Sundance London – PAST LIVES wins Audience Award
Sundance Film Festival: London’s Audience Award is presented to Past Lives written and directed by Celine Song. The film is produced by David Hinojosa, Pamela Koffler and Christine Vachon, and stars Greta Lee, Teo Yoo and John Magaro. StudioCanal will release the film in UK cinemas from 8 September.
Past Lives follows Nora and Hae Sung, two deeply connected childhood friends, who are wrested apart after Nora’s family emigrates from South Korea. Two decades later, they are reunited in New York for one fateful week as they confront notions of destiny, love, and the choices that make a life, in this heartrending modern romance.
Sundance London 2023 Opening Film Scrapper by Charlotte Regan – Thursday, 6 July
On Your Mettleby Alexa Dalby
CAUTION: Here be spoilers
Georgie (Lola Campbell) is a self-assured, apparently self-sufficient 12-year-old girl, trying to cope with grief at the death of her mother. She continues to live alone in their house, lying to Social Services that she is being looked after, and intent on keeping everything as it was, even the cushions on the sofa. She funds herself with bike theft helped by her best friend Ali (Alin Uzun). Her life is disrupted when her absent 30-year-old slacker father (Harris Dickinson), whom she has never known, suddenly reappears from Ibiza to live with her and won’t go away.
Georgie is a scrapper, a fighter who seems tough enough to beat another girl up: also she has built a scrap metal tower in the spare room, reaching to the ceiling, because her mother told her she was going to the sky.
Cinematography by Molly Manning Walker (Cannes-award-winning How to Have Sex) is pastel coloured, cutting across what could have been the grimness of the subject matter. There are fantasy sequences of alternate realities and revealing pieces to camera by the pink girl gang, the fence who buys the bikes Georgie steals and the social workers.
Scrapper is a heart-warming, funny crowd-pleaser, so no surprise it wowed audiences at US Sundance this year. It’s touching about the father-and-daughter chemistry (brilliantly caught by Campbell and Dickinson – one to watch), learning to get on – realising they are more alike than they thought – and both child and adult growing in maturity. Admirably, there’s no mention of the fact Georgie is deaf and wears a hearing aid. How does the director want people to feel after her film? Happy.
Scrapper premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic and is released on 25 August 2023 in the UK.
Sundance London 2023 Closing Film You Hurt My Feelings by Nicole Holofcener (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) – Sunday, 9 July
Mind Your Mannersby Alexa Dalby
You Hurt My Feelings
CAUTION: Here be spoilers
Beth (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), a creative writer teacher, is devastated when she overhears her psychiatrist husband criticising the draft of her first novel. She had already published a non-fiction memoir. This reaction leads to her questioning why we tell kindly meant white lies and what happens when we tell the truth instead.
You Hurt My Feelings is a comedy of the minutiae of US New York Upper West Side manners. In various relationship contexts, it takes a wry look at what happens if you tell the truth instead of kindly meant lies that make relationships go round.
You might find its obsession with well-heeled angst about First World problems tedious, but other opinions are available. The majority of critics praise it for its comic insights, nuanced acting and crackling dialogue.
Comedian Michaela Watkins is particularly noteworthy as Beth’s younger sister, an interior designer showing a succession of absurd light fittings to a hard-to-please client ((Clara Wong)). She is married to a not-very-successful actor, Arian Moayed. Tobias Menzies is Beth’s husband Don, a self-doubting couples therapist with dissatisfied, arguing clients on opposite ends of the sofa, played by real-life couple Amber Tamblyn and David Cross. Owen Teague is Don and Beth’s son, who disappoints her by working in a cannabis shop: she thinks this is a slacker’s job. Beth’s acerbic mother is Jeanie Berlin.