Hideaway (Le Refuge): Even though the topic of LGBTQ is not necessarily the main concern of the film, it nevertheless figures greatly into the plot. The film revolves mainly around Mousse, a pregnant ex-junkie who has to sort her life out after the death of her partner, Louis. She leaves her home in Paris and hides herself in away in a small village on the French coast. When Louis’ gay brother, Paul, joins her she has to deal with a completely new set of feelings and issues. Even though the film could easily wallow in Mousse’s life, there is more to it than that. It is filled with moments of joy and tenderness and at times I couldn’t help from laughing out loud. Isabelle Carré, who plays Mousse, gives a mesmerizing performance. Much of the film relies completely on her and she handles the difficult role beautifully. Louis-Ronan Choisy also gives an outstanding performance as Paul, the remaining brother who is torn between wanting to help for the sake of his dead brother and living his own life. While in a lot of ways, this film is French through and through, it is also universal in its depiction of grief and need for human company. The ending is both completely shocking yet also strangely beautiful and inevitable.
We Are the Mods: The Inside Out Festival program calls it “one of the most sumptuous-looking films of this year’s festival”. And that’s certainly true. The mod culture is represented here beautifully. We immediately feel the exciting appeal of it, not without the help of the beautiful mod siren, Nico who becomes friends with the main character, Sadie. When the two meet, Nico introduces Sadie to the world of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. Literally. It’s quite obvious that their relationship will develop to more than a friendship just from the fact that the film is being shown at the festival, however, the build-up to it isn’t as interesting as it could be. While the shots paying homage to classic mod films such as Blow Up and Quadrophenia certainly show the director’s fondness for her subject matter, they do very little to add to the actual story and become somewhat repetitive. Largely a series of stylized shots set to classic Mod music, they are pretty but feel more like a bunch of strung together music videos.
The film follows the classic “good girl corrupted by bad” scheme, in this case bad being Nico, her boyfriend Treg and their band of Vespa-driving, Army jacket-clad followers. It’s fun and interesting up to the point when Nico and Sadie’s friendship is rocked by an event that had no business happening and feels forced, as if the writers could not come up with any other conflict between the two. However, as a first-time effort by director and co-writer E. E. Cassidy this is a fun and at times poignant piece. What it does succeed in is portraying the confusion and sometimes utter loneliness that certainly a number of us felt during high school. We can identify with Sadie as she struggles to find her own identity and group of likeminded peers to fit in with.
The Last Summer of La Boyita (El Último Verano de La Boyita): The story of a Jorgelina, a young girl spending the summer in the Argentinian countryside with her father. She quickly becomes friends with Mario, a boy her age. When Mario, to his horror, begins to menstruate, he reveals to her his secret that he was born intersexed and their summer takes a drastic turn. What follows is a touching story revealing the strength of friendship between children. Even though she is very young, Jorgelina takes care of Mario the best way she knows how, keeps his secret and defends him to people making fun. Their blossoming friendship is set to the beautiful background of rural Argentina, which accentuates perfectly the overall sparseness of dialogue. Screenwriter and director Julia Solomonoff takes “show don’t tell” to heart and the result is both stark and tender. Even the great screenplay would be nothing without the two young actors Guadalupe Alonso and Nicolás Treise who portray Jorgelina and Mario, respectively. Alonso especially is cast perfectly and possesses the kind of acting ability that comes with being young and unspoiled by acting training and the self-awareness that comes with growing up. This is a truly fantastic look at the precociousness of childhood and loss of innocence.