Sundance Review: Fair Play

An unexpected promotion at a cutthroat hedge fund pushes a young couple’s relationship to the brink, threatening to unravel far more than their recent engagement.

Fair Play was my favorite film of the Sundance Film Festival, to be quite honest I did not expect this at all. Given the film’s premise you would think it would just be another romantic thriller but this film goes quite a few steps beyond to make this one thrilling experience. 

For starters Phoebe Dynevor and Aiden Ehrenreich are both quite incredible, they give the best performances from a film I saw at the festival. From the opening act of them coming off as a normal couple, to the downright chaotic moments in the final act were things evolve into a nightmare. There’s a huge range of emotions and depth the two display in the film, there’s so many striking moments between the two that really capture the film’s atmosphere to the point where it’s just unbelievable. Chloe Domont did such a wonderful job in the director’s chair, she starts the film off as you would expect a relationship thriller but like I said before quickly evolves into chaos. 

I was a bit worried how Fair Play was going to end but luckily Chloe Domont ended the film right on a very high note that really leaves the viewer in shock and with a lot of raw power oozing out of it. Fair Play is the very definition of a powerhouse film, every chance it gets it hits the viewer hard, with incredible performances from Dynevor, Ehrenreich or any of the rest of the cast, the script which is a whole other beast with very grounded moments and striking dialogue. There’s also the closeup shots that really put into the conversation of the characters, it helps that these conversations are very well grounded and get pretty personal between the characters. 

Overall Fair Play is a fantastic film and a truly masterfully crafted film that I’m seriously glad I saw, if you are going to put a select few films from the Sundance film festival on your radar make sure one of them is Fair Play. 

Fair Play currently has no release date. 

10/10 A+


Sundance Review: Sometimes I Think About Dying

Fran, who likes to think about dying, makes the new guy at work laugh, which leads to dating and more, now the only thing standing in their way is Fran herself.

Sometimes I Think About Dying was one of the films at the festival that got the most buzz and rightfully so, while this movie most definitely won’t work for everyone it absolutely worked for me. 

Sometimes I Think About Dying is a film that is about loneliness, we follow a young woman who’s name is Fran who works at an office and is very lonely. We also see her small interaction’s with people and eventually she starts to open up as the film goes on, Daisy Ridley gives quite possibly her best performance to date. It’s something completely different from what she usually does and it’s truly fantastic. She really captures the feeling of loneliness and how hard it is to open up, Dave Merheje is also quite fantastic here as well, the blend of Merheje’s and Ridley’s personalities truly go well together, there’s some beautiful moments between the two and really capture the type of bond of someone wanting to help another open up. 

The filmmaking is also quite interesting as well, between the stylish shots in the office to the wide shots of the small town streets. It’s a very unexpectedly stylish film with a lot of variety, but the thing that I believe makes the film successful is that despite the film being about loneliness and trying to open up there’s so many genuinely sweet and cute moments. It’s not all dark at all which is definitely the most realistic approach, eventually we see Fran open up more and the final shot really solidifies this really strongly. It’s a beautiful ending that really inspires the viewer! 

Overall Sometimes I Think About Dying is a very relatable film that really hits you hard, yet is a genuinely sweet film that is quite strong in it’s messaging. Very well acted, written and directed all around! 

Sometimes I Think About Dying currently has no release date. 

9/10 A

Sundance Review: Mutt

Over the course of a single hectic day in New York City, three people from Feña’s past are thrust back into his life: his foreign father, his straight ex-boyfriend, and his 13-year old half-sister. Having lost touch since transitioning from female to male, Feña must navigate the new dynamics of these old relationships while tackling the day-to-day challenges that come with living a life in-between.

Much like A Little Prayer, Mutt also follows the daily life a certain person or group of people. In this case we follow the daily life of Feña a transmasc person played by Lio Mehiel. Mutt takes the premise of the film a step further and builds on Feña’s relationships which really results into something truly special. 

First and foremost it can’t be said enough how fantastic the performances really are here Lio Mehiel as I said before plays the leading role and their performance is just phenomenal especially during the last moments of the film which I’ll get into more in a second. MiMi Ryder plays Zoe, Feña’s sister which results in such a beautiful and very authentic brother and sister bond. It’s one of the best moments of the film and really captures the beauty of the film as well, the interactions between the two are truly beautiful. Finally there’s Alejandro Goic who plays Pablo, Feña’s father although he only appears during the film’s final moments those last moments are truly something special. 

