Directed by Lee Haven Jones, The Feast is a Welsh horror film that pits the characters’ own greed and selfishness against themselves. Glenda (Nia Roberts) and Gwyn (Julian Lewis Jones) are hosting a dinner party at their home to convince their neighbor Mair (Lisa Palfrey) to take a business proposition from Euros (Rhodri Meilir). Gwyn is a politician who’s made money hand over fist with shady business deals especially when it comes to crude oil. Their sons Gweirydd (Sion Alun Davies) and Guto (Steffan Cennydd) are outliers at the party, bitter against their parents and both engage in their own forms of self-punishment. The force of chaos comes in the form of Cadi (Annes Elwy) a young woman Glenda has hired to help with the dinner. Cadi is mysterious, quiet and about to give the dinner guests a taste of their own medicine.
The Feast is a visually captivating but ultimately shallow revenge horror film. The conceit is neither explained nor is it able to be pieced together with clues from different scenes. The mystery lacks resolution and will ultimately leave the viewer unsatisfied.
The Feast is distributed by IFC Films and available to rent on demand.
Any woman who has grown up in a culture that prizes male heirs over female children know all too well the pain of being a father’s disappointment. Diana had a great relationship with her Vietnamese father during her childhood in the Czech Republic. However, when, after three miscarriages, her mother finally got pregnant again, their relationship came to an abrupt end. Diana’s father left the family, looking to start again in hopes of continuing the bloodline with his name.
Love, Dad/Milý Tati is a heart-wrenching short film about a young girl who remembers her dad and the bond they had before it was cruelly taken away. It’s beautiful, poetic and deeply melancholic. Directed by Diana Cam Van Nguyen, it tells the story through letters, memories and gorgeous cut paper art.
I was quite moved by this 13 minute film. I’m the third of a string of daughters born to a man who desperately wanted a son. I was lucky that my father never expressed any form of disappointment in only having daughters but I did feel the pang of guilt when the family name died with him.
Love, Dad/Milý Tati premiered at the 2021 AFI Fest as part of their Shorts Competition.
Something always been a little off about Alexia (Agathe Rousselle). As a child, she did not get along with her emotionally distant father. Their involvement in a terrible car accident sends Alexia to the hospital where doctors treat her skull fracture by adding a titanium plate. Fast forward to more than a decade later and Alexia has developed a lust for metal. She gyrates on top of cars for a living. She’s also the mysterious serial killer who the police are desperate to identify. When one of her victims escapes, Alexia transforms to Adrien, pretending to be firefighter Vincent Legrand’s (Vincent Lindon) long lost son. What Alexia doesn’t realize is that she’s met her match with Vincent. And what Vincent doesn’t realize is that “Adrien” is hiding some terrible secrets.
Directed by Julia Ducournau, Titane is a wild ride. It’s relentlessly brutal, completely bonkers and yet it somehow makes sense even when it doesn’t. Rousselle and Lindon have a raw intensity that is perfect for their messed-up characters. Ducournau explores the father-daughter dynamic in a way I’ve never seen before. There are a few plot holes but you get so sucked into the craziness of the story that they really don’t matter. Titane is not for the faint of heart but if you’re into body horror, this film is for you.
Update: Titaneis distributed by Neon and is available to rent on demand.
Celebrity journalist France de Meurs (Léa Seydoux) is recognized everywhere she goes. She hosts one of France’s top news shows and is known for her provocative interviews and her exceptional war coverage. What folks don’t see is the real woman behind-the-scenes. She’s a master manipulator who will do anything for the best shot. It doesn’t help that her trusted assistant Lou (Blanche Gardin) eggs her on. France’s marriage to Fred (Benjamin Biolay) is in shambles, her son wants nothing to do with her and her celebrity status affords her little by way of privacy. An accident caused by France triggers her emotional breakdown where she must face personal truths amidst all the lies she’s created for herself.
Written and directed by Bruno Dumont, France is a hot mess saved by its brilliant star Léa Seydoux. It feels overly long with scenes that linger long after what seems like their natural end. And some scenes could have been cut out entirely.
One of the strengths of the film is how the story and its title character gets under your skin. This film is intended to make the audience squirm in their seat and it does that quite effectively. France de Meurs is an unlikable character and Seydoux adds the intensity and humanity the viewer needs to even be invested in her story.
Dumont’s story casts a critical eye on the falseness of the media, the dehumanization caused by celebrity culture and the negative perception of women in powerful roles. And Seydoux is the messenger of all of the film’s big messages. I just wish the film was a bit shorter and had more of a focus.
Kudos to costume designer Alexandra Charles. Léa Seydoux’s wardrobe in the film is absolutely stupendous. I wanted to reach through the screen and pluck out each and every outfit to add them to my closet.
France is part of the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival’s Special Presentations slate.
Nelly (Josephine Sanz) is playing in the woods by her grandmother’s house when she meets Marion (Gabrielle Sanz). The two eight year olds are the spitting image of each other and instantly bond spending all their free time together. Nelly is visiting the area as her parents clear out the house after her grandmother passed away. Her despondent mother has mysteriously left, leaving Nelly worried that she won’t come back. Nelly and Marion confide in each other, sharing their fears and sparking each other’s imagination. And as it turns out, they have more in common than meets the eye.
“I was already thinking of you.”
It’s difficult to talk about Petite Maman without revealing the twist. However, the title itself is the biggest spoiler. Directed by Celine Sciamma, this gentle drama is as hopeful as it is melancholic. It explores the complexities of relationships and the fleeting nature of childhood but in a very subtle way.
It’s only 70 minutes long and while that seems short, it’s really the perfect amount of time to tell Nelly and Marion’s story. I like how Sciamma hints at Nelly’s gender expression with a few of the scenes. This film reminded me of Sciamma’s Tomboy which also focuses on a child on a journey of self-discovery. Petite Maman might now wow audiences like Portrait of a Lady on Fire but it will tap into some emotions that lie just beneath the surface.
Petite Maman is part of the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival’s Special Presentations slate.