Film Reviews: Beneath the Harvest Sky & Triptych

These reviews were originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 12 August 2014.

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the 9th Possible Worlds Film Festival in Sydney. Celebrating the best of US and Canadian cinema, the festival is run by not-for-profit group, The Festivalists. Unlike my usual 2 weekend pilgrimage to the Sydney Film Festival, I only had 1 day to dedicate to screenings, but what I discovered was a well organised event with friendly volunteers and a varied program of documentary and narrative cinema. I’ll certainly be returning next year.

Film Review: Triptych

As suggested by its title, Triptych is film divided into 3 sections. We firstly are introduced to Michelle, who has returned to her job in a second hand bookstore after a stint in a mental health institution, although she is far from symptom free. We then meet her sister, Marie, a singer struggling with a brain tumour diagnosis. The pending operation may rob her of her voice, and as we find out later, the memory of the sound of her father’s voice. Performing the operation will be Thomas, a neurosurgeon. With his marriage deteriorating, and a growing dependency on booze, his newly developed hand tremor may the signal the end of his career.

A French Canadian production, Triptych is an adaption of Robert Lepage’s nine hour performance piece, Lipsynch. Using time shifts and other storytelling trickery, directors Lepage and Pedro Pires have created 3 intertwining tales which explore the importance of voice, disability and other stuff. Almost like a jigsaw puzzle missing a few pieces, the final result is an unfocused take home message. Or perhaps I needed a few more coffees.

Film Review: Beneath the Harvest Sky

I was drawn to this US indie title specifically to see the performance of rising Aussie actor, Callan McAuliffe (I Am Number Four, The Great Gatsby, Underground: The Julian Assange Story). Set in a northern Maine town where the only future prospects for teenagers are potato farming, crime or getting out, Casper (Emory Cohen) and Dominic (McAuliffe) are best friends whose lives are on very different paths, despite their plans to leave town together. Dom is working hard harvesting potatoes to purchase his dream car. Casper is being drawn into the family business, smuggling drugs over the US – Canadian border.

Largely improvised, the film is a bleak but fascinating depiction of working class American life. The cast is uniformly terrific, with strong performances, including believable Canadian-like accents, from Cohen and McAuliffe. Fans of Veep will recognise Sarah Sutherland (daughter of Kiefer) and Timothy Simons in supporting roles. Game of Thrones aficionados will enjoy Aiden Gillen (Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish in GoT) as Casper’s slimy drug trafficking pa.

Published in: on October 5, 2014 at 14:49  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , ,