Hard to believe, but the 1973 bank heist which inspired the term Stockholm Syndrome, in many ways was a two-bit affair and so over the top that the new film, Stockholm, by Canadian director Robert Budreau, had to leave out certain aspects of it because they were too incredible. Budreau was in attendance last night for the film’s screening at the Gasparilla International Film Festival (GIFF) here in Tampa, Fla. Budreau also directed 2015’s Born to Be Blue about jazz trumpeter Chet Baker. Both films star Ethan Hawke. In Stockholm, Hawke plays Lars Nystrom, the crazed bank robber, wearing a wig, cowboy hat and big map of Texas on the back of his jacket, who waves a submachine gun over startled bank customers and employees. Quickly he expels most of them but keeps a few tellers hostage. A siege ensues as the befuddled Stockholm police surround the building. Of course, we know that the hostages (kind of) bonded with their captors. The film is good enough, I suppose, and Hawke – a personal favorite – gives a sufficiently exciting performance as the zany psychotic robber. But, apparently true to actual events, the movie seems so off the wall – almost a mockumentary - that it took away my breath, and, uh, my judgment. I still can’t believe this incident occurred the way it did. Okay, I’ll give the film two-and-a-half out of four stars.
The other film I caught at the festival yesterday (part of the Tampa Bay Jewish Film Festival component) was Mexico’s Leona, directed by Isaac Cherem. Ariela (Naian González Norvind) is a young mural artist who lives in a cloistered Jewish neighborhood in Mexico City. She meets a non-Jew, Ivan (Christian Vazquez), falls in love and they move in together. But she fears telling her family about the relationship. Sure enough she’s ostracized and her family tries to set her up with nice Jewish men, with whom she has little in common. The film evokes well the tyranny of family and the intolerance that can be part of any religious, racial or cultural group. Norvind plays her role effortlessly as an independently minded young woman trying to weave herself through society’s norms.
The Gasparilla International Film Festival (GIFF), combined with the Tampa Bay Jewish Film Festival, continues until Sunday.