Second collection of reviews on some of the films in Zinemaldia, San Sebastian’s Film Festival! We talked about some amazing (and not so amazing) movies in the previous post, but this time around, it seems all three of them will be more homogeneously great. Let’s begin!
Politics and personal affairs blend in beautifully in The Summit, an Argentinian film starring the always great Ricardo Darín. Directed by Santiago Mitre, it tells the story of Hernán Blanco, president of Argentina, who is participating in a meeting between many South-American state leaders. Difficult decisions will have to be taken in order to solve personal and professional matters…
In Spanish, the title, La Cordillera, refers to La Cordillera de los Andes (Andean Mountains), the setting in which the film is set. It may seem to be a mere detail, but thanks to a great work in direction, and most of all, in cinematography, the snowy mountains turn into a protagonist too. The other protagonist is portrayed, as already stated, by a magnificent Ricardo Darín. He is joined by Erica Rivas, who, as Darín, was a highlight in 2014’s Wild Tales.
It’s hard to talk about script without entering into spoiler territory, as the intricacies are its best feature. However, I will say I liked it quite a lot, as it is witty and intelligent. I have, however, found it slightly too long, as it is quite uneventful at times. This is not a major flaw, but does detract from the overall feeling the movie delivers.
All in all, I would recommend The Summit to those who like the genre, as it will very probably meet your expectations. Nevertheless, it may also be quite lacking for the rest of the audience. It is a joy to see Argentinians continue to experiment with new styles and genres, especially because they prove they know how to make great cinema, every single time. 7/10
See You Up There
I knew nothing about the homonymous book, in which this French production is based, when walking into the theatre. And wow, now I wish I had read the original material before watching this joyful, genuinely amazing picture.
Set in 1918, See You Up There tells the story of two soldiers who have nothing in common but war itself. Survival will take more than just escaping the ruins of WWI, as making enough money to live a prosper life will be just as difficult. Luckily, genius minds think alike, and they’ll soon come up with a clever scam that will endanger their present and future, and maybe even a little bit of the past.
I absolutely loved how drama and comedy beautifully intertwine, as dramatic moments of war and family problems are countered with an excellent comedic script that will bring a smile into the audience’s faces. The film is expertly balanced in that regard, which results in a refreshing experience. Characters are cleverly written, and getting to know them is a joy not at all common in film. They are relatable due to their fragile nature, and their evolution is managed with expertise, noticeable but never overstated.
That great writing is fortunately accompanied by outstanding performances from both protagonists. Nahuel Pérez Biscayart gives a stellar performance in all regards, this has been the first time I’ve watched him in a movie (not the last, though!), and what a pleasant surprise it has been. He simply nails every bit, packed with intricacies that made his over-the-top character believable and lovable. Director Albert Dupontel also joins the cast as the second protagonist, and the result is indeed very good. His character isn’t as rich as that of Nahuel, but the portrayal is right on point.
Speaking of direction, See You Up There makes all the right choices to result in a rich experience, everything from the narrative (which adequately works even if it’s nothing new) to the excellent camera work, which relies on lots of travelling shots that look amazing. The cinematography is stunning, too, and the setting is painstakingly recreated to perfection.
In case you haven’t noticed, I loved watching the film and I’m eager to watch it again when it comes out in theatres later this year. Until then, I have nothing but good memories from it. 9/10
The final picture we’ll cover in today’s post is 120 BPM, another French film that also stars Nahuel Pérez Biscayart! 120 BPM is the average heart rate, but the hearts of the characters of this film surely go faster, as they pour everything they have into fighting for AIDS awareness.
The approach of the film in terms of style is great, as it has a documentary vibe that fits the story told nicely. Lots of handheld cameras create a sense of unpredictability when characters discuss the activist actions they should make. Characters are interesting due to a big effort in writing, which results in a rich watching experience, as the empathy towards the protagonists is absolute.
Casting is pretty good too, with a once again stellar Nahuel Pérez Biscayart. He is accompanied by a pretty extensive cast, such as Arnaud Valois, Adèle Haenel and Antoine Reinartz. They all deliver correct performances with just the right amount of intensity.
It is, however, an excessively long film. At almost two and a half hours, the film repeats itself over and over again at times, which is a shame despite the beauty of the imagery displayed on-screen. I also found the film to be too explicit with the moral of the story, in terms of the script having lines that are very clearly forced. We get it, it’s essential to wear a condom during sex, you’ve conveyed that during the entire runtime, there’s no need to have characters say slogan-like lines in every intimate scene featured in the movie.
Maybe the biggest success of the film is closely related to the title itself, as it will make your heart beat slightly faster thanks to its humanity and empathy. 7/10