Another year of the Toronto International Film Festival has come and gone. Per usual, there were a lot of movies that I wanted to see but not enough time to see them. Also, with not actually living in Toronto, there’s really only so much time I can commit to the fest. However, I did manage to get in seven movies (beating my previous record of six) during the three days I did make it out.
My first day (Saturday) consisted of the premieres for About Ray and Maggie’s Plan. About Ray stars Elle Fanning as Ray, a transgender teen preparing to transition from a girl to a boy. The focus is rightly on Ray, but the film is also very much about Maggie, Ray’s mother (played by Naomi Watts), as she comes to terms with her past in order to give Ray the future he wants. As timely as the film is, I enjoyed the fact the movie wasn’t preachy as can sometimes happen given the subject matter. After a quick dinner break, it was time to line-up for my second movie of the night, Maggie’s Plan. In the six years that I’ve gone to the festival, the weather has always been decent. On this day, I got stuck in the pouring rain and it got increasingly cold and windy as we were waiting in line to get in (didn’t help either that the movie/post-Q&A was running long). Anyways, Maggie’s Plan (heh I just realized the coincidence between my two movies of the day) stars Greta Gerwig as the title character, who has decided to have a child via sperm donor Around the same time she meets John (Ethan Hawke) and ends up in an odd love triangle with him and his wife Georgette (Julianne Moore). It’s a rom-com, sort of in the vein of Woody Allen with all its quirks. Overall, just an okay movie for me, nothing spectacular. I do have to mention though that I’m incredibly proud of the fact that both movies are written and directed by females.
Sunday was another two premieres. The first was Desierto, the latest film directed and written by Jonas Cuaron. The film follows a group of Mexicans (led by Gael Garcia Bernal) as they attempt to cross the border into the United States, but are met by a vigilante (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) determined to take down all these “intruders.” What follows is an intense game of cat and mouse, where survival really is everything. The movie was very much an intense thriller, so basic in concept, but wrought with emotions, thrills, and more blood than I expected. Followed one intense movie with another, this time being Florian Gallenberger’s Colonia. The film follows Lena and Daniel (played by Emma Watson and Daniel Bruhl), a young couple caught in the midst of a military coup in Chile in the 1970s. When Daniel gets arrested and is sent to a secret cult camp, Lena infiltrates the camp in order to do the impossible – find Daniel and get out. It is such an incredible story, based on true events during the Cold War, that is part love story, part political drama, and part thriller – which amazingly enough, works.
I didn’t get back to the festival until the following Saturday and I did something I swore I wasn’t going to do again: see three movies in one day. The last time I saw three movies in a day at TIFF, I was so drained by the end, and that was with breaks in between the movies to eat and whatnot. This year, I decided to do a crazy thing and not only go see the 3-in-1, but they were back-to-back-to-back. The time in between the movies (an hour) were mostly spent waiting in line for the next one or walking around the vicinity of the TIFF Lightbox and Princess of Wales theatre (where I saw all three) to stretch before getting in line. Anyways, I realized the error of my ways the last time was that all the movies I saw were pretty (and increasingly) dramatic. So key to doing multiple movie days – variety.
The first of my three movies of the day was Our Brand is Crisis, starring Sandra Bullock as Jane Bodine, a political consultant who is hired by a Bolivian presidential candidate. The movie is a fictionalized, Hollywood version of similar events that actually occurred in Bolivia in 2002. It was very much a political dramedy, in that even with all the serious political stuff going on in the film, there was a lot of humour in it. The second movie of my day was The Danish Girl, which had been getting a lot of buzz about it for Eddie Redmayne’s amazing performance as Lili Elbe, the first person known to have gender reassignment surgery. As deserving as Redmayne is for the recognition of his performance, Alicia Vikander is absolutely incredible as Gerda, the wife of Einar Wegener, who struggles but ultimately supports her husband’s desire to be Lili. I’m saying this now: It will be an absolute travesty is Vikander does not get proper awards recognition (meaning Best Actress, not Supporting like some believe she will be categorized) for her performance here. My final movie was the Fest’s Closing Night film: Mr. Right. The movie is sort of a dark action-comedy starring Anna Kendrick as Martha, an unlucky in love girl who meets and falls for Sam Rockwell’s hitman Francis. I thought it was kind of a weird movie for Closing Night, but regardless, I loved it. It was a lot of fun and kind of weird in a good way. Plus, the introduction to the movie by director Paco Cabezas, writer Max Landis, and the cast was one of my favourite moments from the Festival, as Landis led the entire theatre to a sing-a-long of Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way” for no reason at all – and it was wonderful.