I missed the middle weekend of CIFF due to a wedding in Sydney, but I was soon back in town for some more CIFF goodness. The week got off to a good start with one of the best films of the year.
CIFF Film Three – AmourDirector – Michael Haneke Starring – Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert Writer – Michael Haneke Year – 2012 Running Time – 94 mins
For me, Amour was one of the best films of the festival and indeed of the year. It is a powerful, beautiful, emotional and at times grueling tale of one man’s love for his wife
I have not seen any of Haneke’s previous work, but from what I can tell Amour is true to form. The depths of the story are immense and the direction, whilst simple, is frankly masterful. We see the world purely through the eyes of the two leads and apart from brief moments, we are confined to their spacious Parisian apartment. Heneke uses this simplicity to great effect, building deep emotional layers that are at times confronting, but always compelling.
The two leads bring a lifetimes worth of experience to the role and there was not a single moment in the entire film that I did not fully believe in their characters and their relationship. A simply stunning achievement of a film, which you simply have to see.
CIFF Film Four – SightseersDirector – Ben Wheatley Starring – Alice Lowe, Steve Oram Writer – Alice Lowe, Steve Oram Year – 2012 Running Time – 95 mins
After the emotion of Amour, I was looking forward to a slightly lighter film with Sightseers. I knew nothing of the plot so didn’t really know what to expect going in. However, what I wasn’t expecting was a pitch-dark comedy about serial killers, the countryside and caravanning.
Alice Lowe and Steve Oram play an unlikely couple who set off on an ‘erotic odyssey’ in the back of a caravan in the heart of the English countryside. However as the wheels start coming off, the odyssey quickly turns into a killing spree with the couple leaving a trail of dead bodies in their rear view mirror.
The small cast are all on murderously good form, with Lowe and Oram playing off each other exceptionally well as a sort of Bonnie and Clyde for the Caravan Club generation. The two have a very odd kind of chemistry and are at their best when interacting with unsuspecting tourists. These exchanges are beautifully socially awkward with perceived slights quickly punished by our dangerous duo.
The other main star has to be Ben Wheatley’s direction. The killing scenes are brutally shot and scored. You see each drop of blood and feel each crunch of bone. In one particular scene you feel like you are with the body the whole way down. Shot against the backdrop of the beauty of the Lake District and filmed mostly using natural light, Wheatley doesn’t present this as a green and pleasant land, instead its pissing down and grey most of the time, a bit like our couples’ mood.
Sightseers is one of the best and most original British comedies of recent times and comes highly recommended. It has also confirmed a long-held suspicion about what caravanners really get up to.