Tag Archives: drama

Thomas Vinterburg’s Another Round

Alcohol and the culture, customs and traditions surrounding it have permeated society to a saturation point over the years (cinema included), whether we want to admit it or not. I myself am a bit of a self proclaimed lush, and as such I always gravitate towards films that tackle the issue head on, whether the context be cautionary, celebratory, purely unbiased anthropological study or other. Beerfest, Leaving Las Vegas, Flight, Barfly, 28 Days, A Star Is Born. They’re as varied and illuminating as in any sub-genre stable and now we have Thomas Vinterburg’s Another Round, one of the best films of the year and one that manages to do a carefully calibrated dance between comedy and tragedy while showing us the shortcomings, shattered dreams and collective woes of four high school teachers from Denmark, with the focus resting primarily on Mads Mikkelsen’s Martin, an introverted, emotionally stunted man who was perhaps not always this way, but the years have made it so. He and his three buddies decide during a booze soaked night out to follow in the footsteps of an unconventional philosopher who says that any human being will fare better in life with an average of 0.5 blood alcohol level… 24/7. This little experiment proves invigorating at first when each of them finds themselves a little looser, a little more effervescent in both their work and personal lives… until such an endeavour inevitably careens towards a downward spiral, for each in gravely different ways. The thing is, alcohol is a bandaid, not a magic curative elixir for all problems psychological and interpersonal. One can use at first, even at as benign a level as this experiment suggests, but the incremental nature of how it affects our bodies soon takes control and self destruction can be imminent. We see Mikkelsen’s already inert marriage detonate like a dying star, his younger colleague can’t act appropriately around his wife and young children anymore and their older friend seems to suffer from some kind of repressed pain that he and the film are too scared to even unpack, it’s so bad. I don’t want anyone to label this as a ‘midlife crisis’ film because that’s a cheap and patronizing term; anyone at any point in their life can not be okay and their struggles shouldn’t be relegated to labels like that. These are simply four human beings who naively experiment with alcohol and realize that not only will excessive use *not* fix their problems, it will emblazon them further into the forefront of their psyches and force out a fierce reckoning from each, whether they’re ready for it or not. Some are, some aren’t, and that’s the beauty of this narrative. Mikkelsen has never been better, he’s got that observant subtlety we’ve come to know him for but there’s also a vivacity and deepest emotional burn to the work that is a new and mesmerizing formula from him as an artist. Also he’s rocks some dance moves I never expected him to have in a joyous, blessedly cathartic ‘jazz ballet’ sequence near the end that nails the film’s desire to be thoroughly bittersweet but ultimately uplifting. Like the best cocktails, the mixture has to be in utmost equilibrium or the flavour is off. The same can be said for a film that wants to bridge genres or simply evoke multiple complex emotions at once: Another Round is jubilant, compassionate, loving yet doesn’t shy away from the dark, bleak and dysfunctional corners of life, using alcohol as a narrative avatar to unearth what was already there in its human characters. Masterful film.

