BFI London Film Festival 2017 - UPDATE #8
Directed by Alexander Payne
USA/135 MINUTES/HEADLINE GALAS
Featuring a world in which shrinking technology has become ubiquitous, and in which whole communities of shrunk-down people exist, Downsizing
is easily Alexander Payne's weakest film -- which is especially confounding since it sees him reunited with long-time writing partner Jim Taylor. It actually starts out really well; Matt Damon is great in the main role, and the film has a really fun sense of energy. But at a certain point the energy starts draining from the film like air out of a balloon; the heavy-handed environmental message gets more and more pronounced, and the very long 135 minute running time increasingly becomes an issue. It's too bad, because the first half is actually pretty great -- the extent to which the film ultimately peters out is actually kind of stunning.
You Were Never Really Here
Directed by Lynne Ramsay
UK/USA/FRANCE/95 MINUTES/HEADLINE GALAS
Based on the premise alone -- about a take-no-prisoners muscle-for-hire whose latest job involves rescuing a kidnapped young girl -- you might think you know what type of movie you're getting with You Were Never Really Here. The word "taken" might come to mind. But director Lynne Ramsay clearly has no interest in making that movie, eschewing traditional action beats at every opportunity to instead make a an odd character study about a deeply disturbed man. It's an interesting film which, in attempting to put us in the main character's mindset, is often unnerving and discordant. It sometimes feels a little bit too arty for its own good, though the main issue here is Joaquin Phoenix's misguided performance. Phoenix is a great actor who can be electrifying, but his work here is subdued to the point of non-existence; he mumbles his way through the film, and looks to be constantly on the verge of falling asleep.
About a group of resistance fighters in Japan-occupied Hong Kong during World War II, Our Time Will Come
seems like it should be a lot more interesting than it actually is. But none of the characters are particularly memorable, and Ann Hui's competent but styleless direction doesn't do the film any favours. There's an odd lack of energy here which makes the film feel surprisingly lifeless, and makes the 130 minute running time feel much, much longer than it actually is. Our Time Will Come
just feels like it's never really sure what type of film it wants to be -- the characters are too bland for it to work as a drama, the action is too infrequent for it to work as a thriller, and the scope is too limited for it to work as an epic (despite the unnecessarily epic length).