Utøya: July 22
How do you recall the events of the Utøya massacre on July 22nd 2011 without creating a piece of exploitation? There’s no doubt the topic deserves appropriate sensitivity, leaving 69 fatally wounded and 66 more injured in a horrific terrorist attack that shook Norway and the rest of the world to the core. Erik Poppe’s depiction of events is fierce and harrowing, following the fictional plight of Kaja as she attempts to locate her sister through the slaughter.
Shot in one single, unbroken take, Utøya: July 22 thrusts the audience into an almost voyeuristic role, adopting a real-time structure to portray the events as they might have happened. Make no mistake: this is a film that plunges you direct into the abject horror of the massacre, one that doesn’t shy away from the macabre reality, making the viewer an unwitting accessory to the unfolding events. Emotionally devastating, Utøya is a powerhouse in empathy that thrives off of Andrea Berntzen’s lead performance, its unsettling cinematography and brutal realism.
“A substitute teacher goes on an unnerving trip into paranoia and obsession in Sébastien Marnier’s School’s Out, a slow-burn chiller about real-world environmental ruin.
Midway through a lesson, a teacher at a prestigious French school steps out of a top-floor window and falls to his death, while six students watch impassively. Pierre Hoffman (Laurent Lafitte), a gay, weed-smoking PhD student is brought in at his replacement, to a frosty reception. Pierre’s attention soon fixes on the group of six – the smartest kids in the class, and resented for it – who seem resistant to his teaching methods. […]”
Read Louis Chilton’s full review here
Lila Avilés’s directorial debut is a tedious scrutiny of the disparity between the affluent and the working class in Mexico City. Gabriel Cartol stars as Eve, an over-worked chambermaid responsible for the maintenance of rooms in one of the city’s most luxurious hotels. Shot entirely within the confines of the Hotel Presidente, The Chambermaid examines the trials and tribulations of Eve as she works towards a promotion that’ll ensure – at least in some part –security for her four year-old son.
The point is made abundantly clear within the first scene: Eve is undeservedly shat upon by the world. The rich guests ignore her or look down at her from a position of privilege whilst she toils to secure a better future. And yet the film plows on, determined to observe every single menial job demanded of her. From cleaning toilets to changing sheets, Avilés shows all in painstaking detail that becomes an excruciating slow watch. There are a few notable beats that hint towards Eve’s personal awakening, but such moments are so underdeveloped they border on logically perplexing. Naturally, all instances of development are later rebuked to further cement the already laboured thematics, once again hinting that the world really is shitty and disproportionately unfair.
Gabriel Cartol’s performance as Eve is the standout feature of The Chambermaid, portrayed with a restrained shyness that hints at a repressed personality under the surface. It’s to both Lila Avilés’ and Gabriel Cartol’s credit that The Chambermaid is capable of inducing such empathy, revelling in the plights of a worker desperate to achieve a better future in the face of overwhelming inequality. There’s a subdued element to the debut that is sure to win over hardened critics, but beyond a few well-mannered themes, The Chambermaid is little more than one of Eve’s monotonous chores.
“If Yorgos Lanthimos set out to make a film about the Trump presidency I don’t imagine it would bear much difference to The Favourite. Olivia Colman plays the Mad Queen Anne as a quixotic infant acting on her every whim, whose petulant comments often bear uncanny resemblance to the President’s Twitter outbursts. Rachel Weisz is Sarah Churchill, her trusted favourite advisor and friend, and Emma Stone is Sarah’s poor and disgraced cousin Abigail who schemes herself into the palace to rival her mistress for the Queen’s favour.
Maybe the most prominent maverick of modern indie cinema, Lanthimos offers a razor-sharp and brutally hilarious take on the period drama, working from Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara’s ingenious script. He grounds it thoroughly in a farcical vein, engineering a series of whip-smart machinations between factions with a good deal of bawdy humour and surreal set-pieces. Some of the biggest laughs came from a slow-motion duck race and a couple of hilarious dance sequences in which Lanthimos pushes the ludicrous tradition of court dancing just that little bit too far, as is his way.”
Read Holly Hooley’s full review here