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Day 1 – BFI London Film Festival – Review 360 – Opening Night Film

12 Oct

So here we are, the start of the 55th London Film Festival and boy was it an early start. Queuing from 8:45 this morning were bloggers, journos and film buffs posing as accredited members of the press. What were we all waiting for? Well, its billed as a headliner film featuring Rachel Weisz, Jude Law and Anthony Hopkins and captained by City of God director Fernando Meirelles.

So apart from being one of the most difficult films to find the trailer for, what is it all about? Well, to me, as the opening film of the Festival, I was expecting it to be somewhat explosive, however was a little bit de-flated as the movie progressed. In a nutshell, its a story of worldwide interconnectivity and a story of temptation, romance and friendship, demonstrating how one persons actions can interlink and affect another persons life. I know, heavy for 9am on a Wednesday morning. For the opening of a film festival as large as the London one, I would have expected something demonstrating the cream of the crop of what the UK had to offer, quite like they did last year with Never Let Me Go, however here it seems more like they chose to go with a more diverse international picking which perhaps honours a collection of talent from our European brothers and sisters (actors and actresses).

Dont get me wrong, the performances were good, well timed, and engaging, however it may be the structure and Peter Morgan’s script which was slightly lacking in parts. The length of the film overall was that little bit too long and sadly the climactic ending was not as dramatic as I had hoped, however the cinematography and whirlwind tour of various different destinations were well represented. The biggest problem I had however, was that it was one of those films that just plodded along rather than captivate its audience. I personally am not a huge fan of ensemble pieces which don’t have lead characters to help carry the film, and this film didn’t change my mind. Sadly, there wasn’t enough in-depth character understanding and I yearned for more information as I was walking out of the screening. The heavyweight names – Hopkins, Weisz, Law are not something to sell the film on, they are small parts in a larger machine, plus none of them are due to turn up tonight so if you’re camping out to see the big, well known stars, you’d be better off holding on for the George Clooney films next week. So for those who are fans of a slow moving, uneventful film this might be just the choice for you, but unfortunately it really wasn’t for me.

So my advice would be, not to avoid it completely – its not bad, its just not for everyone – but don’t rush and give up a good evening for this film if its sunny. If you’re a Fernando Merielles fan, stick to City of God and The Constant Gardener – and if you’re fans of the well known Russian and Slovakian actors in the film – you may just enjoy it.

However I don’t want to leave this all doom and gloom, it really is personal preference on this one, however the rest of the festival is hosting some very exciting talent on the big screen – next week looks like the big week for more highly anticipated films and tomorrow we’ve got a couple of indie successes premiering (Like Crazy, 50/50) so stay tuned for this and again, not all films are to everyone’s taste but there are so many coming up over the next couple of weeks that its definitely worth a train fare and cinema ticket to be part of this wonderful event.

Until tomorrow….