Friday was the last day for us at this year’s Sundance Film festival, so before we get all sentimental and clingy we should probably talk about the movies you should (and one you shouldn’t) keep an eye on when they come out on general or limited release.
Emanuel and the Truth about Fishes has the worst name of any film at this year’s festival. By far. It’s also the worst film we’ve seen this week. By far. Kaya Scodelario plays Emanuel, a moody teenage girl seemingly at odds with the world, who uncovers a sinister secret about her new neighbour that gradually consumes her life. It’s hard to know where to start with this one. The dialogue is appalling, the visuals are empty and overblown, the music is clichéd and the entire thing hangs by such a thin thread that it totally falls apart by the half way point. Quite frankly, it’s a disaster, and you’d do very well to avoid it.
That’s that out the way. Now onto the good stuff. American comedian Mike Birbiglia’s debut film, Sleepwalk With Me, a semi-autobiographical comedy drama about a man trying to kick off a career as a comedian while fighting struggling to save his relationship, is certainly an improvement on the last one. A neurotic, awkward comedy about a man watching as the woman he loves fade out of his life screams Woody Allen, and it’s hard to escape the comparison, but on its own terms Sleepwalk With Me is a very witty, surprisingly dark little movie, and one of the funniest we’ve seen all week.
A.C.O.D., directed by Stu Zicherman and starring Adam Scott, Richard Jenkins, Catherine O’Hara, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clarke Duke and Amy Poehler, stands for Adult Child of Divorce, a title belonging to Carter, a restaurateur who is forced to reconcile his warring parents for the sake of his brother’s wedding. In spite of the amazing cast, nothing about A.C.O.D. only has one or two standout moments, and the rest never seems to take off. It’s indie by numbers, and it really should’ve been a lot better.
Finally, Mud, a film that played in competition at last year’s Cannes film festival, so you kinda know what level of quality we’re dealing with here. Starring Matthew McConaughey as a mysterious fugitive who enlists the help of two young boys to reunite him with his girlfriend, Mud might just be the best film at Sundance so far. Jeff Nichols’ masterful direction is reminiscent of Spielberg in his pomp, the performances are universally brilliant and the story is absolutely riveting from start to finish. A seriously strong way to finish our week at the O2.
See y’all next year!
Words: Matt Mansfield (Follow Matt on Twitter @mattmansfield_)