The Beast

The Beast (La Bête) (2023)

The Beast (La Bête) seen for the BFI London Film Festival 2023 The Beast (La Bête) opens as it intends to go on, with a head-on shot of its protagonist Gabrielle (Léa Seydoux), whose face will remain a constant map modulating the film’s otherwise unstable narrative coordinates. Here, in a moment of pure metacinema, Gabrielle…

Birth/Rebirth

Birth/Rebirth (2023)

Birth/Rebirth seen for the BFI London Film Festival 2023 Birth/Rebirth opens with two extremes of life in a single sequence. After a pregnant woman experiencing a medical emergency is raced to hospital, her tiny premature baby is delivered by Caesarean, while she herself dies. These extremes – birth and death – allow for the dual…

Vincent Must Die

Vincent Must Die (Vincent doit mourir) (2023)

It would seem that the protagonist (Karim Leklou) of Stéphan Castang’s feature debut (scripted by Mathieu Naert) is rather like Romeo…, John Tucker…, The Beast…, Babysitter…, Suicide Girls…, Stupid Teenagers…, Horny Teenagers…, Nerdy Prudes…, Surf Nazis…, All Strippers…, All Superheroes…, All Critics… and indeed Everyone… before him, in that, at least according to the film’s…

Red Rooms

Red Rooms (Les chambres rouges) (2023)

Red Rooms (Les chambres rouges) first seen at the BFI London Film Festival 2023 She sees him through a screen. While in Red Rooms (Les chambres rouges), Kelly-Anne (Juliette Gariépy) sits in a Montréal courtroom, with a prominent crucifix around her neck, watching a criminal trial – and a cause célèbre – unfold, the defendant…

Tiger Stripes

Tiger Stripes (2023)

Tiger Stripes seen at the BFI London Film Festival 2023 Tiger Stripes opens with a diptych of scenes. In the first, we see 12-year-old Zaffan (Zafreen Zairizal) in close-up, panting heavily as she stares into the camera with barely contained defiance, even aggression, like a trapped, truculent animal. In the second, set a little earlier,…

The Hypnosis

The Hypnosis (Hypnosen, 2023)

The Hypnosis (Hypnosen) first seen at the BFI London Film Festival 2023 “I was 11 years old when I got my first period,” says Vera (Asta Kamma August) in the opening scene of Ernst De Geer’s The Hypnosis (Hypnosen). Standing, as though to punctuate her menstrual theme, against a red background, Vera describes her confusion…

Fallen Leaves

Fallen Leaves (Kuolleet lehdet) (2023)

Fallen Leaves (Kuolleet lehdet) at the BFI London Film Festival 2023 Some 35 years ago, Finnish writer/director Aki Kaurismäki made the so-called underdog (or workers’) trilogy. Though otherwise unrelated to each other, his Shadows In Paradise (1986), Ariel (1988) and The Match Factory Girl (1990) all featured downtrodden protagonists struggling to find solidarity, love or revenge…