PFF: Mother's Instinct, Non-Fiction, and The Guilty
Mother’s Instinct (dir. Olivier Masset-Depasse)
I walked into this film based on the still in the program guide and description alone. I adore Hitchcockian thrillers, but the 60s French aesthetic alone might have sold me (as evidenced by my recent yé-yé piece). And Mother’s Instinct doesn’t disappoint on either level.
Alice and Simon’s (Veerle Baetens and Mehdi Nebbou) home is wonderfully populated with teak furniture, brass wall-hangings, and other mid-century modern delights. Baetens wardrobe is filled with bright colors, patterns, accessorized with matching headbands and cat-eye sunglasses. This aesthetic is absolutely wonderful. Is it too soon to call 1960s films costume dramas? Because yes please.
But beyond all the style this film has to offer, there is an effective and twisty thriller at its center. I’d advise you not to get spoiled on this one, as the way the film plays with its plot is more satisfying in the way the plot turns from moment to moment. Baetens gives a fantastic performance, as does Anne Coesens as her neighbor. Director Olivier Masset-Depasse keeps us close to the actresses and therefore their characters, ensuring their emotions–which help drive the story–are always front and center
Mother’s Instinct is playing tonight (Tuesday, October 23) at 9:20 at the Ritz East. Details and tickets here.
Non-Fiction (dir. Olivier Assayas)
After my love for The Clouds of Sils Maria and Personal Shopper, I was beyond excited for Assayas’ new film, which is like a glass of port to wash down those two heavier films. It is much lighter in tone, and even less self-serious. But like the best hangout movies, there’s more to this film than just spending time with charming characters. And Assayas always has a lot on his mind.
No other filmmaker has consistently and astutely commented on our digital age. A typical indie with an Instagram subplot or a running text conversation feels shallow and unearned (Eighth Grade aside). However, Assayas challenges our use of digital technology without lambasting it. Here, Alain (Guillaume Canet) is a book publisher trying to navigate the digital waters, while his wife Selena (Juliette Binoche) wrestles with staying on her popular television series for another season. Over the course of the film, characters debate their points of view on publishing, politics, Twitter, The Force Awakens, Taylor Swift, and Michael Haneke. Assayas is making us look at our world, not to condemn it so much as make us more aware of it. Non-Fiction feels less weighty that his other recent films, but that only makes it even more fun.
Now I just need to figure out how to get invited to these fictional French dinner parties.
Non-Fiction is playing on Sunday, October 28 at 5PM at the Ritz East. Details and tickets here.
The Guilty (dir. Gustav Möller)
Shockingly confident for a first feature, the tension in The Guilty becomes nearly unbearable. The protagonist, Asger (Jakob Cedergren) is a cop recently reassigned to emergency services calls. As such, he can’t help but push the boundaries of this role, giving terse advice to callers as well as dispatchers and patrol cars. His restraint is pushed to the limits when he gets a call from a woman currently being abducted. As the threads unravel, guilt, empathy, duty, honor, and ego ping-pong across the phone lines and in and out of Asger’s headset.
The film never leaves the emergency calls office, and we spend all of it mere inches from Asger. Cedergren’s face acting is what this film survives on, and he handles it superbly. But the film also makes great use of actors providing only their voice, especially Jessica Dinnage and Omar Shargawi. The calls are rendered in lively detail, painting images in our minds that might be even more effective than seeing what’s on the other end of the line. Director Gustav Möller is certainly a name to watch out for going forward.