Film festivals aren’t all about eating popcorn in the dark with a room full of strangers – there’s plenty of cultural enlightenment to be had too. Wonderland takes a look at the seven films that have critics buzzing at this year’s BFI London Film Festival.
(1) Celeste and Jesse Forever
Rashida Jones of Parks & Recreation and Saturday Night Live regular Andy Samberg star as a young married couple going through a divorce – but a couple that just so happens to live in the same house. Still. Co-written by Jones, the film is filled with intelligent, witty dialogue, complete with cringeworthy scenes familiar to anybody who’s ever been in a relationship that just won’t die.
(2) Everybody has a Plan
A Spanish-language identity thriller with Lord of the Rings actor Viggo Mortensen pulling double duty as identical twin brothers. Agustin feels trapped in his marriage and suddenly announces to his wife that he wants nothing more to do with their plans to adopt. Soon after, his twin Pedro turns up, and tells him that he is terminally ill with cancer. Realising that they’re each unhappy in their respective lives, they devise a plan to swap identities – but Agustin unintentionally becomes embroiled in Pedro’s criminal world. A riveting, modern take on the film noir genre.
(3) Great Expectations
Does anyone do ‘slightly unhinged’ better than Helena Bonham Carter? As Miss Havisham in the latest film adaptation of Dickens’ Great Expectations, the actress leads a cast of fine British acting talent, many of whom have are no stranger to the Harry Potter franchise themselves. Jeremy Irons stars as Pip, the orphan boy who receives a large sum of money from an anonymous benefactor and moves to London to live as a gentleman.
(4) Ginger & Rosa
Inseparable BFFs Ginger and Rosa were born on the same day and at 17, are tumbling towards adulthood in drizzly 1960s London. Ginger (Elle Fanning) turns political activist while Rosa (newcomer Alice Englert) gets involved with Ginger’s father. A cast of accomplished, familiar faces (Christina Hendricks, Annette Bening) guide the girls through their tumultuous time of self-discovery. Watch out for a star turn by the young Fanning, who gamely adopts an English accent.
Winner of this year’s Palm d’Or award, Amour is a riveting, intimate portrayal of unconditional affection and heartfelt warmth that had Cannes audiences sobbing into their Riveria sleeves. Georges (Trintignant) does his best to support his wife Anne (Riva) when she suffers a stroke that leaves her partly paralysed and speechless, clinging onto a love that is fast deteriorating with Anne’s health. Bring tissues.
(6) Seven Psychopaths
In Martin McDonagh’s follow up to the hilariously profane In Bruges, the director re-enlists Colin Farrell to play screenwriter Marty, who accidentally gets entangled in an LA dognapping crime ring, led by his best friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) and Hans (Christopher Walken). Expect expletive-laden hijinks from razor-sharp writer McDonagh – and if that isn’t enough to convince you, Tom Waits makes a surprise cameo (but we’re not giving you any hints on this one).
(7) The Hunt
Set in a close-knit community in Denmark, Mads Mikkelsen stars in his Cannes award-winning portrayal of a kindergarten teacher falsely accused of abusing children. As the lie spreads, everyone turns on Lucas in 21st century Crucible-style hysteria. Mikkelsen’s superbly nuanced performance shows that he’s more than just your regular Bond villain.
For more information about films and showtimes, visit www.bfi.org.uk/lff.
Words: Ellen Falconer