Friday, 12 October 2012

LFF 2012 Reviewdump #2:
Robot & Frank, Rust And Bone,
My Brother The Devil

Robot & Frank
Low of budget ($2 million) and short of running time (89 minutes), Robot & Frank's very existence is one of those heart-warming, faith-restoring stories which remind you that once a great script is in place, it would take colossal ineptitude to bugger up the resulting film. And Robot & Frank is not at home to Mr Colossal Ineptitude.

Distinctly unflashy for a future-set film about a robot (or "Healthcare Aid"), this is far more interested in ideas than retina-melting visions of things to come. In fact the future here feels considerably familiar, thanks to an undercurrent of nostalgia which sees tomorrow's hipsters getting as superficially misty-eyed over books as today's do over vinyl records. Meanwhile Frank Langella's dementia-stricken ex-con is suffering from a genuine crisis of memory, leading to his reluctant teaming up with the cinematic offspring of 2001's HAL and Moon's GERTY to create the most lovable double act since Christina Hendricks.

The undynamic duo set about doing exactly what they're both programmed to do, and the result is a frequently hilarious but often heartbreaking musing on the fallibility of memory, the role of technology in our lives and the depressing fact that one day we'll all become a terrible burden to our families. But if we all get to hang around with a plastic pal who's fun to be with, then old age might just be worth looking forward to after all.
Fri 12, Sun 14
Rust And Bone
I don't think it's any exaggeration to suggest that Marion Cotillard is probably the loveliest person on Earth. Look at her, all French and gorgeous, like some kind of fancy cheese. Which makes it much easier to be swept along in floods of manly tears by the appalling tragedy which befalls her character in Rust And Bone, Jacques Audiard's follow-up to his vaguely dull but LFF '09-pleasing A Prophet. Unfortunately it's that same loveliness that makes it a little difficult to accept the same character falling for Matthias Schoenaerts' bareknuckle-boxing loser, and gazing in loving awe at him as he repeatedly gets his nose punched all over his face.

Still, an occasional lack of character identification and a slightly aimless plot are small prices to pay for what is a unique, maturely-written relationship drama played out convincingly by its leads and shot with tender grace (and possibly the year's best CGI) by Audiard. Mercifully free of the melodrama with which a Hollywood version would treat Cotillard's fate, Rust And Bone treats its audience with the same dignity as its characters, and is all the better for it.
Sat 13, Sun 14
My Brother The Devil
Neither tediously clichéd nor tectonically groundbreaking, My Brother The Devil is a solid, intelligent drama about east London gang life which never gets dull but equally never quite feels revolutionary.

It seems honest and genuine in its depictions of urban life in the council blocks which lie in the shadow of the Olympic stadium, itself now movie shorthand for expensive wallpaper covering the cracks of David Cameron's Broken Britain, and offers up a sympathetic portrayal of two brothers trying to find their place in a world which mercilessly pushes them towards choices with which neither of them are entirely comfortable.

It's a little too glossy in places, with David Raedeker's cinematography romanticising the hell out of Hackney council estate playgrounds and rooftops a little too often, but writer/director Sally El Hosaini's authentic script is brought to life by impressive leads. Lazy attempt to summarise: It's basically Wild Bill meets Attack The Block without the LOLs or the aliens, but better than that sounds.
Tue 16, Fri 19, Sun 21