TIFF 2013: Only Lovers Left Alive, Like Father Like Son, The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears
Going back to TIFF my day was filled with catching up yet again. While everyone was abuzz for Gravity (review coming soon!) and The Double, I was out viewing some leftovers from Cannes earlier this year yet again.
Only Lovers Left Alive
I have to respectfully disagree with my great overlord and editor Dustin on some of his Cannes reviews. Earlier this year, he caught Only Lovers Left Alive and disliked it. While it’s easy to understand why Only Lovers isn’t beloved (it is Jarmusch after all), I was in love with what he was doing here for the most part. Vampires Adam and Eve (Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton) have been together for centuries, but are currently on opposite sides of the world. Adam, a former rockstar, mopes around in his dilapidated Detroit mansion hiding from the public, and Eve spends her time in Tangier with Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt, and yes he is playing that Christopher Marlowe).
Adam’s disdain of humans, or “zombies” as he calls them, begins driving him to the point of suicide, which makes Eve travel by night to meet up with him again. The first hour focuses almost entirely on Adam and Eve lounging around as they listen to old music and discuss the brilliant artists throughout their lives. Jarmusch’s portrayal of immortality as one obsessed with nostalgia and consuming art feels realistic, and I couldn’t help but live vicariously through Adam and Eve. With time removed as a factor in people’s lives, who wouldn’t spend all of their nights absorbing as much as they can about different cultures? Watching Jarmusch, Swinton and Hiddleston go around geeking out over so many things, from antique instruments to awesome soul singles, is a joy to watch.
It’s also nice to see that, after the sombre but gorgeous The Limits of Control, Jarmusch is more playful again. Swinton and Hiddleston deadpan plenty of killer lines, and the addition of Mia Wasikowska as Eve’s problematic sister Ava brings a lot of laughs. The final part of the film, which shifts the narrative back to Tangier, doesn’t work entirely since it puts too much weight on a film that works because of its flighty nature. It’s only a small issue in a truly enjoyable film, and one of Jarmusch’s most entertaining in a while. I recommend sitting back, letting the amazing soundtrack work its magic and wonder about how great it could be to live like the two main characters.
Like Father Like Son
Next up is yet another big disagreement between Dustin and myself. Steven Spielberg and the Cannes jury gave Like Father, Like Son the Jury Prize this year, and despite the endless raves for it (including one from our own site) I personally did not care for it.
Ryota (Fukuyama Masaharu) is a rich architect who, as the saying goes, seemingly has it all. He has a supportive wife, Midori (Ono Machiko), and they have a 6 year old son named Keita. Ryota is hard-working and strict on Keita, who is struggling to get admitted into a prestigious primary school. Everything changes when they get a phone call from the hospital telling them something terrible; their son was switched with another couple’s baby. The DNA tests confirm the mistake, throwing Ryota and Midori into a major crisis. Do they keep Keita, raising him as they already have been for the past 6 years, or switch him with their real son?
Conceptually it’s a fascinating and tough moral debate on nature versus nurture, but Kore-Eda doesn’t explore this issue much. It’s very obvious from the beginning that he sides with love over blood, and for the next 2 hours he simply hammers this point home repeatedly. Some interesting dynamics are introduced into the story, like the class difference between the two families (Keita’s ‘true’ parents are working class but more affectionate towards their children), but the bulk of the film is simply waiting for its characters to reach the same conclusion Kore-Eda has made.
With the film’s central question and debate answered for, there really is no work for the audience left to do. That resulted in me being bored out of my mind for much of Like Father, Like Son. Ryota’s arc would be a fascinating one to watch if it wasn’t so predictable, and the way he’s painted as a villain at times is frustrating. Especially after watching The Past, where the subtleties of the film’s dramatic content are explored in such a thought-provoking way, Like Father, Like Son‘s simplistic handling of such a morally complex situation just looks lazy.
The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears
As I said in my last TIFF update, I was trying to get into The Double. As you can tell by the title, I sadly did not get into the film. I decided to run across town and catch The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears, the newest film from Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani. Cattet/Forzani directed Amer, which I was a big fan of. Theoretically Strange Colour should work just the same, as it uses the overload of style and Giallo influences that made their last film such a treat to watch. That theory proves to be correct for the first 30 or so minutes, as the simple story of a man looking for his missing wife in their labyrinthine apartment building has every stylistic trick in the book thrown at it, but eventually the charm wears off.
It wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for the fact that the film’s ear-piercingly loud soundtrack and attempt at a narrative are so grating that by the hour mark I was ready for the credits. Instead I had another 40 or so minutes to go, and by the finale I found a lot of Strange Colour to be insufferable. The style is still magnificent when it works, and some of the random segments (including a cop’s explanation of how he got a scar on his neck and a woman being haunted by a murderer in her walls) are plenty of fun on their own. It’s just too bad that, as a whole, The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears is torturous.
It’s horror day at TIFF! I start off with Eli Roth and Ti West’s new films, then cap it all off with a midnight screening of Oculus.