Spling reviews All the Bright Places, The Sun is Also a Star and The Meyerowitz Stories as broadcast on Talking Movies, Fine Music Radio. Listen to podcast.
Good morning – welcome to Talking Movies, I’m Spling…
This week, we’re talking about three coming-of-age films: a romance drama, a romance comedy drama and an offbeat comedy drama.
Starting off with a film now streaming on Netflix…
ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES
The story of Violet and Theodore, who meet and change each other’s lives forever. As they struggle with the emotional and physical scars of their past, they discover that even the smallest places and moments can mean something.
Director: Brett Haley
Stars: Elle Fanning, Justice Smith and Alexandra Shipp
– All the Bright Places is a coming-of-age romance drama about finding your purpose in life, recovering from grief and celebrating your many capacities
– this young love melodrama centres on a girl learning to cope again and the oddball boy who befriends her
– starting slowly, we discover a budding romance as the classmates complete a project involving visiting places across Indiana
– sharing their newfound romance on a road trip of sorts the two grow closer as secrets come to light
– Smith is a charming and likeable character, surprisingly no relation to Will Smith, starring opposite Fanning who has developed a solid reputation
– dealing with mental difficulties, All the Bright Places isn’t without struggle and challenges attempting to capture the experience based on the book by Jennifer Niven
– the soundtrack is upbeat and uplifting as this modern love story gathers momentum
– following in the tradition of many teen tearjerkers, it still manages to remain fresh quoting Virginia Woolf and making an equally dazzling photographic expedition for the Instagram generation
– engaging performances, a whirlwind romance and tackling some of the tough issues it wears its heart on its sleeve and while the dramatic genre shift almost derails the film, manages to hold strong and remain thoughtful
A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer
Moving on to a film now on Showmax…
THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR
A hopeless romantic ambivalent about his future in medical school falls for a hard-luck young woman who doesn’t believe in love.
Director: Ry Russo-Young
Stars: Yara Shahidi, Anais Lee and Charles Melton
– Set in New York, this modern romance drama is refreshing for a number of reasons
– grappling with immigration issues, however simple, it’s quite timely offering the story of a Jamaican girl trying to hold onto the dream of staying in America after nine years
– the casting is unconventional, as the romance plays out between actors of Jamaican and South Korean ethnicity
– coming from the place of a fascination with astronomy, the star-crossed lovers cliché is ever-present without becoming too cheesy and the solar flares actually make sense
– the film cleverly supplants documentary style cutaways to catch us up to speed and add depth
– while unknown, the charming co-leads do a great job of bringing their characters to life, enjoying some easy-going chemistry
– one sticking to hard social science and the other driven by the full spectrum of emotion when it comes to love, it’s a curious clash of minds and cultures
– while fresh and visually-compelling against the iconic New York skyline, it has similarities with Serendipity and Before Sunrise as a couple spend a day falling in and out of love
– The Sun is also a Star has charm and heart, offering a sweet, sentimental and touching tale of love and fate
– the love story may stretch the bounds of believability operating in a microcosm of magic realism, but is enjoyable, thoughtful and lovable enough to recommend to hopeless romantics
A solid 7 on the splingometer!
And finally another movie now on Netflix…
THE MEYORWITZ STORIES (NEW AND SELECTED)
An estranged family gathers together in New York City for an event celebrating the artistic work of their father.
Writer-Director: Noah Baumbach
Stars: Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller and Dustin Hoffman
– Noah Baumbach has a reputation for delivering off-the-cuff, funny and honest commentaries on relationships, especially in New York
– The Meyerwitz Stories centres on a father and his adult offspring, allowing them to engage with him as he considers retirement from a career in the arts
– featuring a stellar ensemble, Baumbach is able to capture the best from his actors most notably his stars in Hoffman, Stiller and Sandler
– both regarded as funny angry actors, it’s quite fun to see Sandler and Stiller face-off in slightly more serious roles in this coming-of-age comedy drama
– Baumbach is known for trying to capture the spontaneity of everyday conversations, offering nuanced subtext and hilarious barbs in the process
– while somewhat dysfunctional, there’s plenty of heart and spirit in this film about kids trying to come to terms with their feelings around their father
– served as a series of vignettes, we get a greater understanding of each of the siblings, their affectations and their interpersonal dynamics
– quirky, funny and bold, it’s powered by fantastic comedy actors who relish great writing and sensitive direction
– cutting scenes short, playing up their father’s quirks and embracing offbeat comedy in all its forms, this is an entertaining, funny and well-acted New York comedy drama
– there are some infrequent experimental student films that may offend, but for the most part it’s fairly breezy and surprisingly touching when it comes to family dysfunction and full-circle realisations
A solid 7 on the splingometer
So just to wrap up…
ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES… a charming, spirited and sleek teen romance drama tearjerker that struggles to balance genre play… A satisfactory 6!
THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR… lovable co-leads elevate this giddy, refreshing, sentimental, stylish, timely and thoughtful New York romance drama… A solid 7!
THE MEYEROWITZ STORIES (NEW AND SELECTED)… solid performances impassion a smart, funny and off-the-cuff script about a dysfunctional New York family… A solid 7!
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And remember, Don’t WING it, SPL!NG it!