The lack of a collective sense of discovery is particularly pungent given the fact that there are treasures in the program that the crowd would have in good faith had there been a crowd to please. The most important of them is Limbo, the second feature film by writer-director Ben Sharrock. Set in the Outer Hebrides, shot in a palette of purgatorial grays and waterlogged earth tones, the film brings something of Elia Suleiman’s ironic and ironic humor to this story of asylum seekers, stranded in bureaucracy and stranded on an island while they wait for decisions on their cases. It’s a marvel of tonal dexterity, balancing moments of warmth and humor against bursts of heartbreaking sadness. In a normal year, this might have prompted group hugs after the screening in the Scotiabank Theater. Traditionally, UK audiences more averse to cuddling can see the film as part of the London Film Festival schedule next month.
Screening in the London program is also Wolfwalkers, a fantastic animated fantasy set in 17th century Ireland and created by the team behind The secret of Kells and Song of the sea. The distinctive animation style, which combines an angularity that evokes the sparse and stylized animals of illustrator Charley Harper with a saturating touch of Celtic mystery, will be familiar to fans of the two previous films. The central theme, which explores the collision between the delicately balanced natural world and the pervasive threat of humanity, drew comparisons to Studio Ghibli’s Princess Mononoke. It is a remarkable work: inventive, agile and animated by the surging wild joy of its protagonists-girl-wolves.
London Film Festival bettors will also get to see another of Tiff’s most anticipated films: a vintage lesbian romance that takes place on the misty beaches of Lyme Regis, Ammonite is the follow-up to God’s country by Francis Lee. It places Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan (both excellent) in the kind of steamy but unspoken sexual dynamic that will be familiar to fans of his first feature film. The film has divided opinion, with some critics put off by the gloomy dampness of the British seabed and others delighted by the unconventional – and confrontational – portrayal of Victorian female sexuality.
Relationships take all shapes and forms at Tiff, but few are as chaotic as those of Chloe (Denise Gough) and Mickey (Sebastian Stan) in Argyris Papadimitropoulos’s. Monday. I loved this dark comedy shrapnel-explosion, which the director describes as “a romcom gone bad” – and how! There are moments so mortifying it hurts to watch (a drugged naked moped ride through Athens is a real trick to hand through the fingers), but for all the abrasive humor, there is a kernel of truth. uncomfortable hiding in this anti-romance.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is the charming and provisional courtship at the heart of the formidable Palestinian dramatic comedy. Gaza My Love, by twin brothers Arab and Tarzan Nasser. 60-year-old fisherman Issa (Salim Dau) is secretly in love with the widow Siham (Hiam Abbass), but it was not until he pulled a very priapic statue of Apollo into his net from the sea that Issa take the courage to talk to him.
Family relationships provide rich material: I particularly appreciated Concrete cowboy, in which Idris Elba plays the role of a member of a veritable community of African-American “urban cowboys” who smash and ride the streets of North Philadelphia. David Oyelowo’s directorial debut, Water man, is a fantastic family adventure reminiscent of 1980s classics such as Support me. And Cathy Brady Fires, a story of sisters set in an Irish border town, is superb: energetic, uncomfortable, and extremely intelligent.
And while it might not be the scorecard we’re used to, Tiff isn’t without the Oscars buzz. One night in Miami, the first feature film directed by Regina King, imagines an evening where true friends Cassius Clay, Jim Brown, Sam Cooke and Malcolm X reunite. King’s deft handling injects energy and spirit. urgency in what could have been a verbose ego collision; that seems to me to be a pretender.
Best of Toronto
Best feature films Limbo (directed by Ben Sharrock), Wolfwalkers (Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart), Monday (Argyris Papadimitropoulos).
Best Documentary Enemies of the state, 76 days.
Better performance Nora-Jane Noone and the late Nika McGuigan, Fires; Amir El-Masry, Limbo; Shai Avivi, Here we are; Kingsley Ben-Adir, One night in Miami.
Discover the festival Cathy Brady, Director of Fires.
The most resistant hair Chloë Grace Moretz, who remains impeccably styled even after swinging from under the wing of a flying plane and battling a clawed demon in the utterly ridiculous but undeniably entertaining Shadow isn the cloud.
Best horse Huer, Concrete cowboy.
The sharpest political allegory Taiwanese parliament invaded by zombies Get out of here; pain inherited from disorders in Fires.
Most anxiety-provoking moment for germaphobes Kate Winslet pees on the beach, wipes her hands on her skirt and then breaks a dough in half for Saoirse Ronan in Ammonite.