Spling reviews Saint Frances, The Trip and United Apart 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 lo-fi comedy drama, a dark comedy thriller and a lockdown documentary.
Starting off with a film now on Showmax…
After an accidental pregnancy turned abortion, a deadbeat nanny finds an unlikely friendship with a spirited six-year old.
Director: Alex Thompson
Stars: Kelly O’Sullivan, Ramona Edith Williams and Charin Alvarez
– Saint Frances is an offbeat comedy drama that captures the misadventures of a failure-to-launch 34-year-old who accepts a childminding job.
– Taking an honest fly-on-the-wall approach, one gets an intimate look at a woman’s little big triumphs and failures.
– This is Bridget Jones’s Diary and Juno without the Hollywood treatment, taking a comedic look at an au pair’s daily struggles without oversensationalising her reality.
– From awkward romance and relationship difficulties to grappling with challenges around childbirth and postnatal depression, Saint Frances offers a spectrum of deep issues with a lightness of touch.
– Managing to be humourous and thoughtful, the dexterous screenplay bristles with life jumping through hoops of fire with a quirky and playful tone.
– Bolstered by strong performances from an unknown cast, it’s a star-making turn for unassuming writer and lead actor, Kelly O’Sullivan.
– The focus may be on a nanny and her assigned family but Saint Frances offers a full bouquet of entertainment from brutally honest TMI conversations to touching and tender moments.
– Maintaining its breezy disposition, it’s a fun and surprisingly entertaining watch that outperforms its modest budget with an independent spirit.
– Smart writing, offhanded wit and solid performances smooth over its rough edges allowing the comical overshares to endear you to a lost person searching for meaning.
An excellent 8 on the splingometer!
Moving on to a film now on Netflix…
A dysfunctional couple head to a remote cabin to reconnect, but each has intentions to kill the other.
Director: Tommy Wirkola
Stars: Noomi Rapace, Aksel Hennie and Atle Antonsen
– Rapace and Hennie’s most famous roles in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Headhunters respectively, inform the dark, gritty and violent tone of this horror thriller.
– While gruff comedian and actor Antonsen’s casting, give it a darkly comic spin as matters progressively get worse.
– The Trip is definitely not for sensitive viewers, wielding Mr and Mrs Smith whimsy with Funny Games fury and a Tarantino panache for violence.
– This thriller takes on a Tarantinoesque edge as more oddball characters get thrown into the cement mixer.
– Using flashbacks to get us up to speed, the non-linear timeline keeps us guessing as one catalyst disrupts the flow and reinvents the story.
– This is a grisly and ultraviolent film that doesn’t shy away from gruesome retaliation.
– While over-the-top thrills build suspense, carried forth by determined performances and wild cat-and-mouse games… there are a few crass and out-of-place comedic elements that irk.
– It’s a truly visceral experience designed to have you guffaw at the deliciously dark comedy, recoil in disgust at gruesome action only to feel queasy at some of its raw violence.
– Ambitiously trying to sustain its quick pace, numbingly brutal disposition and wickedly dark sense of humour, The Trip doesn’t hold anything back, teasing out exploits that threaten to derail the entertainment factor.
A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer!
And finally a documentary on Showmax…
A documentary about South Africa’s lockdown and the effect it has had on society, the economy and the country’s most vulnerable citizens.
Director: Anton Burggraaf
Features: Prof Glenda Gray, Prof Salim Abdool Karim and Lukanyo Mnyanda
– While there have been a number of fine Covid-19 documentaries such as Totally Under Control and In the Same Breath, none have taken a uniquely South African perspective… until now.
– Relying on key interviews from a distinguished CEO and professor, a renowned epidemiologist and prominent newspaper editors, the documentary weaves a chronological overview of events leading from the Wuhan outbreak to Cyril’s family meetings and the crowd-sourced United Apart campaign.
– This slick and informative documentary uses global visualisations to give an international feel and context, before zooming into South Africa’s response and ensuing lockdown.
– Using self-recorded footage from repatriated citizens to archive news footage, the film offers criticism of the government’s handling of the pandemic – triumphs and failures.
– This is a useful and entertaining overview of the Covid-19 pandemic that provides a good handle of the story up until now.
– Discussing the crisis and its effects within the political context of class, United Apart offers some curious insights whilst celebrating the resilience of South Africans.
– Running at just over an hour, the documentary moves at a good pace, filling in some missing pieces and observations from the hard lockdowns.
– While it covers an expanse of information, much of which may seem like common knowledge, it’s still thought-provoking enough to remain a compelling retrospective.
A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer!
So just to wrap up…
SAINT FRANCES… an awkwardly funny, thoughtfully candid and surprisingly deep coming of age comedy drama with charming performances… an excellent 8!
THE TRIP… a swirling, suspenseful, over-the-top and ultraviolent dark comedy horror thriller with sharp co-leads… A satisfactory 6!
UNITED APART… a concise, slick and competent overview of the Covid-19 pandemic response from a South African perspective… A satisfactory 6!
For more movie reviews, previous Talking Movies podcasts and upcoming Bingeing with Spling watch parties visit splingmovies.com.
And remember, Don’t WING it, SPL!NG it!