This year was a very different London Film Festival. Mostly taking place online, I managed to catch six films, three at the BFI and three digitally. Here’s my take on each. I’ve arranged them in the order I saw them,
Directed by Talya Lavie, this Isreali rom-com follows two newly-weds as they try and navigate their first night of marriage. Eleanor and Noam begin their night with an argument over their exes who were both at the wedding. As things escalate they go out into the city, at first together and then separately. They encounter people they know and also a number of strangers that challenge what they know about themselves and each other. Honeymood sometimes wanders into the absurd for example a random dance scene that ensues between Eleanor and some workmen. I really enjoyed Honeymood, it was a jolly romp with the odd bit of obscurity that made me go, ‘hang on what?’
Farewell Amour was my personal least favourite of the six. Not to say it wasn’t good, because it was, but I didn’t get the feels as much as others who I watched it with did. Ekwa Msangi directed and wrote the film, which follows a family of three (Walter, Esther and Sylvia) as they try and build their life together after Esther and Sylvia join Walter in the U.S. – they had been living in Angola for 17 years. First it follows Walter, then Sylvia (the daughter) then Esther (the mother). I liked the story of how they try and integrate and in particular Sylvia’s, as she tries to marry her desire to dance with her expectations her mother sets her. Farewell Amour is a subtle and effecting drama about the endurance of love and family.
Robyn (right in the photo) and her father Bill (voiced by Sean Bean) have just moved to a new town and Bill works as a hunter, hunting wolves. Robyn also wants to be a hunter but her father thinks it’s way too dangerous. Like any self respecting heroine she ignores him and heads into the woods where she meets the wolves and Mebh who is a Wolfwalker – a girl when she’s awake and a wolf at night. Robyn has to work to save the wolves as the town try and destroy them. I loved this film, it was so beautifully drawn and the story was touching. Robyn is a great heroine and Mebh is a feisty companion. It’s a story about family and friendship and overcoming adversity. It’s also so gorgeous it’s basically art. Wolfwalkers was driected by Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart.
Harry Macqueen’s story of love will pretty much bring anyone to tears. Tusker (Tucci) has early onset dementia and his partner Sam (Firth) takes him on a camping trip and to see his family. Tusker has convinced Sam to play a concert at the end of the trip (Sam is a pianist) but Sam discovers his real motivation behind this. Supernova is about how far you would go for the ones you love and how letting go is sometimes the kindest thing to do. Tucci and Firth are brilliant together, they are sweet and comfortable and they laugh at the things that real, long term couples would laugh at. Tusker’s affliction is heartbreaking and it makes you feel SO many feelings. Wonderful.
The newest Disney Pixar, directed by Pete Docter (the guy who did Inside Out) follows the story of Joe (Jamie Foxx) and 22 (Tina Fey). Joe is a music teacher and jazz musician who manages to die on what should be the most important day of his life. To try and get back to his body he mentors a “soul” in the form of 22 who has not managed to find her way to a body yet. They form a friendship as they both try and achieve their goals: Joe to live again and 22 to stay in the soul world forever. Suffice to say, Soul is wonderful. It’s really funny and fun. It plays on ideas of living every day to its fullest and how finding “purpose” isn’t everything – it can be more than one thing. The music is amazing, a jazz motif for New York and this weird ambiance for the soul world. Definitely put this on your to-watch list – Soul is the perfect pixar movie.
The last at the festival (and thus the last we saw) Ammonite is my favourite of the six. If you’ve seen Portrait of a Lady on Fire you’ll hopefully understand the profound effect it had on me. Ammonite is similar in this respect, it is the story of Mary (Winslet) and Charlotte (Ronan). Mary is a geologist and fossil expert; Charlotte is a lonely wife whose husband thinks she should spend some time with Mary. They form a bond that is almost indescribable – not just love or friendship. The small town they live in is different for each and together they experience it and life afterwards. Not only is this my number one film of the year so far, but I doubt it will be replaced. Ammonite was directed by Francis Lee.
★★★★★ times a million.