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‘All Of Us Strangers’

I went to see this film starring Andrew Scott, Paul Mescal, Claire Foy and Jamie Bell as the latest outing in my cinema project. It was directed by Andrew Haigh. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from it, but found myself blown away.

At heart, this is a carefully crafted film about the nature of our relationship with our parents. Foy and Bell play the parents of the protagonist, Scott, who were killed when he was twelve years old. In the course of the film, Scott is able to travel to see his parents and talk to them again, frozen at the age they were when they died. Because we don’t really know how this is happening, it is unclear whether Scott is interacting with his parents as they really were, or whether he is seeing his own perception of them—plus his hopes and fears of their judgements of his later life—reflected back at him.

This sounds like a terribly complicated plot, but it isn’t really: it is brushed over, and the focus is almost entirely on the emotions of the relationships. In that sense, the film reminded me a lot of opera. We’re left not worrying about how the characters reached any given point in the plot, but left just to contemplate the emotions of the moments.

And there is a real emotional heft in this film: I felt a bit like I’d been hit by a truck when it ended, and I’ve never heard so many people weeping in a cinema auditorium. Never before have I sat in a screen where no-one—absolutely no-one—moved a muscle when the credits appeared; there was just stunned silence until the house lights came back up.

All of the acting was brilliant in this film, coupled with some brilliant cinematography and a desperately evocative soundtrack. There is nothing I’d change. It was a perfect package and an absolutely remarkable film. I’d highly recommend it.

This post was filed under: Film, , , , , .

I’ve watched ‘Aftersun’

This recently Oscar-nominated film by Charlotte Wells has been on my ‘to watch’ list for a while, after I saw a trailer at the cinema. It follows a depressed 30-year-old on holiday in Turkey with his 11-year-old daughter, from whose mother he has separated. It is set some time in the 1990s, I think, with camcorder footage spliced into the film at times.

Later, it is revealed that the film is from the perspective of the daughter after she has grown up. She is looking back at her memories of her dad as she reaches the age that he was on this holiday. We’re left to ponder whether her memories are accurate.

It is a very personal film, one where not much happens, but the power is in the (mostly unexpressed, mostly repressed) emotions of the piece. Paul Mescal and Frankie Corio give astonishingly natural performances throughout. Wells also plays with the cinematography in ways that underline and support the unspoken emotions: some sequences are bright and dreamlike, others have characters sometimes seen only at the edges of frames.

And yet… for whatever ineffable reason, whether to do with the film, or the conditions in which I watched it, or my mood at the time, or some combination of things… it didn’t emotionally reel me in. I felt like I was watching a film, not like I was involved in the characters’ lives. It felt a bit consciously clever to me, at a remove from the viewer.

I wasn’t quite as taken with this film as were many of the professional reviewers, but I still enjoyed it.

This post was filed under: Film, Post-a-day 2023, , , .

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