-Nate Hill

Edward Zwick’s Legends Of The Fall

I’ve read lots of reviews that go ahead and dismiss Edward Zwick’s Legends Of The Fall as just another schmaltzy post civil war melodrama like Hollywood used to do a lot in the golden age, and this film is certainly reinforced by and reminiscent of that aesthetic but to say it’s just hollow romantic fluff with good scenery is to miss out on real darkness, complex human characters and a deep, tragedy soaked narrative that is quite a bit more ruthless and unforgiving towards its characters than this type of gorgeous big budget historical piece usually is. The setting is Montana (filmed in Alberta though, because those Yanks can’t let our superior Canadian scenery speak for itself) sometime before the start of World War 1. Ex Colonel William Ludlow (Anthony Hopkins) lives a peaceful life on a sprawling ranch with his three sons, Tristan (Brad Pitt), Alfred (Aiden Quinn) and Samuel (Henry Thomas). The Colonel is a fiercely antiwar fellow having seen more than his fair share of combat and wishes to shield his sons from the horrors of war, but Samuel incites the other two with his idealistic nature and soon the trio is off to France to play in the trenches. This and the complex relationship the entire family has with Samuel’s fiancée Susannah (Julia Ormond) maps out a tangled web of malcontent, shifting romances and uneasy relationships as war, tragedy and crime make their mark on changing landscapes both physical and mental within this clan. Brad Pitt’s Tristan is the lynchpin of the story, an untamed halfbreed who has a good soul but seems to be a magnet for darkness and destruction, a nature that follows him no matter where he goes in the world, or who he loves. Quinn makes stately, resentful work of Alfred, Thomas is the baby-faced kid of the family who Tristan fiercely tries to protect in wartime scenes that depict harrowing, elemental carnage. Hopkins’ Ludlow has a warrior’s heart that has long since turned to peace with the wilderness and his family around him, until times get tough again. Ormond is quiet, dignified and heartbreaking as a girl who starts off the film having lost her own family and unfortunately is headed towards the same gauntlet with the Ludlows. The supporting cast is composed of excellent work from Tantoo Cardinal, Karina Lombard, Kenneth Welsh, Bill Dow, Gordon Tootisis, John Novak, Paul Desmond and Bart the Bear. I’ll listen to any arguments saying this movie is Hollywood melodrama and be in a modicum of agreement but that doesn’t make it bereft of substance, spirit or vitality. The characters are all immensely well drawn, starting with Hopkins’s patriarch who has seen what his former cavalry did to the indigenous tribes and has tried to purge that trauma from his being by spending the rest of his life being kind. Pitt’s Tristan is a supernova of the plains, the kind of character who makes an entrance followed by a literal flock of wild mustangs and it doesn’t even come across as silly because the film is so earnest. James Horner contributes a swelling orchestral score that is every bit as majestic as the jaw dropping cinematography and emotional as the narrative beats. Zwick did a small handful of these big sky, super emotional historical epics in his heyday including Glory, The Last Samurai and Blood Diamond, but this has to be my favourite. It’s such a potent, full blooded film and looks just spectacular on Blu Ray.

-Nate Hill

Hallmark’s The Love Letter

I like a Hallmark film once in a while, provided it has some actors I love and it’s not too vanilla or syrupy. The Love Letter is a reasonably sweet, endearing little time travel romance fantasy thing that benefits greatly from its two leads Campbell Scott and Jennifer Jason Leigh, who both hail from arenas far off from usual territory like this but for whatever reason they signed on. Remember that film The Lake House with Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock? Where they send letters to each other decades apart through a magic mailbox? Well I’m pretty sure whoever made that one saw this and almost totally ripped it off because they’re uncannily similar. Instead of a mailbox it’s a mahogany writing desk, owned by Leigh’s Elizabeth Whitcomb, a civil war era girl about to be forced into marriage by her father to some dude she hates. Scott is a present day dude who is engaged to another girl (Daphne Ashbrook) until he purchases the desk at an antique store and discovers that he can communicate with Leigh across the gulf of time simply by posting letters through the inside panel, and the two begin exchanging love letters in what can only be described as the ultimate long distance relationship. Now the issue with any film like this is, how would these two ever end up together for real? The film already plays around with the laws of physics and reality but it would have to completely rewrite them to unite these two as they are literally alive in different centuries. The script’s solution? Well you’ll see, I didn’t altogether buy it but it’s an admirable effort. Scott is simple, grounded and earnest as ever, Leigh is her usual sweet yet somehow edgy self, always a captivating actress to watch. The only chemistry they really have is vocal as they read these letter and briefly in some sort of.. well, you’ll see. I’m a Leigh completist so I’ve been keeping an eye out for years and finally scored a DVD at a used book shop near me. Sweet, low key, whimsical and filmed in picturesque Virginia during the fall, worth a look for its leads, Leigh especially, and a cheeky last minute ending that will either have you rolling your eyes or feeling warm and fuzzy. Bit of both for me.

