In a French community obsessed with country and western a teenage girl runs of with her Islamic boyfriend. In a haze of suspicious and xenophobia the girl’s father (François Damiens) fears the worst and embarks on fruitless trips across numerous countries with his son Kid (Finnegan Oldfield) in tow in search of the missing young woman. As the years pass Kid becomes disillusioned with the hunt and stay at home leaving his father to pursue his sister alone.
This first chapter of the film comes across as a decent thriller with a desperate father on the hunt for his daughter. I was expecting some conspiracy to be uncovered and for the father to come out victorious in a manner that would make Liam Neeson proud. This does not happen. Instead this section of the film comes to an abrupt end and we jump forward a few more years.
Now our focus is on Kid who is working for what I assume was an aid agency in Asia. Here Kid quite literally stumbles across the path of John C. Reilly playing some kind of evangelical human trafficker. Naturally Reilly’s American wanderer thinks he might know where Kid’s sister might be and so the two embark on an adventure across the desert and into a rough urban landscape. After some dramatic moments we head back to France and jump forward a few years. Again.
Having had the thriller and the action adventure Cowboys ends with a shorter chapter more along the lines of an emotional drama. One that neatly brings the story to a close and ties together loose threads in a neat, not necessarily satisfactory bow. With that the film is done. The plot of the film having chopped and changed numerous times we finally reach some sort of conclusion.
Each of the three chunks of the film are well made with tonally appropriate direction and fine acting but the three sections don’t sit well when sat flush against each other. The tone of the film kept changing which made for a jarring experience and no individual chapter got the proper resolution they deserved; as soon as something got interesting it would abruptly stop so we could move a few more years down the line.
Cowboys is by no means a terrible experience but is too uneven to be a great watch.
Cowboys screens the festival on the 15th and 16th October and tickets are still available online.
On a night out in Liverpool Kelly and Victor meet on the dance floor and are instantly drawn to each other. It is not long before their dancing in the nightclub moves to the bedroom and they spend an intensely passionate night together. It’s all very raw and real and as such the course of true love does not run smooth.
Kelly + Victor is adapted from a novel by Niall Griffiths and so is a mostly internal story. Love is a complex beast and with a romance as frantic and fast as that between Kelly and Victor it can be hard for anyone outside the couple to get a real sense of how they are feeling. While some romantic films find a way to let the audience in on the emotional side of their characters Kelly + Victor left me cold.
For me the experience was wholly unemotional. I was watching two bland characters spend little time together and yet treat their relationship as the great tragic romance of the 21st century. Maybe I am being cynical and unromantic but I couldn’t see a reason why both parties couldn’t walk away from their fling and move on with their lives. Yes, their lives were far from perfect but the film never gave me a sense that the couple were right for each other or showed that they connected on any level deeper than that of a typical one night stand.
You will find positive reviews out there but for whatever reason I found Kelly + Victor to be a disappointing film; the leads were hard to connect to and the visuals were uninspiring. Film is an art form and I can only offer a subjective opinion. It feels mean to be dismissive of any director’s first film so let me end with this caveat – Kelly + Victor got a great response from the rest of the audience but for me was indulgent, navel-gazing, and needlessly bleak without having any real heart. Plus I was in a bit of a mood when I watched it.
Lotus Eaters looks for a brief period in time at a group of privileged friends, not too hung up on plot, instead the focus more on atmosphere and characters. We see the group through the eyes of Alice (Antonia Campbell-Hughes) a former model and aspiring actress who is struggling with feelings for her heroin addicted ex-boyfriend Charlie (Johnny Flynn). Alice is more content on the fringes of the group, always slightly detached, and therefore all the more desirable to her male friends.
Shooting in black and white, leaning towards the lighter end of the scale, writer/director Alexandra McGuinness was trying to evoke the look of fashion photography and perfume commercials. Everything is made to look at its most beautiful, this is the opposite aesthetic to your typical gritty British drama and is a striking choice. This visual style certainly achieves the association with the fashion world but also lends the film an air of the synthetic: slightly unreal and otherworldly. This was reinforced by the world in which the characters exist; one of endless parties, high fashion and no real hard work. It is hard to find the emotion in such a bright, well turned out world.
The film is enjoyable for the most part, plenty of humour can be derived from the characters’ behaviour, and the acting and dialogue feels very natural and believable. However With the focus on characters rather than plot the film never truly satisfies and is more of a tasty snack than a hearty meal of a film.
Lotus Eaters is a stylish piece of cinema but is not an outfit I would try on again.
Notable Actor from an Advert: Amber Anderson from match.com ads. She is the girl who likes The Godfather Part III.
Lotus Eaters screens again at the London Film Festival this afternoon.