30 September 2022.
TRIANGLE OF SADNESS (Sans Filtre) ***1/2
This Palme d’Or winner from Cannes 2022 is a scathing, uproarious denunciation of those who feel entitled in every way, whether it be for their beauty, money, position or know-how. Ruben Östlund, the already crowned Palme-winner at Cannes 2017 for “The Square”, once again lets loose his characteristically sharp and witty observation of society’s hypocrisies.
There is the young and beautiful model and influencer couple on a free ride on this luxurious yacht. There are the wealthy passengers with all their needs and commands, just because they have mega-money which has given them power. There is the below-deck crew, told to be amiable and subservient at all times, and the useless, irresponsible captain of the ship who is mostly drunk, played by Woody Harrelson in a delightfully woozy, bewildered fashion.
The die is cast and their various games of domination and superiority continue until a huge storm hits the ship with sickly/hilarious results (you may want to close your eyes for a while here), and the main characters end up shipwrecked on a deserted island.
This is when the tide turns for the various players, for their positions have now been drastically altered according to their abilities. Here is where Östlund really comes into his own about all our foibles and posturing.
This is stinging satire that forgives no one, including us, the viewers.
LE SIXIÈME ENFANT ***1/2 (vo French)
It’s surprising that young Léopold Legrand could direct such a deep and moving film about two completely different couples who come together because of a mutual child.
One couple is childless, while the other has five children, with another baby (which they cannot afford) on its way. The first couple is well-to-do and both are lawyers, whereas the other couple’s breadwinner has just lost his job and their financial situation is more than bleak. The one thing that these four share is their belief in family, and so they eventually come to a precarious decision for the childless couple to illegally adopt the expected child.
This delicate film which emanates love on all sides slowly turns into a downward spiralling thriller. The four protagonists are absolutely brilliant in their difficult roles, especially Sara Giraudeau (daughter of Bernard) who plays the barren lawyer obsessed with adopting the expected child, despite her husband’s warnings. A touching and beautifully conceived story.
MARIA RÊVE **1/2 (vo French)
Here’s what happens when you put an ordinary cleaning lady into a new environment – an art academy with people of many talents – and allow her to dream.
Maria is a loyal, decent wife, somewhat bored, but not too aware of it. When a new cleaning job opens up, it takes some time to adjust but she begins to slowly see her horizons expanding. There are the young artists with their wild ideas, the friendly co-workers, and an offer to model for the students. And there is the caretaker of the Fine Arts school, a sweet teddy-bear of a man, who takes an interest in her.
With all these new possibilities around her, she feels alive as never before. The always excellent Karin Viard and Gregory Gadebois are enchanting as a couple who are both tempted yet afraid to take a step further. It’s lovely to see Maria dream…
THE ZURICH FILM FESTIVAL
Once again I jumped over the Röstigraben, and it was certainly worth it. That divide is probably the reason why more Suisse Romande journalists do not attend this excellent festival, which in its 18th year is surpassing the older, more established Locarno festival, both in the choice and quality of films and the calibre of its international guests.
This year the attending stars included Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Eddie Redmayne, along with Germany’s Til Schweiger and Iris Berben. Sir Ben Kingsley was scheduled to attend, but came down with Covid. Some were there to give masterclasses, others there to pick up their Golden Eye awards, all creating excitement as they walked across the “Green” Carpet at the central festival tent next to the Zurich Opera in the elegant Bellevue area. Here is the home of the Corso multiplex and two arthouse cinemas – the Paris and the Piccadilly – around the corner from the Stadelhofen train station.
Bellevue is where all the trams crisscross the bustling roads that have myriad restaurants such as the renowned Kronenhalle, the cosy Blockhus, the buzzing vegetarian Tibits, plus the always packed Sternen Grill which serves sizzling bratwursts all day long.
All this next to Lake Zurich with its expansive, flower-decked stretch of promenade and across the bridge towards the grand Baur au Lac Hotel on the way to the Kongresshaus, where many of the festival’s films are also shown.
As for the excellent line-up of international films – of which this festival shows first releases, arthouse films plus top works from other festivals – these were my favorites :
The both moving and uplifting British film, LIVING, with Bill Nighy – about a man who realizes he hasn’t lived until he is told he is dying. The lengthy, sombre, exquisitely shot TCHAIKOVSKY’S WIFE, by the dissident Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov; a brilliant documentary by Heinz Bütler, about ALBERT ANKER, Switzerland’s sublime, underrated painter; and CORSAGE, a well-crafted, intimate portrait of empress Sissi. There were also three excellent Iranian films – NO BEARS, Panahi’s Berlin winner; LEILA’S BROTHERS, a masterpiece from Cannes; and the introspective UNTIL TOMORROW – all very current, showing the difficulties of life under the Mullahs’ regime.
Some highly touted films from other festivals were disappointments : Martin McDonagh’s latest work, THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN, with his favorite actors, Colin Farrell and Brandon Gleeson, was not as good as his “In Bruges” or “Three Billboards…”. ALL THE BEAUTY AND THE BLOODSHED, the documentary about punk photographer Nan Goldin, which won the top award at Venice, was a total let-down and a mystery as to why it ever won. The repetitive ARMAGEDDON TIME with Anthony Hopkins and an unrecognisable Anne Hathaway was also an unfortunate dud. As I could stay only five days, these are the few works I can report on. There were many more offerings through October 2nd.
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Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.