THOR: THE DARK WORLD opens this week and should take a big chunk at the box-office. Two highly charged emotional dramas open as well, one straight THE BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWN and the other gay BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOUR if you want to watch something more down-to-earth.
THE BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWN (Belgium 2012) **
Directed by Felix van Groeningen
The first few minutes of the film which shows the little daughter Maybelle getting cancer treatments at the hospital while her parents wrestle with their daughter’s fate sets the angry tone of the film. This is the story of the stormy relationship of tattoo artist Elise (Veerle Baetens) and banjo-playing bluegrass musician Didier (Johan Heldenbergh) put to the ultimate test when Maybelle eventually dies early in the film. Elise joins the band and the band does well.
The film is intensely authentic with the fights and screaming. But we have seen films like this before in which each parent blames the other for the death. Elise blames Didier’s family cancer history while he on her smoking and drinking the few months of pregnancy. Though there is validity in their arguments (Elise did not realize she was pregnant the first weeks and it is not fair to blame family history), it is really annoying to watch lots of screaming and shouting knowing that the result is a lose/lose situation.
Heldenbergh wrote the play in which this film is based and it gives him too much opportunity to vent his anger at worldly issues. The film takes the audience through full circle of life from meeting, romance, love, parenthood and death. There is a long vent at American President George Bush’s veto on cell stem research in the U.S. and an even longer display of anger at God after one of the band’s performances. With shouting like that, one would hardly take the side of Heldenbergh even though one might agree with the issues because of his extreme obnoxious behavior.
Director Groeningen shoots his film in non-chronological order jumping all over the place. Didier and Elise’s first meeting is seen midway during the film and Elise’s suicide at the film’s start (therefore not being a spoiler in this review). The narrative is hugely compromised as a result with the success of the film built entirely on drama of the relationship.
The film lasts almost two hours. It is quite a chore to watch two unlikeable characters dish it out with each other. The only watchable segments are the band’s on stage performances. The soundtrack album containing a mix of traditional and original bluegrass compositions became a bestseller in Belgium.
KILL YOUR DARLINGS (USA 2013) **
Directed by John Krokidas
Set in the Beat Generation years of the 1943, New Jersey, KILL YOUR DARLINGS is the story of a young Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) and William S. Burroughs (Ben Foster) embroiled in the notorious 1944 murder of Burroughs’ friend
David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall), which their friend Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan) is suspect.
Krokidas who co-wrote the script plays with the law and with his film as a whodunit. But the revelation of the murder is observed by flashback, which kills the mystery so created. The interaction of the literary figures are also examined in the film but Krokidas cannot concentrate on what his film should be about.
Though the atmosphere is effectively created, aided by an impressive musical score that includes a few bright tunes to liven up the proceedings, KILL YOUR DARLINGS is still a rather boring piece of work that seems to have no goal.
The script hinders any of the performances to shine outright, but Krokidas’ film does have a few moving segments in between.
LA VIE D’ADELE (1 &2)
(BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOUR) (France 2013) ***
Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche
The odd title BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOUR has nothing to do with the French translation of THE LIFE OF ADELE. Blue is the Emma’s dyed hair and also of the dress that Adele wears at the end of the film to Emma’s Exhibition.
This is a 3-hour lesbian film, the sound of it sufficient to drive audiences away in droves. But the film did win Cannes Palme d’Or this year. The film does drag on and thee is no break between the two parts. The film generally charts the life of Adele (Adele Exarchopoulos) from the age of 15 at school to her sexual awakening. She finds no sexual attraction to the boy she dates, who eventually dumps her. She meets blue haired Emma (Lea Seydoux) and many long and repeated sex scenes result with lots of moaning and groaning. The sexual scenes are erotic enough but one can even tire of too much of a good thing. There is not much anticipation in the story.
The final confrontation between Emma and Adele when Emma finds that she has been cheated for a boy seems forced from Emma’s part. And what has the boy have to say, as he just conveniently disappears. But the reason of the breakup, which implies that their relationship has not grown and grounded too much in sex, is nevertheless quite accurate. A 3-hour mixed bag of tricks!
Best Bets of the Week:
Best Film Opening: Thor: The Dark World/Blue is the Warmest Colour
Best Film Playing: Blue Jasmine
Bes Comedy: This is The End
Best Foreign: Les Salauds (Bastards)
Best Animation: Turbo
Best Action: Ender’s Game
Best Documentary: Red Obsession