The raw material of the film is the daily, soul-sucking minutiae that comes with choosing and devoting oneself to the artist life in a country that cannot nor will not sustain such endeavors, rendering them ever more impractical without competitive grants, family money, or other such safety nets.
For me, there is one goal as an actor: truth. What is the truth in a situation? Because you are a reference to people. People are spending time to watch you, so you become their reference of a situation... if the audience is spending time watching you, there is a responsibility.
So much of the screenplay is concerned with the flashy presence of big, topical themes like Trauma, Abuse, and Toxic Masculinity. Garland is intrigued by these themes as talking points, but he is incapable of incorporating them into the lived realities of his characters in ways that feel organically rooted in real-world concerns.
Bemoaning or simply acknowledging the metastasis of the “Sundance film” has an obvious tendency of obscuring the nonfiction and non-English narrative entries that premiere at the festival and aren’t likely to be sought out by viewers, especially virtual ones.
Red Rocket offers not a treatise against toxic masculinity, but an embodiment of it, eschewing grand statements that point back to its own topical import in favor of studying a singular character who boasts all of its worst traits with a shameless, belief-beggaring entitlement.
The overlapping bonds that come into focus in The Humans are defined as much by gentle, deep-seated affection as by private griefs, infuriating fallibilities, and past brushes with the void around whose edge so many of us, save for the most privileged, are perpetually circling.
Despite Mills’s best efforts, his fussed-over films can teeter into preciousness, especially in the concluding reunions and resolutions that cohere a little too neatly. Patness isn’t exactly the problem in C’mon C’mon—its ending is actually one of the more open-ended in Mills’s filmography—as much as its dubious blending of fact and fiction.
Hamaguchi leaves room for a viewer to meet his characters in media res during situations augmented by his keen eye for detail, his unidealized world-building, and his understanding that even the most ordinary life is a vessel of passion and pain worthy of cinematic treatment.
What does it mean to create not just in the shadow but in the very kingdom of a towering genius, one who has left a permanent mark on so many who make movies? And what if this mark is less a blessing than a curse, something like a psychic stain that stifles the creative impulse rather than nurtures it?
Neither Koleśnik nor von Horn seek to demean Sylwia or her passion; they depict Sylwia as achieving something like serenity when working out and pushing herself beyond her threshold of pain, respecting her work by recognizing it, first and foremost, as work, as a form of labor that requires discipline and diligence.
It isn’t a stretch of the imagination to imagine my grandmother’s threat coming from the mouth of any one of Almodóvar’s fierce materfamilias, whose protectiveness is all but instinctual, their brashness an armor against a world inclined to disrespect and devalue them.
Would our attention even be drawn, much less held, by Anne were an actor of Binoche’s stature not inhabiting her? Of course not, and Binoche appears to know that. Perhaps this is why, as the film progresses, Binoche seems to actually be leveraging the magnetism of her celebrity to vouch for the character.
The crowning achievement of this drama is the game and invigorating performance of Regina Williams, from her flinty exasperation to her no-guff candor to her sly, self-protective sarcasm. Hers is a performance suffused with compassion yet devoid of cheap and easy sentiment.