-Nate Hill

Thomas Bezucha’s Let Him Go

Before I start this review can I just say what a gorgeous, adorable couple Kevin Costner and Diane Lane make? They played one once before in Man Of Steel but the movie wasn’t quite centred on them, however in sweeping American gothic drama-thriller Let Him Go they are front and centre as a husband and wife fighting desperately for what’s theirs in early 1960’s Montana, and they are both every inch the movie stars we’ve come to know and love. This film could have easily gone the direct, glossy genre route and given us something that looked pretty, serviced the audience but didn’t provide much depth beyond surface level. Somewhat newbie director Thomas Bezucha (this is only his third feature in a decade) works from a novel by Larry Watson to give us a rich, stirring, full blooded story of two loving grandparents who refuse to go gentle into that good night, and the film won me over big time. They are George and Margaret Blackledge, loving parents and grandparents until their son passes away in a terrible accident, and his widow marries a no good dirtbag who absconds with her and the grandson with nary a word of farewell. It turns out this brat comes from an entire family of no good dirtbags just like him called the Weboys, presided over by tyrannical matriarchal bitch Blanche Weboy, played by Lesley Manville who sinks her fangs in for the kind of cape twirling, rotten bastard villain turn that would make Imelda Staunton’s Dolores Umbridge cower. She has all of her claws in all of her sons, and soon too the grandson that doesn’t belong to her. So George and Margaret make the journey from Montana into chilly North Dakota to first reason with, then engage in bitter conflict against this maladjusted clan. Costner is gruff, curt and reserved as George but he has always been very skilled at saying a lot without using his words, letting a glance, a shift of weight or gesture speak tomes, and he employs that here to full effect. Lane is the maternal heart, soul and driving force of the film, showing unbreakable determination, resilience and love in the face of belligerent evil. They’re both superb, but what makes the film ultimately so effective is how well they work *together.* There are two scenes that stand out to me as key lynchpins of both their relationship and the narrative: before they leave their ranch to find the grandson, they visit a family grave plot to see their son. Margaret seems upset and says she’d rather not be there because it’s filled with people she’s lost. George says with clenched melancholy “Maybe that’s what life becomes after awhile, just a bunch of people we’ve lost.” This is important in establishing them as individuals and as a couple. Later in North Dakota they get dressed up and go to dinner together, discuss life, death and share a memory in which Margaret whispers words of comfort to her horse who has to be put down. This is a script that means business and doesn’t just exist as framework for thrills, although there are plenty, this is one of the most tense, high stakes, intense stories I’ve seen in awhile. The film has uncommon depth and character development for a film of its type, and what really keeps the wind in the sails is Costner and Lane, their dialogue, romance, determination and love for one another, the grandson they’re fighting so hard to save and the life they’re trying to salvage, together, from the throes of tragedy. I miss when we’d go to the movies to see two honest to god stars like this in a simple, elegant, down to earth but very moving drama. One of the strongest films this year.

-Nate Hill

Gabrielle Savage Dockerman’s Missing In America

War movies are a dime a dozen, but how many filmmakers choose scripts that focus on veterans trying to live their lives years or even decades after, with the lingering trauma of conflict and impressions of violence following them around, now encoded into their psyche? Gabrielle Dockterman’s Missing In America is a very low budget, laid back yet deeply powerful story of how several men who once fought in the Viet Nam war deal with the aftermath in their twilight years, and how sometimes an event that terrible can have ripple effects many years later. Danny Glover is Jake, a reclusive, brittle vet who lives a simple life alone in the misty mountains of the Pacific Northwest. He has little human contact save for kindly yet poker-faced general store owner Kate (Linda Hamilton). One day he gets a visit from old army buddy Henry (David Strathairn), who is dying of lung cancer and leaves Jake with what is most important to him, his half Vietnamese daughter Lenny (Zoe Weizenbaum) in hopes that Jake can take care of her and give her a life when he’s gone. Jake is a stubborn, solitary fellow and things get to a rocky start but the two eventually do bond and the film quietly cultivates a meditative, sometimes stormy and often touching relationship between the two… until past wounds refuse to heal and tragedy strikes. It seems this region is home to several veterans other than Jake, and one in particular who never really recovered from the horrors of war is Red (Ron Perlman), a haunted, disfigured man who resents Lenny and is hostile towards her. This is a quiet, meaningful story of human beings trying their best with collective trauma and I greatly enjoyed it. The ending is horrific though and quickly escapes the trap of being simply a schmaltzy Hallmark type thing. This film, although simple and sentimental in areas, has a dark underlying theme and a difficult, tough-pill-to-swallow message to get across. I’m not going to lie and say this is Hollywood pedigree Oscar bait filmmaking, it’s got an ultra shoestring budget, most of which probably went to paying the wonderful cast, who are all excellent and don’t phone in for a second. Young Zoe Weizenbaum is great too in her first, almost only film role since. The Vancouver-area setting is lush, foggy, atmospheric and gorgeous through and through, naturally. If you like simple, truthful, no frills dramatic material showcasing big name actors doing something unpretentious, genuine and accessible, give it a go.