Alejandro Goic and Lio Mehiel deliver some of the best acting I’ve seen so far this year during the final act, both display very realistic conversations and emotion that will absolutely tug at your heart strings. There’s this family element of wanting to be accepted and in the end really shines with it’s message, the rest of the film is just as spectacular there’s some attention to detail when it comes to the script. With lots of realistic conversations to the truly beautiful acting and cinematography there’s so much here that really is fascinating. 

Mutt currently has no release date. 

9/10 A

Sundance Review: Theater Camp

As summer rolls around again, kids are gathering from all over to attend AdirondACTS, a scrappy theater camp in upstate New York that’s a haven for budding performers. After its indomitable founder Joan (Amy Sedaris) falls into a coma, her clueless “crypto-bro” son Troy (Jimmy Tatro) is tasked with keeping the thespian paradise running. With financial ruin looming, Troy must join forces with Amos (Ben Platt), Rebecca-Diane (Molly Gordon), and their band of eccentric teachers to come up with a solution before the curtain rises on opening night.

Theater Camp is a mockumentary style film that pokes fun of theater camps but at the same time brings this nostalgia factor into the mix, which is mainly the reason why the film succeeds.

If Theater Camp were just another mockumentary it would still be great due to other factors but I don’t think it would stand out anywhere near as much, luckily directors Nick Lieberman and Molly Gordon put in a little bit of everything that everyone can relate to. Sure a lot of it is things theater kids will most definitely remember from their early years, but even if you were just in one play for the middle school or elementary school you went to you can definitely relate to this film. 

The performances are truly fantastic here, Ben Platt, Molly Gordon and the kids give tremendous performances that really capture the spirit of the film and the spirit of theater in general, there’s a lot of in jokes that Gordon and Lieberman make sure to put in. Even if you did one play in your life you will get these jokes, the singing voices are fantastic with each of the songs complimenting the film quite well especially the last one which really wraps the film up very nicely. 

Lastly the film is just genuinely really fun, there’s truly so much love and effort put into the film that really puts a smile on your face by the end of the film. It captures the fun and chaotic nature of theater so well and makes it a blast, this is one I highly recommend! 

Theater Camp has no release date. 

9/10 A

Sundance Review: Slow

Dancer Elena and sign language interpreter Dovydas meet and form a beautiful bond. As they dive into a new relationship, they must navigate how to build their own kind of intimacy.

Slow is a film that really caught my attention mainly due to the plot of the film and the rest of the film really backs that up quite well. 

The performances are all absolutely well done and really bring the film to another level, the film having a nuanced conversation about asexuality is absolutely well done. It’s some of the most raw and tender approaches to the topic I’ve seen in a film, due to this the film has tons of beautiful moments that each compliment each other really well. If there’s one word to describe Slow it’s “intimate” the film shows one of the most intimate relationships I’ve seen in awhile, it takes time to build and really ends with such beautiful results. The writing is very down to earth, with tons of interactions that completely make the mood of the film and bring the viewer along, the characters are beautifully written and well developed. 

The film is such a beautiful case of intimacy and why it’s important, how it’s such a comforting feeling and filled to the brim with love. Slow is such an honest film that I really can’t wait to watch again once it releases. 

Slow currently doesn’t have a release date. 

9/10 A

Sundance Review: Divinity

Set in an otherworldly human existence, scientist Sterling Pierce dedicated his life to the quest for immortality, slowly creating the building blocks of a groundbreaking serum named “Divinity.” Jaxxon Pierce, his son, now controls and manufactures his father’s once-benevolent dream.

Not going to lie I watched Divinity five days ago (at the time this was written) and I still don’t quite know what to think of it, Divinity was a last minute addition to my Sundance schedule. I added it mainly due to hearing some talk about it being a very “out there film” and that description doesn’t even begin to describe this film. 

Divinity is if you took Mad Max and Tetsuo: The Iron Man, mixed with 16mm black and white cinematography and then made it like taking a psychedelic drug, there’s so much creativity here that it’s truly insane. The use of the 16mm black and white cinematography heavily reminds you of those very strange experimental films you come across every now and then only in film form. It also does remind you a bit of the universal monster movies as well, there’s some really spectacular use of stop motion and live action during the final battle of the film that gives it such a unique look to it. 

The cast is quite great as well, Stephen Dorff is quite great but the one who steals it is Moises Arias who really gives such a interesting performance that matches the tone the film is going for, the direction from Eddie Alcazar is quite a strong one it puts you in this world where just about anything can happen. The viewer is immediately taken into this world through the visuals and cinematography that does a lot of the talking, there’s so much creativity and imagination here that is truly exciting. 

Divinity is definitely not going to be for everyone, having that said if it sounds like your type of thing I do recommend checking this one out once it releases. 

Divinity currently has no release date. 

