Day 4 will mark the day I lost my patience with my fellow delegates as a handful, worried they wouldn’t get into the super popular Roma, ran (literally) from the back of the queue to secure themselves seats. As a result I ended up sat at the foot of the screen with subtitles looming above me. But who am I to complain? An over privileged blogger is who!
Myself and five other critics who weren’t thinking tactically enough about what time they needed to start queueing for Roma braved the early morning screening of Last Child; a South Korean drama about two parents (Chi Moo-seong and Kim Yeo-jin) who recently lost their son when he drowned while saving one of his classmates.
The couple are going through the motions; conflicted about how to best move on from their tragedy and struggling for closure. A small spark starts to reignite their lives when the husband offers an apprenticeship at their interior decorating company to the boy whose life their son died saving. Kihyun (Seong Yu-bin) is wary of the couple at first but slowly he looks to them as surrogate parents in the same way that they seek to fill the hole their son has left behind. Slowly, subtly, their lives start to improve. Until the inevitable turn in Act III that is…
Last Child is deeply authentic and affecting. You feel the couple’s sadness and loss and understand their need to find someone to fill the open role in their lives. While the overall synopsis could lead to an over the top melodrama instead director Dong-seok Shin opts for a bubbling under the surface mellow drama.
Last Child screens at the festival on 13th, and 14th October.
Alfonso Cuarón’s two most recent films were a Harry Potter and 2013’s most talked about(?) film Gravity. After five years away he has returned to his roots with a black and white period drama set in Mexico City. Rather than another effects laden blockbuster he has gone for a properly cinematic portrait of a middle-class family in the 1970s and the maid who takes care of them. And while the film screams art-house cinema release, Cuarón has sold it to Netflix so there are no limits to who can add it to their queue.
The real star of Roma is the maid Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) who we cling to during our time on the bustling streets of Mexico City. We follow Cleo as she takes care of three generations of her employer’s family, as she indulges in romance, and as she experiences trauma and has to sweep it aside knowing that her own needs come second.
Cuarón has made a deeply personal film that sees him turn his back on what he has been praised for in recent films. He has stripped away the special effects, the star names, and even the colour to leave just his characters without distractions. Roma is a refreshingly old-fashioned film that is likely made more remarkable for who made it than what it contains.
Roma screens at the festival on 13th, 14th, and 15th October before being released on Netflix on 14th December.
Writer-director Olivier Assayas has been on a great run in recent years with the industry-satirising Clouds of Sils Maria and the ghostly/sexy Personal Shopper. This year he reunites with Juliette Binoche and turns his attention to the publishing industry.
Using a handful of characters as his mouthpieces Assayas debates with himself about the future of publishing, the relative benefits of digital vs. pysical media, and who has a right to access art. Giving the characters something to do when they aren’t debating are a few affairs here and there but these scenes have the screen fade to black only to return us, post-coitus, to yet more debate.
The film has its charms and the endless dialogue is interesting and amusing but I couldn’t see if there were characters behind the theorising or if they were just props holding up Assayas’ argument. There is genuinely only one topic of conversation on these characters lips so your enjoyment of the film is directly correlated with how compelling you find this discussion.
Non-Fiction screens at the festival on 13th, 14th, and 21st October.