So I’m falling a little behind on my LFF reviewing… Cos I’m a little lazy. And also it takes time, which I haven’t been giving myself to write them. So here are three short and snappy reviews of the last three films I’ve seen at the London Film Festival.
–LITTLE WHITE LIES: Guillaume Canet’s (Tell No One) film about a group of friends, and the little white lies they tell each other. It starts off with one of the group having an accident, and the rest of them decided whether or not to go on their annual vacation. It takes a moment to figure out the relationship between all of them, but maybe that’s because I just assumed they were all friends. Which, as it turns out they were. Its not clear how they became friends either, because some of them are older, some are girlfriends who don’t seem so attached to the group but know everyone well. Its a bit like a psychotic family, but rather a psychotic group of friends. And I love psychotic family stuff. So it was pretty good. And it had Marion Cotillard in it. It was mainly a comedy, or I found a lot of it funny, but it gets quite intense towards the end, which you could see coming. Its good to watch if you don’t mind subtitles. Or, you know French. Its a little long for its genre, at 154 minutes, but it doesn’t get boring.
–MIRAL: Based on an autobiographical novel by Rula Jebreal, a Palestinian journalist who grew up in an orphanage in Jerusalem, its directed by Julien Schnabel (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly). Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) plays the title character, and she’s alright, but she honestly is not that great of an actor. She does look a bit like Rula Jebreal though, which is convenient. Also, not to be superficial but she’s a bit too dark skinned to play a Palestinian, I thought. (I’m South Asian as well, I’m not being racist by calling her dark.) Hiam Abbas, who plays Hind al-Husseini – the woman who began the orphanage after the partition of Palestine in ‘48 – was brilliant, as was Alexander Siddig, who plays Miral’s father. Those two really made the film much more watchable. For a autobiographical story, it does not feel like you’re watching a story through one main character; there is a lot of focus on the other women who are significant parts to the story, and it wouldn’t make sense without it. However, the film lacks that sense of it being personal. The score was good, but I felt like I had heard almost all of it before. I definitely noticed some recycled A. R. Rahman pieces.
–WEST IS WEST: As sequels go, this feels quite unnecessary, before and after you’ve seen the film. But, whether or not people really care 11 years later, its pretty good. It has its fair share of flaws, but it has a lot of the same humour and heart as the original did, which people may still find enjoyable. Set roughly 5 years on, all the main cast are the same, with the exception of the boy who plays George/Jahangir Khan’s (Om Puri) youngest son, Sajid. Aqib Khan is pretty decent, better in his comedy then in the dramatic moments, which there were a lot more of then I remember there being in part one. We are introduced to the original Mrs. Khan (Ila Arun) in Pakistan, who has struggled but got on with her life without her husband for 30 years, who suddenly shows up with his troubled son from his other wife. Om Puri’s English was terrible, and though it was intentional, he had been in England for 30 years, living with an English wife, and all his children speak English. Surely it would have improved. It sounded too deliberate, and became quite distracting in serious scenes. The movie is predictable, and yet very sweet. Like I said, if you like East, you’ll like West.