In a busy first few days of EIFF 2019, there were loads of films that we didn’t manage to cover in full, but are still worthy of attention.  Among them are some big names, a hell of calling card in the horror genre, and a slightly sickly indie wallow in BIG THEMES.  We’ll be back with a further round-up before the end of the festival.

The Captor 

Robert Budreau/ USA Canada/ 2018/ 92 mins

Ethan Hawke plays a charismatic criminal who holds up a Stockholm bank in 1973.  Conducting a battle of wills with the authorities, he tries to stay one step ahead of the law. At the same time his hostage Noomi Rapace begins to fall for him.  This quirky drama is a fictionalised account of the origin of the phrase ‘Stockholm Syndrome’.  It’s also a light and breezy caper with a keen sense of absurdity and an eye for period detail.  It’s not the finest hour of Hawke or Rapace, but entertains consistently nevertheless.


Ode to Joy

Jason Winer/ USA/ 2017/ 97 mins

Martin Freeman Martin Freeman’s it up in a standard rom-com with a bit of added spice. His character Charlie suffers from Cataplexy, a symptom of narcolepsy in which strong emotions can trigger a collapse.  In the case of Charlie, it’s happiness that’s likely to be the cause of a face-plant.  He then meets the beautiful Francesca (Morena Baccarin) and is studious avoidance of anything joyful is called into question.  Freeman and Baccarin have a surprising amount of chemistry, but the movie is stolen by Melissa Rauch as a less-dynamic potential match for Charlie.  Ode to Joy is generic but full of warmth and there are far worse example of the genre out there.


The Furies

Tony D’Aquino/ Australia/ 2019/ 82 mins

A demented take on the slasher flick crams in themes of control and surveillance into a whirlwind 82 minutes that does stupid in a very smart way.  Six girls are kidnapped and set loose in the middle of a forest where they’re stalked by six men in horrifying masks with a variety of weapons.  The Furies gives as a strong heroine to root for in Airlie Dodds and some truly brilliant practical gore effects.  Ever wanted to see a face slowly peeled off a skull with an axe?  You’ve come to the right place.  It’s a startling feature debut that channels classic 80s nastiness with ideas found in the likes of My Little Eye and Hostel.


Balance, Not Symmetry

Jamie Adams/ UK/ 2019/ 96 mins

Balance, Not Symmetry is an examination of grief and the healing power of art and friendship that succeeds despite its attempts at self-sabotage.  Simon Neil of Biffy Clyro provides and incessant score that stomps over the delicacy at the heart of the story as Scottish-American student Laura Harrier tries to complete her final year at Glasgow College of Art while dealing with the loss of her father.  Our heroine comes across as somewhat solipsistic thanks to the centrality of the god-awful modern art daubings at the film’s core that acts as ersatz profundity.  Thankfully, The Florida Project‘s Bria Vinaite is an unruly tattooed hurricane as her best friend, and the ever-brilliant Kate Dickie is heartbreaking as her mother, whose own grief and loneliness proves a distraction.  In the tension between trying to move on and to be a source of comfort for her mother is where the movie finds its emotional potency.  A flawed but ultimately engaging story.