-Nate Hill

Clint Eastwood’s A Perfect World

Clint Eastwood’s A Perfect World is a damn near perfect film but it’s a far cry from the kind of thing he was often starring in during the early and mid portions of his career. This is the story of Texas Ranger Red Garnett (Eastwood) and his multi-state pursuit of escaped convict Butch Haynes (Kevin Costner), who has kidnapped a young boy (T.J. Lowther in one of the finest child actor performances I’ve seen) That description might make the film come across as a breathless thriller, machismo soaked Mano a Mano or souped up car chase picture but none of the above are the case. What Eastwood brings us instead is a quiet, sad, eccentric, painfully realistic and meandering rumination on human nature, the corrosive dynamics of the US law enforcement and justice systems and the downward spiral of lost souls subjected to terrible foster care, abuse and neglect. It *is* a chase picture of sorts but no one is in a huge hurry to get anywhere, least of all Red who literally follows Butch around in a confiscated Winnebago, eating tater tots with an idealistic criminologist played by the wonderful Laura Dern. Butch is a hardened criminal but made that way but his experience of the world around him and not an evil man as we see juxtaposition between him and his fellow escapee Terry (Keith Szarabajka, terrifying) who is genuinely a sadistic individual. Red has dealt with Butch years before and thinks that they can both draw on this past experience to resolve the situation with a modicum less of violence than needed, but the many factors involved make this difficult and complex. Eastwood is terrific as Red, a laconic, pragmatic and quietly soulful gunslinger who would rather talk things out than use cast iron brutality against anyone but knows full well that with a child in the crossfire it will almost certainly escalate past words. This may be Costner’s finest performance to date as Butch, he loads his portrayal with uncannily calibrated complexity and long buried trauma that bubbles out when triggered in emotionally devastating outbursts that showcase true intuition and organic cultivation of his craft. Watch as Butch observes a kindly farmer they’re staying with scold his son with violence and see how quick Costner goes from a low simmer to full on destructive hysteria as the childhood memories roil up inside him. Eastwood populates his cast with a well varied range of faces including Bruce McGill, Ray McKinnon, Leo Burmester, Bradley Whitford, Jennifer Griffin and more. This might be the most overlooked film in his career and I can understand that as it’s difficult, unconventional and forces you to see human beings in a series of violent events free from the sensationalistic, predestined grooves of action or thriller genres but just as they are in the real world: complicated, tough to understand, arbitrarily instigated and put to rest and, just like the world we live in itself, eternally ponderous and bereft of cathartic, tuck-you-in-at-night conflict resolution. One of the best film of the century.

-Nate Hill

Indie Gems: Dennis Brooks’ Goodnight Joseph Parker

Some independent films are just so amazing, heartfelt and original it pains me they’ve never found a larger audience or made a bigger splash. Dennis Brooks’ Goodnight Joseph Parker has the kind of script, acting and execution that would probably have attracted Oscar attention had it been done on a bigger budget or had more marketing, but this thing is a barebones indie despite having a fairly well known cast and remains to this day a long buried treasure. Somewhere in New Jersey is a run down, behind the times bar run by Charlie (Paul Sorvino), staffed by waitress Rita (Debi Mazar) and frequented by drunkard Frankie (Richard Edson). This is a humdrum, low income barfly existence in a part of town that never changes save to continue to its own beat, until estranged regular Joey Parker (Nick Chinlund) returns to town in a “900 dolla’ suit” with tales of making it big and going on Jay Leno soon. His return sparks many feelings and long repressed things from the past, in paternal Charlie, in Rita who has always loved him and local junkie Muriel (Kim Dickens) who he loves and foolishly plans to propose to with all his new flash and swagger to back him up. But flash and swagger is what barely masks the pain, sadness and regret in all these characters, that and the booze they constantly swill. This isn’t so much a story as it is a quick snapshot of collective lifestyles in the Jersey area, but even though it’s a ‘small’ story, the emotions and character dynamics couldn’t feel more immediate or affecting. Chinlund is one of the most underrated actors of his generation, mostly saddled with supporting villain roles in his career, but when he’s given a lead like this he really and truly shines. Joey is a man who lives in his ego and when he’s forced to shed it, to confront himself and where he stands in his old community, well Nick’s performance is something to see. Sorvino has always been one of the greats and he’s heartbreaking here as a man who constantly tried to do the right thing and is haunted by the consequences, it’s a manic, playful, compassionate and comedic bit of acting genius. Mazar is another one who constantly gets stuck the ‘snarky bitch’ character and for sure she’s great at that, but give her some breathing room, let her play a more sensitive type girl and just watch what she can do, her work is spellbinding here. As if all that talent isn’t enough we also get a recurring cameo from Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler as a sleazy, hyperactive ladies man who runs in and out of the plot like a tornado. In the credits it says this film is ‘inspired by the music of Tom Waits’ and indeed he can be heard rasping away on the soundtrack faintly from time to time. The film really captures the day in, day out nature of this part of town, and the human beings whose drink, laugh, fight and live within it. It takes place over the course of one night and the following day only, but in that window of time I felt all the joys, sorrows, triumphs, downfalls, regrets, passions and hopes in this group of scrappy individuals and cared for each one deeply. Brilliant piece of filmmaking.

