TIFF ’13 – Day 3: Women in Change

Young and Beautiful. No argument here.
Young and Beautiful. No argument here.

Even though TIFF is one of the most accommodating film festivals around, there are unavoidable dramas, such as having the entire press corps attempting to see one show (in this particular case, Gravity) and failing at it for the most part. Add to that doing a pointless queue for tickets to Metallica Through the Never and mistaken hotels (who knew there were two Intercontinentals in Toronto?) and you have wasted the entire morning. Well, it wasn’t a complete loss as I interviewed the protagonists of Blue Is the Warmest Color, Lea Seydoux and Adele Exarchopoulos. Adele is prim and proper and Lea is rock n’ roll.

But enough about pretty French actresses. Or maybe not.

Young and Beautiful (France, 2013): Next to Blue Is the Warmest Color, the latest film of Francois Ozon is almost tame (almost being the key word). Young and Beautiful is the dispassionate chronicle of a 17-year-old’s descent into prostitution just for the sake of it. Unimpressed with her first sexual encounter, Isabelle (stunning newcomer Marine Vacht) decides to give the oldest profession a try. Isabelle’s reckless behavior is as inscrutable as her motives, besides distancing herself from her mother.

Francois Ozon, who has an eye for nubile and talented actresses (see Ludivine Sagnier in Swimming Pool), constructs a drama without major set pieces or lessons to be learned. It’s like he is telling us the kids are alright and don’t need to respond for their actions. You can’t grow without experimenting. Whether you disagree or not, Ozon is one consistent filmmaker and today’s youth biggest fan. Three prairie dogs without curfew.

Labor Day (USA, 2013): Jason Reitman latest film is far lower key than all his previous efforts (like the smart-alecky Juno or Young Adult). In fact, there is little to laugh about in the story of a mother (Kate Winslet) and her son who unwillingly take in an escaped convict (Josh Brolin). The woman, divorced and two shades shy of agoraphobic, lusts for human touch. It doesn’t take long –hours really- for her to admit the charming jailbird in her bed. Credit Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin for making this story remotely believable, although this magic prisoner on the run -who can cook, dance, clean and has time to play baseball with Winslet’s neglected son- seems straight from a paperback romance. Three prairie dogs, tough on the outside, but cuddly on the inside (once you overlook the prison tattoos).

All Cheerleaders Die (USA, 2013): The latest film of Lucky McKee is as misogynistic as ever, only this time, he lacks an idea to support his mistreatment of women. Following the gruesome death of the head cheerleader, her squad pals find themselves adrift and under the growing influence of an outsider. The setup doesn’t matter one lick, as the true horror begins when the sociopathic football team captain kills them all by pushing their car down a ravine. But wait, another outcast –a wiccan- sees it all and brings the girls back to life by using ancient crystals (groan). If you can believe it, the movie gets even more stupid from there. McKee’s ineptitude to develop a story is only matched by his truly disturbing fascination with sexual abuse and demonization of women (see May, The Woods). One… give me a P! give me a D! Prairie dog! Yay!

Sidenotes:

* While asking Lea Seydoux about how difficult was to promote a movie with a director she recently described as exploitative, I was abruptly interrupted by the translator. Lea, cool as a cucumber, quipped “what do you think.” Now I feel bad I was mean to her in my review of Farewell My Queen.

Tomorrow: I’ll try to catch Gravity again.

Author: Jorge Ignacio Castillo

Journalist, film critic, documentary filmmaker, and sometimes nice guy. Member of the Vancouver Film Critics Circle. Like horror flicks, long walks on the beach and candlelight dinners. Allergic to cats.