Arianne’s TIFF21 Round-Up

Like every time I go to a Festival, I end up watching so much that I just can’t write about all of them. Some I loved, others I didn’t really care for and yet, still have things to say. Just not enough for a full review of. This is what this round-up is about, a way for me to put some thoughts for films that have left an impact on me, good or bad. 

With TIFF now over, here are some of the films I have seen and needed to write a little something about. 

(This list is in alphabetical order.)

Dear Evan Hansen (Dir. Stephen Chbosky)

I have seen the stage version of Dear Evan Hansen, and while I do have problems with it, the music always brought me back to it. The thing is, this adaptation just doesn’t do anything to make me want to revisit it in the future. Sure, we can laugh at 30 years old Ben Platt playing a teenager when it is clear he is too old, but the problem is that Dear Evan Hansen the movie fixes nothing of the problems of the stage musical and instead create new ones. 

Is it totally unwatchable? No. Is it the most meh movie of the year? Probably. Sure, you will get emotional at times but by the end, you find yourself with a film that is just very basic, bringing nothing really to the screen and instead makes you angry at how the subject matter was handle.

You can read Andres’ review of the film here.

The Eyes of Tammy Faye (Dir. Michael Showalter)

The Eyes of Tammy Faye will bring Jessica Chastain another Oscar Nomination, but truly this is a film that doesn’t know what it wants to be. The inconsistent pace and tone bring it down and even Chastain’s incredible performance just can’t save it. It tries to be too many things at once, trying to be a comedy, but also never settling into one. At times, it is clear that the film veers into a comedy but then it does a 180 and becomes something else entirely. It tries so hard to be so many things that it simply fails on most parts. If it wasn’t for the performances, this film would simply not work. Chastain is at the top of her game and Andrew Garfield continues to impress, even if at times he feels miscast.

Flee (Dir. Jonas Poher Rasmussen)

I had heard great things about Flee following Sundance and was anticipating watching it, building an expectation that I was so scared I wouldn’t be able to tone down and end up being disappointed while watching the film itself. But the exact opposite happened, Flee broke me into a million pieces and shattered my heart with the story it was telling. Doing a documentary through the medium of animation is something that I hope we see more and the way the medium was used was just so perfectly done. Nothing about Flee feels out of place, the pacing is perfect, the story is extraordinary and the animation style might not be for everyone but it was perfectly suited for this film. It is not only one of the best documentaries or animated films I have had the pleasure to see but one of the best films in general.

The Humans (Dir. Stephen Karam)

The Humans was a film that I totally went into just for Steven Yeuhn and Beanie Feldstein. It sounded interesting but I honestly went into it because of my love for those two. I ended up walking out and finding myself with probably one of my favourite films of the festival. Adapted from the play of the same name, The Humans could have easily fallen into the mistakes that so many play adaptations make and feel exactly like a play and yet, never does so. Using the editing, sound design and score to create such an unsettling ambiance that has you at the edge of your seat the entire time. It’s a film that mixes comedy and horror so well, but never becomes fully one or the other. Sure, the characters are very unlikable, but that doesn’t matter because the story it tells is one that I found fascinating. This film is one that you will not want to miss.

Scarborough (Dir. Rich Williamson and Shasha Nakhai)

Adapted from the novel of the same name, Scarborough is one of those films that just takes you with its heart. There are films that just never hide the emotions, always making you question not only what you are feeling but also educating you in the process. Scarborough might be about a part of Toronto that I don’t know anything about, and yet, I knew exactly what the film was portraying. I grew up in a Scarborough, except in another city, it might not wear the same name, but I knew every single one of those characters. It’s a film that knows exactly what it portrays, a film that understands human nature and the struggle it is trying to showcase. It’s a hard watch, one that had me in tears by the end, but one that I will not forget anytime soon.

Silent Night (Dir. Camille Griffin)

Silent Night is not what you expect. And honestly, that is for the better. What I thought would be a simple cute Christmas comedy ended up being the exact opposite. It’s a film that hides behind the dark humour at first and then when it is all finally revealed, you end up watching a film about choices and existing. Describing it without actually giving anything is almost impossible, but at the same time, the best way to see this film is to go in without any idea of what it is. The tonal and genre shift that happens during the first act is one of the best I have had the chance to see, one that I loved and couldn’t believe. The whole cast is fabulous, but Annabelle Wallis and Roman Griffin Davis steal the show with performances that might seem very one noted but end up being so nuanced and intricate. 

Titane (Dir. Julia Ducournau)

Titane is the wildest film I have seen in a while, a film where so many times I uttered the words “What The Fuck” has things happened on the screen. Writing about this film is hard because the best way to see it is without knowing anything. Going in blind, with only a small knowledge of what it was about, made this experience even better. Julia Ducournau crafts a film that is so wild and yet, has such a heartwarming presence that in the end, you can’t help but be in awe of the masterful film she has presented us with.After winning Palme D’Or at Cannes and winning Midnight Madness at TIFF, Titane is a must-see, stay away from everything that is a spoiler and I guarantee you will walk away having seen one of the best films of the year.

You can read Andres’ review for the film here.