-Nate Hill

Paul Schrader’s Affliction

Paul Schrader’s Affliction is a terrifying, tragic and too-real examination of how one series of events, dating back to childhood abuse, can spark the kind of self destructive downward spiral that no well adjusted person could ever thing themselves capable of. At the outset Nick Nolte’s Wade Whitehouse does indeed seem, perhaps mostly in his own eyes, to be a fairly well adjusted person. He’s an auxiliary lawman in a small New Hampshire community with a daughter, ex wife and set of problems that could be chalked up as ‘everyday variety.’ But just underneath that is a simmering layer of trauma and violence that inevitably will be unleashed, given the right set of catalytic incidents. Wade has a volcanically abusive father (James Coburn) who drinks like there’s no tomorrow and terrorized his family no end for years. Wade’s brother Rolfe (Willem Dafoe) distanced himself from the whole implosive saga years ago but when their mother passes away and the dynamics of their family as well as that of the town begins to shift, forces align against all of them.

This is a sad, heavy, fucked up, heinously bleak and relentlessly downbeat piece of storytelling, no fooling around. Wade’s trajectory is just painful to watch, from hazy flashbacks to childhood horrors inflicted by the old man to slow, steady signs of mental illness, delusional breakdowns and unstable behaviours manifesting gradually like an incoming blizzard. His relationship with his father is a poisoned minefield, his brother stays at arm’s length while his ex wife and daughter are resentful of him, perhaps scared or both. He has one solace in the girl he’s seeing (Sissy Spacek) but once she’s drawn into the whirlwind that is his life she too frays around the edges and is tainted by the violence, bad luck and pain surrounding it all. If this sounds like anything but a pleasant experience, it totally is and you’ll leave the room feeling like you’ve been slapped in the face repeatedly. But it’s an important, well crafted, intelligent, vital film that explores in uncommon empathy and understanding how a cycle of abuse, alcoholism, dereliction of compassionate behaviour and violence can ripple throughout generations like a sentient force all its own.

Nolte is sublime in this role, he’s an actor who always seems on the edge of an explosive outburst, always restless or shifting around, possessive of a deeply uneasy tone of voice and a guarded gaze. He rocks this role scarily well and it could be the performance of his career. Coburn is a tower of terror as the domineering patriarch, an imposing force in flashbacks now reduced to a frail, brittle and sour parody of himself in old age, constantly swilling booze, pissing archaic rhetoric like a toxic fountain and continuously displaying what the very worst traits of the male image look like. Dafoe is quietly powerful, present briefly in person and then in spirit with haunting narration, the black sheep of this clan in the best way possible. Spacek is so sad as the poor girl dragged into all this as it’s achingly clear she has deep feelings for Wade which she must abandon as soon as it becomes clear the kind of black hole he’s headed for. The cast is rounded out nicely with folks like Chris Heyerdahl, Brigid Tierney, Jim True-Frost, Mary Beth Hurt, Wayne Robson, Joanna Noyes and the excellent Holmes Osborne who we recall as Donnie Darko’s dad. This is a grim tale, as rough and cold as the inland terrain these people make their home, and for the family here there’s no way out of the cold, save for perhaps Dafoe’s character. It’s essential work though, a film that doesn’t doesn’t shy away from taboos that we ignore and banish out there with the howling wind, but rises up to meet and bear witness to such atrocities so that we may better recognize them in our own realm, and whittle away at the block of empathy and compassion in the face of such horror. A stone cold masterpiece.

-Nate Hill

Michael Petroni’s Till Human Voices Wake Us

Why do people repress memories and bury trauma only to have it resurface in a big way later in life? Often life events can be so painful that in the moment that is the only way to carry on until we are older and perhaps ready to process them better. Michael Petroni’s Till Human Voices Wake Us explores these feelings in deeply poetic, dreamlike and underrated yet very affecting fashion.

