LFF 2018: Some our picks of this year’s BFI London Film Festival

17th October 2018

Here at Candid Magazine we've had the awfully gruelling task of attending countless screenings throughout the week for BFI London Film Festival, at various cinemas in Central London. As well as reviews, we'll be updating you over the coming days with film's that have piqued our interest…
Austrian indie Joy tells the story of titular Joy (Anwulika Alphonsus), originally from Nigeria, immigrates illegally to Austria and for that privilege she is kept practically a hostage to her Madame until she repays her debt through prostitution, as well as pay for her daughter’s carer and send money back to her family. With limited options for a supposedly better life in the Viennese underworld, Joy successfully pays off her way to freedom, but only for things to come crushing down. Director Sudabeh Mortezai presents a bleak but also a vivid picture of Joy and the women in the brothel, in a matter-of-fact and unemotional story telling. The film is never explicitly graphic, yet it doesn’t shy away from the harshness of Joy's circumstances, showing us frequent instances of physical violence and rape. Alphonsus under plays Joy and doing so successfully gives a truly authentic performance; a sombre and subdued demeanour, innately street savvy and in a perpetual state of survival mode.

I found myself consumed by this Danish suspense thriller, with its thoroughly gripping twists and turns which aggressively reel you in. However, the film does follow, or even copy, a revisited stylistic theme. Taking place within the parameters of a police call-centre room, it rests solely on the delivery of Jakob Cedergren and voices on the other line, are the secondary charcaters which help drive the narrative. Cedergren plays the downbeat police office Asger Holm who becomes obsessed with a call that becomes fatal and as events unfolds they start to mirror his own life troubles. It brings to mind the much superior effort Locke starring Tom Hardy and simultaneously the inferior The Call with Halle Berry. There’s a clever twist towards the end and in retrospect perhaps its aesthetic over-familiarity is not such bad thing, if it works!

The longest queue ever for 8am press screening. Opening the LFF, I was perhaps initially put off by the trailer, hinting at a rather generic heist movie. This is not to say Widows doesn't follow a particular formula, however McQueen’s signature grittiness, flawed characters and lacking in any sugar coating, giving the whole thing a certain edge. Despite its female protagonist leads, a misogynistic streak still permeates through with obvious stereotypes depicted. Viola Davis is expectedly brilliant as the arch mother figure, her usual down trodden demeanour with an unyielding inner strength is omnipresent, but its Daniel Kaluuya’s exceptional performance as the ruthless emotionless killer that is most noteworthy whose ending is befittingly cruel.

Highly anticipated young adult drama, primarily for Timothee Chalamet’s exceedingly good performance as a young Nic Sheff, who to the dismay of his overly protective father David (Steve Carrell), descends into crystal meth oblivion; turning from grade A student to roaming the streets in search of the next hit. Nic and David find themselves in an never-ending cycle, from addiction to sobriety and back again. With the aid of continuous loops of flashbacks from the past and future, this adds to their emotional baggage accumulating causing their relationship to reach breaking point. At points, when it becomes unbearably sad, its unavoidably cliché but its totally saved from the authentic deliveries of both its lead. The music and the San Francisco scenery make for a gorgeous backdrop.

The BFI London Film Festival runs from the 10-21 October, 2018.
Words by Daniel Theophanous @danny_theo_.
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