Wonderland.

SUNDANCE LONDON PREVIEWS: DAY 3 AND 4

The voice actors of In A World tickle our fancy, while Steve Coogan doesn’t quite pull off his Sundance London debut with The Look Of Love.

The Look of Love at Sundance London

Robert Redford was at the O2 today, but sadly we didn’t see him. We did see the chair he was sitting in for a press conference, though, and there were plenty of other chairs he may have sat in, too, so that’s something. Anyway, enough bragging. We’re here to talk about movies.

Kicking things off was Barbara Kopple’s Running From Crazy, a documentary about the troubling history of mental illness afflicting actress Mariel (granddaughter of Ernest) Hemingway’s family, and the ways in which she has learned to deal with the pain it has caused her. Although it feels a little false at times, and doesn’t offer much insight into the nature of depression (nor does it claim to, as many naysayers have said), Running From Crazy is a moving and personal portrait of one of the most well known families in America. Don’t let the presence of Oprah Winfrey’s name in the credits put you off.

Significantly less well known is the family at the heart of Metro Manila, a twisty cops’n’robbers action drama from the Philippines about a poverty stricken farmer, his wife and their two young daughters who travel from the countryside to find work in the city. There’s not a huge amount to say about Metro Manila, really. It looks good, and it’s entertaining enough to never be boring, but it’s far too by-the-numbers to make much of a lasting impression. As a movie, it’s perfectly fine, but it’s not something we’re in a hurry to see again. Metro Vanilla, amirite?

The same can be said for Michael Winterbottom’s The Look of Love (above), his biopic of notorious adult entertainment baron Paul Raymond. Steve Coogan and Imogen Poots are both brilliant as the father and daughter at the head of an empire, but we got the impression that Winterbottom and screenwriter Matt Greenhalgh had bitten off more than they could chew with this story. It looks great, sounds great and is well acted, but it all feels a little inconsequential.

Finally we have In A World…, a film that pits voice over artists against each other in a battle for a job as “voice of the trailers” for a huge new film series. Director, writer and star Lake Bell plays woman in a man’s world Carol, the daughter of voiceover legend Sam Sotto and rival to new kid in the block Gustav, neither of whom like the idea of a woman stealing their limelight. So far, so Will Ferrell sports comedy, right? Not exactly. By bolstering this fairly simple story with strong subplots about family crises and personal relationships, In A World… becomes a romantic, funny and (as overused as this word is this week) charming comedy drama with a surprisingly moving finale. Really good stuff.

Words: Matt Mansfield (Follow Matt on Twitter @mattmansfield_)

SUNDANCE LONDON PREVIEWS: DAY 3 AND 4

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