Spling reviews The Lost Daughter, The God Committee and The Visit 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 psychological mystery drama, a medical drama and a horror mystery thriller.
Starting off with a film now on Labia Home Screen…
THE LOST DAUGHTER
A woman’s beach vacation takes a dark turn when she begins to confront the troubles of her past.
Writer-Director: Maggie Gyllenhaal
Stars: Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley and Dakota Johnson
– The Lost Daughter is a bold directorial debut for actor Maggie Gyllenhaal, an adaptation of a novel by Elena Ferrante.
– Featuring Colman and Buckley as an older and younger version of the same character, both talents were recognised with Oscar nominations for their strong performances.
– The Lost Daughter delves into the headspace of a woman’s deepest regrets surrounding her children’s upbringing.
– By way of projection onto a mother-daughter relationship she witnesses from the comfort of her resort beach lounger, flashbacks reveal some of the challenges as the past and present transform The Lost Daughter into a hybrid coming-of-age drama hinging on two equally powerful performances.
– Gyllenhaal’s direction enables her to siphon the best from her seasoned ensemble, using close-ups in a refreshing manner whilst cultivating tension and intimacy simultaneously.
– The Lost Daughter starts like a mystery thriller as vague details and uncomfortable social interactions escalate intrigue and suspense.
– Veering into the realm of arthouse, The Lost Daughter operates more according to atmosphere and mood than paint-by-numbers storytelling.
– This alienates the entertainment value and diffuses the linear storytelling to the point of confusion with the feeling that something’s been lost in translation.
– While there is a constant threat for the story to overflow into something sinister, it’s more concerned with its character’s inner turmoil and underlying social commentary over Hitchcockian thrills.
A solid 7 on the splingometer!
Moving on to a film now on Showmax…
THE GOD COMMITTEE
An organ transplant committee has one hour to decide which of three patients deserves a life-saving heart.
Writer-Director: Austin Stark
Stars: Kelsey Grammer, Julia Stiles and Janeane Garofalo
– The God Committee is based on the play by Mark St. Germain.
– Centring on organ donors, transplants and patients on the waiting list, this timely drama deals with doctors at the hospital who are entrusted with deciding who is most deserving of life-saving surgery.
– A modest production, this medical drama is buoyed by solid casting and the presence of a committed Grammer, Stiles and Garofalo who reach in substantial roles.
– Grammer is well-suited to his character as an egotistical doctor who is married to his career and trying to ensure his legacy before it’s too late.
– The drama pivots from the committee meeting room, moving backwards and forwards by seven years to peel back the consequences of their life-altering decisions.
– The God Committee explores human themes around seeing patients through the lens of life expectancy, playing God when it comes to the organ designation and the temptation to twist the truth.
– Driven by its self-assured lead performances and fascinating moral dilemmas, The God Committee has substance and weight, carried forth by a competent and passionate filmmaker in Stark.
– A respectable drama, it’s mostly limited by its budgetary constraints and one too many contrivances, elevated above its TV quality mostly thanks to its lofty and thought-provoking human themes.
A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer!
And finally a horror mystery thriller on Showmax…
Two siblings become increasingly frightened by their grandparents’ disturbing behavior while visiting them on vacation.
Writer-Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Stars: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould and Deanna Dunagan
– The Visit is a return to form for The Sixth Sense director, M. Night Shyamalan, a horror mystery thriller made on a shoestring budget that demonstrates his flair in the wake of found footage horrors such as The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity.
– Taken from the perspective of children instead of adults, the young filmmakers decide to document a week-long visit to their grandparents to unearth the reason behind their mother’s estrangement.
– Besides Kathryn Hahn, The Visit hinges on a relatively unknown cast, something that helps to ingrain the documentary realism of their long overdue expedition.
– Not wanting to disturb mom’s much-needed cruise, the siblings try to write off the strange happenings with the help of pop-pop’s wisdom and generous excuses.
– Creepy, unsettling and laden with classic horror element reinventions, The Visit treads an ambiguous line along with its charming young co-leads.
– The equivalent of a horror funhouse ride, Shyamalan offers a fine balance of comedy and drama when it comes to its playful sense of filmmaking and entertainment value.
– Limiting visual effects to an absolute minimum, it’s refreshing to watch a horror that still manages to create suspense without resorting to jump scares and subpar CGI.
– Capturing some of the awkward horror comedy magic behind low-budget indie found footage horrors like Creep starring Mark Duplass, The Visit thrives on particularly charming and effective performances from Oxenbould and Dunagan.
– The Visit’s not for everyone, but is a surprisingly entertaining, satisfying and see-sawing misadventure composed of thrills and laughs.
It did just enough to get… a solid 7 on the splingometer!
So just to wrap up…
THE LOST DAUGHTER… strong performances, swirling intrigue, inspired direction and powerful themes soften this tense drama’s run time and choppy storytelling… A solid 7!
THE GOD COMMITTEE… sharp co-leads, a game cast and timeless themes drive this somewhat contrived adaptation of a stage play… A satisfactory 6!
THE VISIT… engaging performances, smart genre play and resourceful filmmaking captivate in this creepy and fun found footage horror mystery thriller comedy… A solid 7!
For more movie reviews and previous Talking Movies podcasts visit splingmovies.com.
And remember, Don’t WING it, SPL!NG it!