Spling reviews Promising Young Woman, The Rest of Us and The Mole Agent 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 a dark comedy thriller, a coming-of-age drama and a comedy documentary.
Starting off with a film on Labia Home Screen…
PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN
A young woman, traumatized by a tragic event in her past, seeks out vengeance against those who crossed her path.
Writer-Director: Emerald Fennell
Stars: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham and Alison Brie
– Promising Young Woman trailblazed its way through awards season, winning Best Original Screenplay and picking up nominations for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress at the Academy Awards.
– It’s a healthy reminder of just how good Carey Mulligan is… often taking on quieter, more nuanced roles, Mulligan sinks into her characters so much that you often lose perspective on her actual performance.
– Promising Young Woman gives her a chance to really flaunt her range as medical school drop out Cassie, going blonde and wielding the sex appeal of her character as an avenging angel, luring men into compromising situations after they prey on her seemingly vulnerable state.
– Roll Red Roll documented a small town’s attempt to diffuse serious rape allegations and an associated investigation in the “fog” of sexual violence, which could have served as a prequel or inspiration to Promising Young Woman.
– Fennell has unleashed a timely film, picking up on today’s attempt to deconstruct long held beliefs, toxic behaviour and twisted truths – a serious wake up call to hapless bystanders.
– It’s a strange brew of quirky comedy, dark comedy, charming romance and a thriller you could describe as The Girl with the Unicorn Tattoo.
– Taking kitsch décor design elements to accentuate her parent’s arrested development, the production design is alive with meaning, taking a few pages from The Shining even.
– The soundtrack is just as affected, eclectic enough to warrant a throwback to Juice Newton’s Angel of the Morning, testament to Fennell’s bold choices, which pay off more often than not.
– Wickedly funny, subversive and full of twists, it’s this fearless spirit that drives the multi-genre thriller.
An excellent 8 on the splingometer!
Moving on to a film currently on Showmax…
THE REST OF US
Two mother-daughter duos must contend with their grief and complicated relationships when the person who connects them dies.
Director: Aisling Chin-Yee
Stars: Heather Graham, Sophie Nélisse and Abigail Pniowsky
– Heather Graham has undeniable star quality, having built a career on her trademark big blue eyes and classic leading lady looks.
– Unfortunately, you’re only as good as your last film and this has tarnished Graham’s name with a string of subpar films over the years.
– The Rest of Us signals a change of direction for the star.
– Often forced to fend for herself, she’s ably supported by up-and-coming starlet, Sophie Nélisse, in this female-led coming-of-age ensemble drama about grief and coping.
– A modest independent drama, it moves quickly enough that you don’t get a chance to over-analyse, using its upbeat pacing and beautiful cast to tell a more authentic, relatable story about modern relationships and unconventional family units.
– Giving each of the characters their own arc, enough screen time to navigate their inner lives and built around a brave new world following the death of a central father figure, it’s a thoughtful and engaging drama.
– Good performances, intuitive writing and a timely exploration of forgiveness, The Rest of Us has enough substance, wit and charm to overpower its flaws.
– It’s stellar ensemble elevate the film and its artful temperament keep it visually-appealing further enhanced by an upbeat edit.
– While a solid entry for Graham, who deserves more complex characters, it’s still somewhat restrained by its lightness of touch and gentle sway.
A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer!
And finally a documentary screening at the Encounters festival…
THE MOLE AGENT
A private investigator in Chile hires someone to work as a mole at a retirement home where a client of his suspects the caretakers of elder abuse.
Writer-Director: Maite Alberdi
– A strange documentary concept, it serves as an investigative exploration, taken from the perspective of an earnest undercover agent.
– Hired to blend in to serve as an inside man, retrieving information relating to the treatment of one resident, it becomes a heartfelt examination of old age, mortality, loneliness and the importance of family.
– A widower, the stealthy mole tries to keep to himself but becomes increasingly popular with all the single ladies thanks to his attentiveness, smart dress sense and autonomous spirit.
– Sincere and sentimental, he struggles to master new technology such as spy cam glasses and secret codes in making delivery reports to his handler.
– Writing down events in his daily journal, the espionage agenda transforms into a journey portrait of grieving as the agent commemorates his late wife, finding friendship and meaning in his quest.
– Escaping the all-too-familiar routine of going to the mall or watching the birds, this expedition rejuvenates the elderly gentleman, able to offer comfort to the lonely and realising that when it comes down to it, love is all that matters.
– The concept of filming at the retirement home and housing a secret mission is a bit unwieldy when it seems that everyone’s in on the joke.
– However, in spite of this… the documentary filmmakers manage to gather some amazing to priceless footage of conversations and real moments making it heartfelt and touching.
– While a little slow, this is an amusing and sentimental documentary giving focus to retirement homes and serving as a timely reminder to kindle the special relationships in our lives.
A solid 7 on the splingometer!
So just to wrap up…
PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN… a stylish, wickedly funny, timely and well-acted dark comedy romance thriller in the key of unicorn… An excellent 8!
THE REST OF US… a gentle, thoughtful, entertaining and brisk coming-of-age ensemble drama about forgiveness and family… A satisfactory 6!
THE MOLE AGENT… an amusing spy comedy documentary concept transforms into a touching meditation on mortality, friendship, family and love… A solid 7!
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