Sunday, 12 June 2016

Sydney Film Festival: The Commune (2016), Mustang (2015), High Rise (2015)

Sydney Film Festival: (My) Day Two

My eyes put up resistance to my constant sitting in a dark room and staring at a bright screen during the first film I watched yesterday; when I finally saw myself in a mirror later that day, each had its own burst blood vessel. But my itchy, dry eyes were worth it for the films I saw.

The Commune (2016)
Director: Thomas Vinterberg

Vinterberg's film follows a family who decide to open their house as a commune in 1970s Denmark, welcoming friends and strangers into the fold. The central couple, Erik and Anna, have a close marriage at the film's beginning, but after they open their doors, Erik's attention begins to stray, taking an interest in one of his architect students. This causes huge rifts in Erik and Anna's marriage, as they try to figure out what are the boundaries one needs in open living. All the performances are strong, but Trine Dyrholm is the standout as Anna, capturing her break-down over her fizzled out marriage. It is overall good, with moments of humour and sadness, though perhaps had too many narrative threads.

Mustang (2015)
Director: Deniz Gamze Erguven

I had been looking forward to seeing this debut from Erguven, and was not disappointed. The story follows five adolescent sisters who are locked in their house with their grandmother and uncle (their parents are dead), after see engaging in "lewd" behaviour. The action is see largely through the youngest, Lale, who watches as her sisters are married-off, and decides she doesn't want this life for herself. This is a wonderful film, and reminded me of Wadjda, In Bloom and Girlhood, recent film which take seriously the anger and frustration of young women. A must-see

High Rise (2015)
Director: Ben Wheatley

I have not read J. G. Ballard's novel, but after seeing Wheatley's adaptation, I am interested in doing so. A recently completed tower-block, meant to meet every need for its inhabitants, is the setting of a descent into class warfare which exposes primeval desires beneath the middle- and upper-class facade. Not all the elements came together, and I did sometimes feel at sea regarding the story. However, it is beautifully designed, and Tom Hiddleston gives a clever, slippery performance as Robert Laing (and wears suits incredibly well). The film's enigmatic tone won't please some, but I do think it is worth seeing.


  1. I'm quite interested in seeing High Rise. I love the book.

    Brace yourself, though. Nothing good ever happens in anything written by J.G. Ballard. High Rise is the sort of book where the opening paragraphs shock you, and by the time you get to the end, the opening paragraphs are about as tame as vanilla yogurt.

    1. I would recommend it, though, as one always should, approach adaptations of beloved books with caution. If you've seen Ben Wheatley's other films, you will know what you are getting yourself into.

      Thank you for the warning. The film did do something like that, involving an unfortunate dog.