The theme of day six was me constantly second guessing my choices before each screening and then thoroughly enjoying every film I saw. I also made a great curry when I got home but that’s a topic for a different type of blog.
Jessie Buckley caught everyone’s attention in this year’s Beast as a shy young woman who is awoken by a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. In Wild Rose she is no shrinking violet and the tracks are on the other foot(?) this time. She plays Rose-Lynn, a single mother fresh from 12 months behind bars who dreams of becoming a country star in Nashville. Unfortunately the realities of life, living in a dingy flat with her kids and an ankle tag in Glasgow, make those dreams seem impossible.
Rose-Lynn is supported, and brought back to reality, by her mother, Julie Walters, who has held the fort while Rose-Lynn was in prison and the children’s father was noticeably absent. Starting a new job as a cleaner Rose-Lynn finds her dreams indulged by her boss, Sophie Okonedo, and starts leading a double life. At work she is a single young woman with a unique talent that could take her anywhere, whilst at home she is struggling to relate to her children and can’t leave her flat past 7pm.
The film excellently shows Rose-Lynn’s internal struggle as she bounces between her two realities and the conflicting advice of her mother and her boss. Her mother’s advice coming from years of working class struggle and experience, and her boss’s from a few years of struggle and then middle class utopia. What is achievable in the sending of an email for one is a fantasy for the other.
Wild Rose is a beautifully messy story about figuring out life’s priorities. I kept expecting the film to put a foot wrong and offer up a trite ending but it stayed the course beautifully.
Wild Rose screens at the festival on 15th, 16th, and 20th October before being released in the UK on 19th April 2019.
Isabella Eklöf’s directorial debut is not an easy watch. The film centers on Sascha (Victoria Carmen Sonne), the painfully young employee/girlfriend of Michael (Lai Yde), a Danish drug lord. When Sascha goes on holiday to Turkey with Micheal and his motley crew she expects days full with lazing in the sun wearing complicated swimsuits and nights filled with drinking, dancing, and drugs. She is right for 90% of the time. It is the other 10% that made me wince.
When Michael is happy then Sascha’s vacation meets her expectations. When Michael is upset, by some miscellaneous drug trade gone wrong or his girlfriend flirting with another man, then things get unpleasant quickly. Michael turns against his trophy in violent and sexual ways that we are forced to watch in single, unflinching takes. Even when the violence has abated a sense of tension pervades the quieter moments of the film and even people or places that seem like safe spaces fall foul of the film’s simmering aggression.
A beautiful and grotesque portrait of toxic masculinity in the sun.
Holiday screens at the festival on 15th, 16th, and 17th October.
A film of this length rarely rattles along at quite the pace that Believer achieves, a film which starts off jogging for a few minutes before sprinting away for the next two hours. Won-ho (Cho Jin-woong) is a narcotics cop on the hunt for the mysterious Mr Lee who nobody has seen but who runs a major drugs operation in South Korea. After Mr Lee’s senior staff are blown up in a meth lab, Won-ho gains the confidence of the explosion’s sole survivor Rak (Ryu Jun-yeol), a drug runner on the lowest level of the drug empire.
With Rak’s help Won-ho and his team quickly infiltrate a world of million dollar (billion won) drug deals to slowly work their way towards Mr Lee. This journey begins with a spectacular set piece where Won-ho impersonates both sides of a high level drug trade on different floors of a hotel, in the first meeting picking up the mannerisms he would then have to replicate in the second. From here the film kept moving so fast it was up to me to scramble to keep up and I think I just about managed it.
Believer is a big, bombastic Korean thriller that never pauses long enough for you to worry about whether it makes sense or not. This is a silly film that takes itself very seriously and I had a lot of fun.
Believer screens at the festival on 16th, 17th, and 19th October before being released in the UK on 19th April 2019.