I ended up seeing a lot less films than I was expecting, due to an unexpected work experience that came up. However, I still managed to squeeze in three fils during the four-day run of this line-up and I still want to share my thoughts on them.
Here are the reviews for the films that showed between days 6 and 9 of the Glasgow Film Festival.
Truman & Tennessee
Director: Lisa Immordino Vreeland
Starring: Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto
Synopsis: The work, lives and personal journeys of two iconic American artists coalesce with creative combustion in this innovative dual-portrait documentary.
The film focuses on letters and notes that Truman and Tennessee wrote to each other, suggesting a potential romantic relationship forming between them. The documentary does not shy away from the gay narrative that forms, and that is clear even by the casting choice of the voices of both Truman and Tennessee. Jim Parsons and Zachary Quinto both give solid voice performances here reading these notes and letters, but it is also their own identities as gay men that help this message come across in the film.
A lot of the documentary is dependent on the voice over narration by Parsons and Quinto. Despite how strong that is, it does leave little to imagine in terms of the visuals. If anything, this is a story that would work better in book form, something where you could either see the letters printed on page or to have an audio version and simply listen to the stories. The visual component felt like it was a last-minute thought, which made it harder to connect with our two men and their story.
This is a relatively short film, only clocking in at 86 minutes. However, the film still manages to drag by the end. Having such a focus on the relationship between Truman and Tennessee and not fleshing out much else really does not help the pacing. This would have been a great chance to talk about their greatest achievements, show the impact of their work and how the relationship impacted it, and yet it all felt private and far away from any other aspect of their lives. There could have been a big statement within the film, but something just felt missing throughout.
Director: Ben Sharrock
Writer: Ben Sharrock
Starring: Amir El-Masry, Vikash Bhai, Kenneth Collard
Synopsis: Omar is a promising young musician. Separated from his Syrian family, he is stuck on a remote Scottish island awaiting the fate of his asylum request.
Having missed the chance to see this film at London Film Festival, I was glad to be given another chance to check this one out. The film is led by a wonderful performance from Amir El-Masry as the story tackles the issues of the treatment of refugees in the UK. The subject matter is handled with grace and maturity as it so deserves.
When the film puts the relationship between our leading character Omar (played by El-Masry) and his father, that is when the film is at its best. The message is loud and clear, the relationship is established and there is a narrative for the film to follow. I still struggle with the thought that the rest of the film does not work as well in terms of the structure or getting a good balance of tone.
This film has some tough messages but tries to balance it with some humour which I am not sure lands. It instead disrupts the pacing of the film as the relationship between Omar and the shopkeeper for example does not work. Not only that, but I really did not like the scenes taking place at the refugee classes that Omar has to take. Despite that though, there is still plenty to enjoy and El-Masry’s performance alone is worth a recommendation.
Director: Jeanette Nordahl
Writers: Ingebord Topsøe, Jeanette Nordahl
Starring: Sandra Guldberg Kampp, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Joachim Fjelstrup
Synopsis: Ida moves in with her aunt and cousins after the tragic death of her mother in a car accident. The home is filled with love, but outside of the home, the family leads a violent and criminal life.
Gripping you from the opening moments, this story is one that is impactful. With the heavy but necessary exposition at the start, showing the tragic car accident and giving Ida this weight on her shoulder, it is easy to connect with her and feel her pain as she is forced to move in with her aunt and her cousins. The leading performance from Sandra Guldberg Kampp as Ida is heart-breaking to watch, as her performance is raw and authentic yet filled with darkness and pain.
The cousins in the film can come across as stereotypes at times, but I still found myself engaging with them and having an emotional connection to several of them. Some of the storylines that runs through the cousins is shocking, but there is commentary about the current climate and how those deemed lower in society are portrayed. I do wish the film made even more of a statement on this, but I love that these ideas are being communicated regardless.
Clocking in at just under 90 minutes, this is a film that I actually would have liked a little longer for. If the film added another storyline that was potentially lighter, the darker moments might have made more of an impact and the film would have been easier to watch. Even with all of the positive aspects of the film and how important the main story is, it would have been more gripping if I was given some time to process the narrative, given time to connect with all of the family and particularly Ida.