TIFF 2012: Festival Reflection and Wrap-up

Attending TIFF this year was far and away a, if not THE high point in my twenty-four years here on this earth. I got the chance to see a total of eleven films, a majority of which were above average save for a couple of colossal disappointments. As if viewing that much in a mere three-day span wasn’t enough, I got the chance to rub shoulders with the likes of Gemma Arterton, Noah Baumbach, Derek Cianfrance, Colin Farrell, Greta Gerwig, Olga Kurylenko, Rachel McAdams, Ewan McGregor, Saoirse Ronan… the list goes on. Spending all this time in the company of some fellow cinephiles I finally got the chance to meet in person, the entire experience was nothing short of surreal. Longing to be back in Toronto no more than hours after I’d returned home, I can’t wait to sate my festival appetite next month at the 21st annual Philadelphia Film Festival, just to wait impatiently afterward until next year’s circuit begins. So, without any further adieu, I present to you my final three blurbs about those films I hadn’t gotten the chance to write about at length. Enjoy!

Everybody Has a Plan (Ana Piterbarg, ARG/ESP/GER)

A nondescript tale of mistaken identity, first-time filmmaker Ana Piterbarg is off to a decent start, however she needs a lesson in cohesiveness and focal maintenance before tackling her sophomore effort. Focusing on Viggo Mortensen’s dual role as twin brothers Agustin and Pedro, the tale throws the former into the midst of the Winter’s Bone-esque Argentinian underworld – one hidden behind the thick-wooded facade of the seemingly idyllic Le Tigre Delta region – after he assumes the identity of deceased identical counterpart. What ensues is something not of intrigue, but of prolonged boredom as characters appear and reappear out of thin air for the sake of causing conflict, not once bringing anything substantial to the table as said individuals’ motives are as transparent as can be. Wrapping things up in a hail of unwarranted gore, Everybody Has a Plan can’t hold a candle to similar, pseudo-neo-noirish efforts thanks to the aforementioned lack of poise and involvement on behalf of us viewers.

Something in the Air (Après mai) (Olivier Assayas, FRA)

The third of three relative disappointments during my second day at TIFF, Olivier Assayas’ latest is something of questionable significance, wallowing in an interminable amount of inconsequentiality as its central protagonist drifts almost aimlessly through his college and post-collegiate years. Supposedly a semi-autobiographical account of Assayas’ transformation from destructive left-wing youth to amateur filmmaker, it’s a shame that the tale itself doesn’t pack much of an emotional wallop, instead opting for a rather routine series of events strung together in chronological order without harboring much significance to an Assayas newbie such as myself.

Like Someone in Love (Abbas Kiarostami, FRA/JPN)

As an elegant meditation on the importance of simple companionship, people were collectively thrown off by Kiarostami’s adherence to a more straightforward narrative trajectory – something 2010’s Certified Copy didn’t sport wholeheartedly. As the relationship between a call girl and scholarly professor blooms, details are shed pertaining to how each of their lives has played out, paving the way toward an awkwardly comfortable series of exchanges that result in one hell of a final act. I personally wasn’t taken with a bulk of the proceedings, but Kiarostami’s confident hand behind the camera lends itself wonderfully to the simply poetic nature of the story at Like Someone in Love‘s core.

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