Guy Pearce is Sam, a Melbourne psychologist who travels back to his roots in rural Australia to bury his father, and a few other things from his past. We see flashbacks to his childhood (his teenage self played by the very talented Lindley Joiner) and his days spent with childhood sweetheart Sylvie (Brooke Harman) who tragically passed away when they were both very young. This key event has shaped who Sam is as an adult now and he is disarmed and unprepared for the flood of memory, emotion and unresolved pain that accompanies his return home. On top of that he meets a mysterious amnesiac woman named Ruby (Helena Bonham Carter) who can’t remember who she is and needs his help.

The title of the film as well as many plot and thematic elements are based upon a poem by T.S. Eliot, particularly this passage:

“We have lingered in the chambers of the sea

By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown

Till human voices wake us, and we drown.”

This excerpt and the overall poem are like a compass to the heart of what this story is about, it’s poetic in itself and speckled with clues here and there although to a seasoned filmgoer the story and twist ending won’t be especially difficult to discern, but like they say it’s about the journey. Pearce is an endlessly mesmerizing actor who only lends himself to challenging, distinct projects and he turns in a heartbreaking, implosive and eventually very cathartic turn here as a man who has done his best to avoid emotion for years until he can ignore the past no longer. Carter is sensational too, her dreamy meanderings slowly giving way to realization, she has the deep set eyes and features to pull of the most ethereal, mysterious characters. They have wonderful chemistry together too, as do Joiner and Harman. This is a quiet, slowly unfolding piece that requires your patience, understanding and diligent attention as it has no intent to crowd please, cloy or beg for cheaply elicited tears. Intensely moving romance, gorgeous Australian scenery and four rich, deep central performances from Pearce, Carter and the two kids. Highly recommended and available on Amazon Prime in HD.

-Nate Hill

Barbra Streisand’s The Prince Of Tides

As Nick Nolte’s hazy, forlorn narration fades in over a dreamlike aerial view of the South Carolina lowlands, you aren’t quite sure exactly what The Prince Of Tides has in store for its audience, which I think was intentional on director Barbra Streisand’s part. This is a film of immense power, tough interpersonal relationships, courage, hope, love, hardships and trauma buried like a secret so deep it takes many story beats to unpack it, like a flower tossing petals to the wind until bit by bit we see the core of truth within.

Nolte is Tom Wingo, a southern family man who endured a tumultuous and horrific childhood, weathering out hardships in stronger fashion than his two siblings, one of whom is dead and the other in psychiatric care in New York City after repeated suicide attempts. Tom leaves his wife (Blythe Danner) and daughters for awhile to look after her and to speak with her doctor, Susan (Streisand), who is trying desperately to understand and help them. It’s then that his real journey inward begins, and he learns to unearth, process and begin to heal from an unspeakably heinous tragedy from his childhood. He also finds love with her, despite them both having spouses, children and being two people who are worlds apart in every aspect of their lives despite their deep attraction and bond to one another.

The film is structured in such a way that harbours secrets deep and dark, events that are key in Tom’s understanding of himself and willingness to move forward, but they only come to light when he’s ready to both tell her and remind himself what he’s tried so hard to forget. He’s a headstrong man, loving father and rowdy southern football coach who outwardly appears to have it all figured out and has an alpha, assured response to anything flung his way… except Susan’s desire to know his pain, and help him through it. Nolte is a blustery, stormy performer who can scarcely sit still for two minutes or light a smoke without tossing it away after one drag to belt out some retort at another character, and indeed this is the impression we get of Tom off the bat. But there’s an introspective stillness that creeps into his performance here, slowly turning him from a closed off, emotionally unavailable man into a deeply hurt one who has to slow down a bit in order to heal. There’s a key scene in his performance where Susan frankly and bluntly (perhaps as a last resort tactic) coaxes the truth out of him; he does the nervous leg bob, stares out the window, gruffs, grunts and does anything to avoid letting himself remember it, feel it, but when he does… well, let’s just say that it’s the most honest work I’ve ever seen from him and he owns it with absolute dignity, truth and clarity. It isn’t easy getting such can honest performance out of someone as a director, but Streisand shows a sure hand and clear eye as a creative force and ditches the bubbly, frazzled aesthetic in her acting work for something beautifully direct and down to earth. The film shows how time can both heal wounds and cover them up without the proper reconciliation and processing, leading to the kind of intense, life changing surge of midlife dramatic events we see here. Tom bookends the film with meditative, personal rumination imparted to us in voiceover as the deep orange sun saturates the Carolinas and keeps us afloat in his world, his story for a captivating, heartbreaking, unforgettable two hours. The film may not be from 2019, but it’s my favourite one I saw for the first time this year and it will remain in my memory for a long time to come.

-Nate Hill