Every so often, an overly confident filmmaker comes along to lighten the mood around taboos. There was Josh Lawson’s comedic approach to bizarre sexual fetishes in The Little Death, then Dave Schultz’s tasteless handling of suicide and death in Considering Love & Other Magic, and now Stephen Wallis with Defining Moments, an exhausting flume of individual stories dealing with heavy subject matter (like mental health) and the writer/director’s unbearably quirky perspective.
The Lodge thinks its rooted in gothic horror when its misery might actually be post-emo. Suicide is predominant in this macabre thriller from Austrian filmmakers Severin Fiala and Veronica Franz (Goodnight Mommy) and while it seems to be a topic used to explore the mourning identities of the film’s characters, it’s mostly in existence to add moody atmospheric chills. Surface-level stuff, but very effective.
Last Call pitches itself to audiences with an intriguing gimmick. Shot in real time, the film’s story is told from two perspectives – using a split-screen technique to divide the pair of one-take shots. However, Last Call is more than a crafty production with a trick up its sleeve.
A Man Called Ove, adapted from the novel by Frederik Backman, is a charming, yet slightly familiar dramedy about a grieving widow and his budding friendship with his new neighbours in a gated community. Recently nominated for two Academy Awards (Best Foreign Language Film and Best Makeup), Hannes Holm’s adaptation is a digestible and likeable, but hardly transcendent film.
At times, it feels like the filmmakers behind Coconut Hero had a genre grocery list handy and were checking off various requirements for their film. A lovable misfit from a small town? Check. Well-meaning parents who are frustrated with their incomprehensible social-outcast offspring? Check.