8/10 B+

Sundance Review: A Little Prayer

A man tries to protect his daughter-in-law when he finds out his son is having an affair.

If there’s one film from Sundance that completely surprised me it was A Little Prayer, what could have been a very generic family drama ends up being something actually quite special filled with a lot of love poured into it. 

For starters David Stratharin and Jane Levy give beautiful performances that really make you shed a tear, the interactions between the two is some of the best dialogue I’ve seen so far this year and leads to some quite beautiful moments. The family themes truly shine and the cast blends so well together each of them complimenting each other quite well. At times the film does feel a bit soap operaish when it comes to the filmmaking but that is not nearly enough to take away from this movie. I’ve said many times before in my reviews but I love it when films show the daily lives of a person or group of people, in this case they do just that but with a family and other characters connecting to one another in the south. Which leads to some quite beautiful moments that make the film quite memorable, even if the plot is a bit basic at times what really hits it out of the park is the final moments of the film. 

Jane Levy delivers some of the best moments of her career during the final act of the film the father and daughter bond her and Stratharin during the final moments of the film is truly well done. 

Overall A Little Prayer is such a solid film filled with love and emotion that really does a fantastic job of connecting the family to one another, it sticks the landing at the end so beautifully that you will definitely shed a tear. Make sure to put this one on your radar. 

A Little Prayer currently has no release date. 

8/10 B+

Sundance Review: Other People’s Children

Rachel, 40 and childless, loves her life. When she falls in love with Ali, she becomes attached to his 4-year-old daughter, Leila.

Other People’s Children was a movie that I’ve been waiting to watch for awhile now, I mostly heard about it from other film festivals that I sadly couldn’t go to. So when it was going to be shown at Sundance I knew it would make schedule. 

Other People’s Children has a lot going for it mainly the performances especially Virginie Efira who gives a fantastic leading performance that really sticks to the viewer. The film itself has great storytelling that balances several different plotlines each of manage to make one another feel completely different from one another. There’s a lot of engaging moments here that really draw the viewer into the film, there’s so emotion and character to the film that really makes the film that much stronger. 

The main flaw however is the ending which like some people have pointed out is very similar to Worst Person In The World and it just doesn’t work anywhere near as well here, which is such an odd choice because the film had a perfect spot to end the film but instead it kept going and finished off with something that’s nowhere near as strong as the rest of the film. 

Having that said don’t let that discourage you from watching this film Other People’s Children is still quite a great film that I do recommend! 

Other People’s Children currently has no release date. 

7/10 B

Sundance Review: Girl

The curious relationship between a girl and her mother is threatened by the hostile community around them.

Girl is one of those movies where you see it a festival and think to yourself “that was a nice little movie” and then really don’t think anything more about it. I don’t really mean this in a bad way, it was a decent little movie that did tackle it’s themes pretty well. It’s just not one of the festivals highlights. 

The performances from Déborah Lukumunea and Le’Shantey Bonsu are incredible they give such a strong mother and daughter bonding performance, the movie is about them connecting both of them having their personal issues. The movie explores trauma and how it can really hurt someone and ends up being a quite moving movie at times, the main criticisms are mostly the pacing and the script lacking in power in some areas. I do appreciate Girl letting the character’s movements tell the story rather than the script during certain scenes, but other times it does not quite stick the landing. The final act isn’t as investing as the rest of the movie but it’s by no means bad, it’s just noticeable a bit of downgrade from the rest of the movie. 

Girl currently has no release date. 

6/10 C+

Sundance Review: Run Rabbit Run

A fertility doctor notices strange behaviour in her own child.

Run Rabbit Run was one of my most anticipated films of the Sundance Film Festival and is unfortunately the biggest disappointment, while it’s not terrible in fact it does have it’s positives. It’s held back by a lot of things that could have made this movie even better. 

The positives come from Sarah Snook’s fantastic performance which has this raw feel to it at times, which compliments well with the movie’s atmosphere which is another positive. The atmosphere is immediately established when the movie begins and is used quite well up until the third act of the movie where things get way too familiar. Which is the main issue with Run Rabbit Run it’s way too familiar, it’s yet another generational trauma horror movie that really doesn’t offer anything new. There’s some interesting bits of the mother and daughter relationship that show a lot of promise, but unfortunately don’t end up fully working to the full potential. The final act is filled with a bunch of plot points that are very familiar even the mother and daughter aspect which started out promising enough quickly turns into familiarity. 

Overall Run Rabbit Run has it’s moments but ultimately misses when it comes to being memorable and bringing something new to the table. 

Run Rabbit Run will be released on Netflix later this year. 

5/10 C