For Your Consideration: 2011 Drama

No rating
by S. James Wegg
Publish Date: January 17, 2012
Three relationship-driven films

Ceremony
Max Winkler, 2011
Three and one-half-stars

The Saddest Boy in the World

Probably everyone can identify with Sam Davis (Michael Angarano does a great job playing the puppy face, vertically challenged hero). You’ve never gotten over a certain someone, to the point of quiet obsession—in this instance: Zoe, who has an ideal advocate in Uma Thurman. Since misery always loves company, a patch-up-the-friendship expedition with a best bud will, hopefully, provide some believable cover for a chance meeting just a few days before your old flame’s marriage to an—outwardly—overachiever. In the former, Reece Thompson readily devours the role of Marshall—nearly stealing every scene he’s in—while Lee Pace as the marvellously named Whit (no “half” or “dim” he) blends together just the right amount of over-the-top ego that award-winning actors have and the inner knowledge that he’s done better than he deserves snaring the belle of Sam’s previous ball.

With nuptials in the works, the set is filled with whacky relatives (notably Jake Johnson, Zoe’s brother and everyone’s favourite souse), friends and staff who, in director/writer Max Winkler’s hands, keep the screen alive with their various comings and goings while the children’s book writer tries to rekindle the lost romance and passion. Zoe’s heartfelt declaration “I can’t be your mermaid,” succinctly sums up the entire situation, but you’ll have to see the film to discover if she’s speaking literally or figuratively. JWR


The bare bliss of adultery

 

Happy Happy (Sykt lykkelig)
Anne Sewitsky
2011, 85 min.
Three stars

Singing for a different choir

From director Anne Sewitsky (along with wordsmiths Mette Bøstad and Ragnhild Tronvoll) comes the 2011 Norwegian version of Brokeback Mountain (cross-reference below). Two couples (Kaja—Agnes Kittelsen/Eirik—Joachim Rafaelsen; Elisabeth—Maibritt Saerens/Sigve—Henrik Rafaelsen) conveniently (for the plot) live just a stone’s throw away near a small village where singing in the choir is both a northern climes’ pastime and wonderful metaphor. To complete the familial setting there are two young boys: dad-adoring, mother-tolerating Theodor (Oskar Hernæs Brandsø) and adopted Ethiopian Noa (Ram Shihab Ebedy). The interaction of the pair of precious kids centres on playing “slave.” Given the inglorious past, the ha-ha effect, “aren’t they cute?” falls totally flat. What were they [artistic trust] thinking?

At one with this season’s epidemic of masturbation unmasked (Shame, We Need to Talk About Kevincross-references below) one more is added to the register: at least it’s a female on this outing.

As the film moves forward (progresses being a bit too generous), it’s readily apparent that Eirik’s hunting trips aren’t for antler-sporting caribou or reindeer but two-legged “chaps” of the decidedly leather persuasion. The intent is fine and a few scenes (notably the choir’s rehearsals and curious performance of “Amazing Grace”) can’t hold a candle to Lee Ang’s masterpiece.

Still, every time someone in the audience is moved to a revelation of his/her own once discovering that there is life after coming out, one of Sewitsky’s goals will be accomplished. JWR


The scenery trumps the plot

Blackthorn
Mateo Gil
2011, 98 min.
Three stars

Still a hard act to follow

The apparent resurrection of Butch Cassidy (Sam Shephard having the vaquero time of his life) had much promise in the trailer and publicist’s description. But after teaming up with “colleague” (always honour amongst thieves, right?) Eduardo Apodaca (played gamely by—careful of the reference: most certainly not Manuel, although their characters have some similarities—Eduardo Noriega) and perpetually leading on the sultry Yana (Magaly Solier), the film falls into a covey of set pieces that—finally—leave everyone mourning more for the animals than the humans: relationships here of an indifferent kind.

Nice try, but with such a magnificent achievement long ago, few will savour the “next chapter.” JWR

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