03/10/2019 Off To A Good Start – LFF Day 2
It’s always a relief to get off on the right foot with your first film of a festival, and I’m happy to say last night’s screening of Clemency at the BFI London Film Festival did just that, fulfilling on its promise as a compelling and effectively restrained examination of rarely explored subject matter. To no one’s surprise, the film – a character study about the toll Death Row takes on its inmates and prison staff – can be a tough watch at times, but two quietly explosive performances from Alfre Woodard, as the prison warden, and Aldis Hodge, the condemned inmate, ensure we’re invested throughout the deliberate slow burn. A flooring closeup of Woodard towards the end of the film, lingering to allow for every painful detail of her inner turmoil to pour from the screen, is hard to shake. Fingers crossed a UK distributor picks this one up soon, because it deserves to be seen, not least of all for the powerhouse performances.
Easing myself into the next week of non-stop celluloid joy – practically Christmas come early for me – only one film is on the cards again for tonight, this time the Irish-produced (yay!) Rose Plays Julie, making its World Premiere at LFF. I think it’s important to champion homegrown cinema, so I always try to seek out fresh voices in Irish cinema from festival lineups (you can take the boy out of Ireland etc). Colour me even more excited that this one falls under my favourite sub-genre: psychological thriller. The write-up from LFF’s programming team describes the film as taking us “through longing and revenge to arrive at the dark places of power and its abuses.” That can only end well, right? What I mean is, this should make for sinisterly good viewing.