Times Colonist movie writer Michael D. Reid is covering the Victoria Film Festival, which continues until Feb. 12. Ratings are out of five stars. Go to timescolonist.com/entertainment/film-festival for updates.
Where: Vic Theatre
When: Today, 4 p.m.
Rating: Five stars
There are sequences in Italian writer-director Paolo Virzi’s bittersweet comedy-drama that invite comparisons to Thelma and Louise and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, but to sum it up this way would not do justice to this wonderfully humanistic film about mental illness.
Its highlights are superb performances by Valeria Bruni Tedeschi as Beatrice, a motor-mouthed, name-dropping patient who claims to have an aristocratic background and famous friends, and Micaela Ramazzotti as Donatella, a heavily tattooed, waif-like newcomer suffering from depression whom Beatrice takes under her wing at Villa Bondi, a mental institution in Tuscany. As this pair of psychologically damaged women embarks on a road trip that brings them face to face with old flames and personal crises at shopping malls, fancy restaurants, nightclubs and opulent homes, Virzi circumvents genre pitfalls and shatters clichés and stereotypes. While he is unafraid to have his protagonists acknowledge they might be “technically” crazy, it’s with a self-assured style that honours their humanity. He expertly balances tension, hilarity and an emotionally affecting finale that, as with so much in this film, defies expectations.
The Hollow Child
When: Tonight, 9 p.m.; Feb. 11, 4 p.m.
Rating: Three and a half stars
Directing from a screenplay by his Joanna Makes a Friend collaborator Ben Rollo, Jeremy Lutter has crafted a quietly unsettling folklore-inspired feature debut that turns familiar horror tropes on their ear. After opening sequences that seem more slow-paced than necessary, the action builds momentum as a young girl named Olivia (impressive newcomer Hannah Cheramy) vanishes after wandering into the woods. Jessica McLeod turns in a persuasive performance as Samantha, her older sister who can’t contain her suspicion that Olivia is an impostor. Samantha’s behaviour alienates her from her foster family and adds a layer of authenticity to the Gothic goings-on. McLeod’s performance is as much a highlight as the spooky spirit Lutter conjures, enhanced by Nelson and Graham Talbot’s striking cinematography and David Parfit’s sinister score.