We already have a couple of entries going on films screening in the 10th anniversary edition of Venice Days: Yuval Adler’s Bethlehem and Bruce LaBruce’s Gerontophilia. Here, we’ll be making note of critical reaction to other titles.
And we begin with Lee Marshall in Screen on The Good Life: “First-time director Jean Denizot delivers a nuanced, emotionally authentic coming of age story in this tale of a pair of brothers who go into hiding with their dad following a custody battle. Mixing some of the child-of-nature adventure spirit of Mark Twain’s literary classic Huckleberry Finn (which is referenced) with the lesson of Noel Baumbach’s semi-autobiographical film The Squid and the Whale—that sons sometimes have to learn to outgrow the emotional immaturity of their fathers—The Good Life (La Belle Vie) is grounded by its sympathy for its young protagonists, and by the incendiary performance of 17 year-old Zacharie Chasseriaud in the main role.”
For Variety‘s Justin Chang, “the film’s understated approach too often hints at a simple lack of clarity or purpose.” More from David Rooney in the Hollywood Reporter (“low on dramatic juice and character shading”) and Vittoria Scarpa at Cineuropa.
“Having a baby is no picnic in Alienation, the stark debut feature of Bulgarian director Milko Lazarov,” writes Boyd van Hoeij in the Hollywood Reporter. “Set entirely in the rural frontier area between Greece and Bulgaria, this austere story of a Greek man who wants to buy a baby across the border is told with such torpor and in such an indirect fashion that it often plays like a parody of an arthouse film.”
Variety‘s Jay Weissberg: “Attractively, at times surprisingly lensed using Super 16 anamorphic and a minimalist aesthetic, the pic occasionally plays like an alternate version of 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days but without the punch, never connecting with characters whose hardness, aside from the woman about to deliver, resists penetration.”
Cineuropa talks with Palestinian American director Cherien Dabis about May In the Summer:
From Vittoria Scarpa‘s backgrounder on Nobody’s Home: “A mother who spends her days in front of television. Two teenagers, one an attention seeker and the other rebelling. An older daughter carrying the weight of responsibility on her shoulders. The story Turkish director Deniz Akçay tells is one of a dysfunctional family.”
“Though occasionally Akcay’s screenplay either skirts facile Freudian territory,” writes Boyd van Hoeij in the Hollywood Reporter, “the tone is generally quite straightforwardly dramatic, with the naturalistic acting and modest but solid production values moving the proceedings further away from TV-style melodrama.”
“The lead singer of an all-girl punk rock band from Morocco says yes to a drug run in order to finance a studio booking in Traitors, the fiercely energetic debut feature of U.S. filmmaker Sean Gullette,” writes Boyd van Hoeij in the Hollywood Reporter. “A rare genre film from the Maghreb that centers on a female universe, Traitors benefits immensely from a spikey lead turn from newcomer Chaimae Ben Acha, whose innate charisma helps paper over the film’s at times overly familiar plot twists.”
Update, 9/9: “I won’t go into plot detail,” writes Ashley Clarke for Filmmaker, “but a jacknife tonal shift jerks the film into ill-advised thriller territory, with plot contrivances, coincidences and unbelievable character decisions piling up by the minute. Traitors’ strongly feminist credo comes through loud and clear, and is to be lauded, but this worthiness can’t make up for the disappointment of a film which badly loses the run of itself after such a promising start.”
“La mia classe is a strange thing,” writes Vittoria Scarpa, “an unusual experiment, born as a piece of fiction. But during shooting, reality took over and the director [Daniele Gaglianone] ended up wanting to show that.”
“A father’s slow-dawning despair over his helplessness in the wake of his son’s disappearance is movingly handled in Richie Mehta’s engrossing, multi-layered Siddharth,” writes Jay Weissberg in Variety. “As with his debut, Amal, the Canadian-born Mehta proves that diasporan directors can make profound films about the subcontinent without too much pandering to Western tastes, playing with Indian tropes while incorporating indie aesthetics.”