TIFF 2017 Movie Review: APRIL’S DAUGHTER (LAS HIJAS DE ABRIL)(Mexico 2017) ***

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2017. Go to TIFF 2017 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

April's Daughter Poster
Valeria is 17 and pregnant. She lives in Puerto Vallarta with Clara, her half sister. Valeria has not wanted her long-absent mother, April, to find out about her pregnancy.

Director:

Michel Franco

Writer:

Michel Franco

Stars:

Emma SuárezAna Valeria BecerrilEnrique Arrizon

Emma Suarez (Almodovar’s JULIETA) plays a crazy mother, one that appears warm and caring at first glance but turns out to be calculating and ruthless. April, mother of a pregnant teen re-enters her daughter’s, Valeria (Ana Valeria Becerril) life, her energetic, take-charge attitude taking on considerably more disturbing hues once the child is born.

She eventually kidnaps the baby and horrors, as if that is not enough, sleeps with Valeria’s boyfriend, the child’s father, Mateo (Enrique Arrizon).

Mateo is good-looking enough to temp both mother and daughter but is a character with no backbone. Director Franco shows what happens when maternal instincts are taken to the extreme – and it is not nice!

The rest go the film follows Valeria as she searches for her kidnapped daughter. One wishes for a more upbeat ending given the film’s theme as the ending is a bit of a letdown. Excellent performance by Emma Suarez! A good female film from a male director.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEVp4rvpD7I
 

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Film Review: JULIETA (Spain 2016) ***** Top 10

julieta_movie_poster

Directed by Pedro Almodovar

Writers: Pedro Almodóvar (guión), Alice Munro (basado en “Destino”, “Pronto” y “Silencio” de)

Stars: Emma Suárez, Adriana Ugarte, Daniel Grao

Review by Gilbert Seah

One of pouts of a good adaptation is that the adaptation contains the main story but has the author’s distinct imprint on it. From the very first 10 minutes of JULIETA, Almodovar’s adaptation of the book, written into a script by himself, the audience sees lots of Almodovar- and the Almodovar everyone likes.

The first scene is the modern apartment of the protagonist. She is dressed in bright red with matching bright red nail polish. She discards an envelope coloured bright blue and books of bright colours like yellow are seen on her book shelf. The next scene, a key one when she chance meets a friend of her daughter’s on the street, has the two quickly c friend is bing hurried along by three obviously queer queenie male friends. From the first two scenes, one can tell this is clearly an Almodovar with more surprised and delights on the way. One scene following is comical enough to feature a bright yellow garbage truck in the background.

JULIETE is one of Almodovar’s most talky films. Most of his later films have a 10- minute of so ‘talky’ segment in which some explanation to a plot is given. But JULIETA is talky from start to end. But this is not a bad or boring thing, as the script is filled with colourful dialogue, written by the master himself and full of his private anecdotes.

The film contains many shots of his past films. One for example has a group of young teens playing basketball. The scene has nothing to do with the movie, it is just thee when Juileta walks around the neighbourhood of her apartment, but it is reminiscent of the voyeuristic view of the bathing boys in the river in LA MALA EDUCATION, Almodovar’s best film. The same scene is visited later with teen girls playing the game.

JULIETA is about the mystery of life. Julieta’s daughter abandons her. It takes Julieat hers before she discovers the reason. It is here i the flashbacks where Almodovar’s film turns from stylized melodrama (no complaint) here to mystery, reminiscent of Hitchcock , complete with a score that sounds like Edward Hermann’s. In one scene, Lorenzo, Julieta’s lover even makes a reference to mystery writer Patricia Highsmith.

JULIETE contains many brilliantly executed scenes. One is the confrontation in which Julieta is told of her daughter’s intentions. “She has chosen her path, and you are not on it,” she is told. But the best scene occurs in the film’s subtle last minute, where a clever line told by Renato to Julieta ends the film.

Almodovar has progressed from comic to a serious director. His early comedies WHAT HAVE I DONE TO DESERVE THIS?, WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN or KIKA have none of the dead seriousness of JULIETA. JULIETA is Amodovar at his most mature and also arguably at his best.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YH5_4osOZK8

 

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