Tiff 2023: Dispatch Part 1


Directed by Edoardo Gabbriellini

Runtime 102 Mins

Cast against the picturesque hospitality of a seaside town in Italy, the likes of which spark jealousy when peered through an Instagram story, a scandal concerning a hotel manager, her lover, and her daughter takes hold of the public. Taking place both in the days leading up to the event in question and the days preceding the daughter Veronica’s (Margerhita Corradi) acquittal and release from prison, Holiday is in part a halfcocked meditation on the trial of public opinion and the stickiness of scandals permeated online. While anchored by Corradi’s understated performance wading through the broken pieces of a life interrupted, Edoardo Gabbriellini’s film meanders awkwardly around a dodgy structure of interspersed flashbacks and digressions. While cinematographer Amine Messadi draws out the natural beauty of the summer Italian seaside through drifting shots of the landscape, the film mounts tensions, keeping the audience in the dark over the specifics of the crime. Sadlythe wandering  Holiday only leads itself to an anticlimax when its two juggled timelines finally converge.

Evil Does Not Exist 

Directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi 

Runtime 106 Minutes 

In Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s latest, an economy of aesthetic means belie a burning indignation and a vibrant human soul. Set in the small agrarian village of Harasawa, which isthreatened by the encroaching development of an industry for “glamorous camping,” Evil Does Not Exist paints an engrossing portrait of a community attempting to preserve its precariously reciprocal relationship with the environment against capitalist interests. Through Hamaguchi’s naturalistic dialogue and formal patience to let the natural beauty of the snowy forestry of the location breathe through long deliberate takes, Evil Does Not Exist may be his slowest film, but it is politically his angriest. A cast of subtly performed characters who seem ripped straight from this setting, including  an enchantingly monosyllabic performance by Hitoshi Omika as a grieving single parent living off the land, round out one of Hamaguchi’s best films.

Boy Kills World

Directed by Moritz Mohr

Runtime 111 mins

Based on the short film of the same name, Moritz Mohr’s Boy Kills World is a brash and bloody martial arts comedy with next to no substance and a sense of humor carved out from the scraps of “lol random” inanity that infested the 2010s. With a script that consists of a running commentary of detached irony and sarcastic quips supplied by the inner monologue of Bill Skarsgård, the film is a classic martial arts revenge plot hampered by its insufferable sense of humor and one-dimensional characters. While some fight choreography is inventive and kinetic, the fascist government standing in for the antagonist that the titular “Boy” plots against is ill defined, farcical and controlled by a cabal of villains (Famke Janssen, Brett Gelman, Sharlto Copley, Michelle Dockery) who act as walking punchlines. Much of the atrocious gamer tone it strives for could be forgiven of the action carried out to a visceral end, but every gory highlight and physical feat is accompanied by Skarsgård’s childish “well that just happened” inner monologue that robs all impact from the spectacle.

Together 99

Directed by Lukas Moodyson 

Runtime 115 Mins

A legacy sequel that only pushes its characters into darker places than when they picked them back up, Lukas Moodyson’s revisiting of his breakout 2000 film Together is a striking follow-up that crassly resists the status as a sequel to deliver a sobering yet hysterical cringe comedy. Picking up years after the first film, Together 99 sees the commune of the first film dwindle down into its core members, Göran and Klasse (Guataf Hammarsten and Shanti Roney), who are still living together, less due to their socialist ideals and more because they have nowhere else to go. Feeling their arrangement on the verge of crumbling, they invite all the old members who have left for a surprise get-together, and immediately the awkward tension is deliciously palpable. Exacerbated by Ellinor Hallin’s hand-held cinematography, which invades the space the characters dread sharing with each other, the film is delightfully uncomfortable as it unfurls over the course of one disastrous party. Voyeuristic and darkly comedic, Moodyson produces an unexpected gem by returning to where he started.

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