettisoned myself away to watch Joker and… Thankfully I don’t have to write anything to add to the conversation around that particular film. Then it was back to the festival to screening chaos and confused delegates.

Earthquake Bird

Prior to the screening there was a lot of buzz around Earthquake Bird. Wash Westmoreland has adapted Susanna Jones’ award-winning debut novel for the big screen and Alicia Vikander is starring as a Japanese translator in a Tokyo-set thriller. Expectations were high! And oh, how they missed the mark.

Vikander plays Lucy, a bland interpreter who meets bland photographer Teiji (Naoki Kobayashi) and falls in love. All is going well until she also befriends the near-bland American Lily (Riley Keough). Lily has moved to Japan for a fresh start but is reluctant to learn the language or do anything to fit into her new surroundings.

Lucy is burdened by being Lily’s conduit to Japanese society and before long is extra burdened when Lily goes missing and Lucy becomes the main suspect. Add into the mix some random childhood flashbacks, the occasional foreboding conversation, and a few incongruous thriller cliches and the result is a mess. And not even a fun mess.

Earthquake Bird has a simple Girl on the Train style plot that is clumsily told in the least interesting way. Instead of foreshadowing we get clearly signposted twists and instead of characters to invest in we get cardboard cutouts. The cast involved are much better that the performances they are able to give here and the fact that the film lacks any tension or intrigue shows that the blame lies elsewhere.

One to add to your Netflix list and never get round to watching.

Pink Wall

Seeing Pink Wall after Joker was probably a mistake because by that point I was not in the right frame of mind for a tender, intimate portrait of a relationship.

Tom Cullen plays with film-making styles as he makes his directing debut. Armed with Jay Duplass and Tatiana Maslany as his leads Cullen takes us through six periods of a relationship as we hop into different years of the main duo’s time together as a couple. For each period Cullen adopts a different visual style, playing with aspect ratio in a way that heightens distance or intimacy rather that distracting from the rest of the film.

Duplass and Maslany are compelling leads and rarely does one or the other leave the screen. Working in a clearly improvised style they bring a huge amount of authenticity to their roles as two Americans in London falling in and out of love. We get to indulge in their first meeting as they stay up all night talking, watch them navigate the war zone of a dinner party, take sides as they fight outside a pub, and witness their inevitable downfall.

There is nothing artificial to be found in Pink Wall but whether you enjoy yourself or not will largely depend on how endearing you find the couple in question. Like sitting near a couple in love on a train the film often thrusts you into a world of pet names and in jokes which will either have you giggling along or rolling your eyes in frustration. The bitter soul that I am, I sadly fell into the latter camp.

I admire what Cullen has attempted with Pink Wall and can’t fault Duplass and Maslany but sadly found myself getting annoyed with the characters they collectively created. That said I can’t wait to see what any of them do next. Good film, bad blogger.

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