This will be my wrap from Montreal's Festival du nouveau cinema, which ends today.
Danish director Gustav Moller’s The Guilty is an obvious tour de force for actor Jakob Cedergren, who plays Asger Holm, a Copenhagen police dispatcher. The entire film is focused on Holm, as he answers emergency calls. It’s therefore reminiscent of 2013’s Locke by Steven Knight starring Tom Hardy, as the sole subject driving a car on a British motorway yet communicates with disembodied voices via Bluetooth. In The Guilty, the disembodied voices are the alleged crime victims, and one in particular, a woman (Jessica Dinnage) kidnapped in a domestic dispute, and with whom Holm tries to stay in touch and dispatch police units to intercept the vehicle that is taking her to danger. It’s an extraordinarily realistic drama that takes place all in one setting.
Another debut film, Marcelo Martinessi’s The Heiresses, from Paraguay, tells the story of two women friends, middle aged Chela (Ana Brun) and Chiquita (Margarita Irún), both adrift after recent financial losses (Chiquita temporarily ends up in jail) with no men in their lives and human vultures purchasing their treasured assets – furniture and car – to make ends meet. The real focus, however, is on Chela, a shy but open-minded woman, and an artist, who tries to come to terms with her life, conceding it’s not over yet. The performances by little known actors are extremely nuanced and highly believable.
Yet another debut was Martin Skovbjerg Jensen’s Sticks and Stones, a coming of age drama. In the story, Simon (Jonas Bjerril) and his mother move to a small Danish town from Copenhagen and try to come to terms with its provincialism. As the new kid in class he soon meets fellow teenager Bjarke (Vilmer Trier Brøgger). The two form an irreverent team and use a class video assignment to go launch guerilla journalism against the owner of the town’s one local industry that is subject to corporate takeover. Their antics go too far and are denounced by their liberal-minded teacher. And Bjarke, who clearly has some psychological issues, descends into the realm of a Dylan Klebold.
Daisuke Miyazaki’s Tourism (not his directorial debut) isn’t quite the movie I thought it would be given his introduction in person prior to its screening. Yes, it’s about the growing sameness of cities around the world made homogeneous with the same stores, cafes and cultural references. But, really, it’s a human-interest story – a very cute and endearing one at that – about two young naïve Japanese women, Nina and Su (Nina Endo and Sumire), who win a free trip abroad. They decide on Singapore – the first time they’ve travelled beyond home – and find themselves prototypical tourists, trying to hit all the city’s major sites. Drama breaks out, but the film’s spell of innocence and charm never gets lost.