Here’s part two of the EIFF 2019 round-up. Featuring a modern take on the silent film that deserved far more attention outside of its native Spain, a good romance, a bad romance, and some pleasant young Kiwi men kicking seven bells out of each other.
Pablo Berger/ Spain Belgium France/ 2012/ 104 mins
Largely ignored here, but an awards-gobbling machine in Spain, Blancanieves is a neo-silent film that’s more satisfying than the obvious comparison point The Artist. Berger merges the Snow White myth with Spanish traditions to create a lush and spellbinding modern fairy tale. Maribel Verdu is a gloriously evil stepmother and Macarena García has the perfect limpid doe eyes for a melodramatic heroine. The stunning cinematography and heady atmosphere give a sense of the sheer magic of early narrative film.
With a small caveat, Bludgeon is one of the delights of the festival. This affectionate documentary follows a group of medieval combat enthusiasts on their quest to represent their country at the World Championships in Denmark. The film feels like Taiki Waititi directing Best in Show with its charming and quirky subjects. There’s humour, pathos and sheer brutality when it gets down to the business of fighting. It does come perilously close to making the people at its centre the butt of the joke though, with their Spinal Tap-esque shenanigans. It does manage to just about tip the balance towards laughing with them and few films have caused more hilarity at EIFF.
Michael Tyburski/ USA/ 2019/ 87 mins
A gentle romance sweetly played at the lowest key, The Sound of Silence is distinctly odd and very charming. Peter Sarsgaard gives a contained, quietly excellent performance as a ‘house tuner’, someone who can locate and fix the imperceptible frequencies that can cause sleepless nights, anxiety and depression. Rashida Jones is a client who knocks him off his own delicate equilibrium. The sound design is exceptional as you would expect, but Tyburski too often resorts to visual cliches (untucked shirt, tousled hair) as a shorthand for inner turmoil. Still, this is a lovely little film with the nice, delicate romance at its centre.
Sasha Collington/ UK/ 2019/ 95 mins
With a wide range of very good romantic comedies at this year’s festival it makes a bad one even more glaringly obvious. Love Type D sees 27-year-old Frankie (Maeve Dermody) track down old boyfriends in order to dump them. The reason why she can’t let sleeping dogs lie? They finished with her, and she’s trying to reverse the effects of a loser-in-love gene. The premise simply doesn’t work on a logical level and too often the plot is carried by the nerdy little brother of one of Frankie’s exes, leaving her a passenger in her own story. Once a ludicrous supernatural section was introduced it was time to check out. Sorry Love Type D; it’s not me, it’s you.