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London Film Festival Blog: Day Two

In what seems to be a non-stop foray around the capital, day two arrives with three films to engulf myself in and then diligently report back to my avid Impact readership.  And what an interesting line-up I had ahead of me; a feature from a renowned British actor making his directorial debut, a Nick Hornby penned musing on the coming of age and education, then to round things off the latest winner of the coveted Palme d’Or. Said films were the David Morrissey’s Don’t Worry About Me, the soon to be released An Education and Michael Haneke’s acclaimed The White Ribbon (Das weisse Band). Again if you are interested in visiting the festival to view one of the following films or any of the other highlights of this years festival then visit www.bfi.org.uk/lff or ring 020 7928 3232.

Don’t Worry About Me

For those of you aware of David Morrissey then you’ll be well aware of his superb acting credentials, both on the big and small screen. For his directorial feature I was almost more interested in assessing his directorial talent than the quality of the film itself. His offering is a low key affair which traces the crossed paths of southerner David (James Brough) and scouser Tina (Helen Elizabeth) over the course of a day in Liverpool. David finds himself stranded up north after an ill-fated one night stand and a stolen wallet, using his last cash on a bet to win his fair back home he meets a local girl Tina, compelling him to stay for a bit longer.

Morrissey crafts a beautiful and sombre portrait of his home town, showcasing some raw talent behind the lens. However, proceedings are constantly held back by inadequacies in the screenplay – which was penned by the stars Brough and Elizabeth alongside Morrissey. The pair spew out confessions and revelations to each other, as if the script were constructed merely from their character profiles with one scene (albeit in which Elizabeth shines) actually taking place in a confession booth. Your enjoyment of the film will ultimately hang by how much sympathy you retain for David. If – as in my case – it dissipates quickly then Tina’s actions too seem gradually more and more bemusing.

(Future Screenings: Sat 24th 18:30 – Vue Leicester Square, Mon 26th 14:00 – NFT1 BFI Southbank, Thurs 29th 19:00 – Studio BFI Southbank)

An Education

With High Fidelity being one of my favourite films, anything that comes along with Nick Hornby’s name attached comes with great anticipation. Directed by Lone Scherfig, An Education takes place in a 1961 Twickenham stuck in between the starkness of the fifties and the swinging sixties. Similarly it’s protagonist Jenny (the astounding newcomer Carey Mulligan) is in flux, torn between the prospect of a proper University education at Oxford or experiencing a ‘real’ life offered to her by older man David (Peter Sarsgaard). Essentially a meditation on the values of an academic or emotional educational during the teenage rites of passage.

Mulligan is superb as the lynchpin of the film, encapsulating all the confidence, naivety and affability that the role requires. Given her success is astonishing that there are so many scene-stealing performances from the supporting cast; Alfred Molina’s well-intentioned but gullable father and Rosamund Pike’s dumb-as-nuts socialite spring to mind. Sarsgaard’s seducer meanwhile is crafted tightly, his performance ensures that although you’re sure his ominous courtship of 16 year-old Jenny is destined for disaster, that his intentions could just be honourable. Barely putting a foot wrong, An Education is a must-see, especially for us students who will easily identify with the seductions and dilemmas facing the teen.

(Future Screenings: Thurs 22nd 13:00 – Vue Leicester Square)

The White Ribbon

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke won the top prize in Cannes for the first time in his illustrious career this year for his black and white, German language piece The White Ribbon. It’s a thoroughly broad and interesting film to digest, one which upon viewing at times is far from enjoyable but haunts you hours after peeling your stare from the cinema screen. Taking place during a number of months in a small German village, culminating on the eve of the first world war, Haneke explores the lives of a number of the villagers during a period in which a number of ominous events occur.

After the doctor is injured, crops destroyed,children are kidnapped and abused and a death in the mill the tale we are presented with two mysteries: ‘whodunnit?’ and what does it all mean. Both are inevitably left unanswered and we are left to ponder whether it is important to find out who committed the atrocities, or whether harrowing occurrences within the families of the villagers effectively create the problems themselves. It’s a tough ask at 145 minutes going in cold on a first viewing, but trust me it’s a grower and will leave you tempted to go back for more.

(Future Screenings: Wed 21st 19:00 – Curzon Mayfair, Thurs 22nd 12:30 – Vue Leicester Square)

Joe Cunningham

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