55th London Film Festival Roundup opinion

And, just like that, it’s all over. The 55th London Film Festival was, as banally predicted, a rich mix of (predominantly) tasty treats from around the world. With a typical Talking Animal Blug focus on feature-length modern narrative fiction, here are some final thoughts on the films shown.

Yet again, the festival got off to an unfortunately lacklustre start, with the underwhelming 360, but soon found its feet with some absolutely superb galas, including the most unsurprising hit of them all; The Descendants. Others included the Dardenne Brothers’ naturalistic The Kid With a Bike, Shame, which is wonderfully acted and superbly shot (although I did still expected director Steve McQueen to push things even further), and The Artist, a real favourite alongside the hilarious Carnage and We Need to Talk About Kevin, deserved winner of the festival’s Best Film award.

Notable disappointments, aside from those already mentioned (Wild Bill and Junkhearts, and The Awakening), were Hard Labour and Ostende, two films just not up to the technical standard of the rest of the programme. Asshole was visually interesting but an utter mess and while there were high hopes for Return, with Michael Shannon, that turned out to be a painfully boring experience. And the wooden spoon? The cringeworthy, cliché-ridden formula flick Hunky Dory comes incredibly close but the booby prize has to go straight to The Screen Illusion, a word-for-word yet modern-day adaptation of a seventeenth century play that tries to smash a round peg into a square hole with a frozen trout.

Other highlights, again aside from those already mentioned (Like Crazy and Las Acacias, Take Shelter, and Footnote), were Miss Bala, featuring a standout performance from Stephanie Sigman, touching gay romantic drama Weekend, quirky thriller Nobody Else But You, and quirky comedy Mitsuko Delivers. Without, featuring another stunning performance, from the relatively unknown Joslyn Jensen, was another firm favourite and, considering the likes of Pariah, Here, Uncle Kent and especially Martha Marcy May Marlene, On The Ice and Natural Selection, the winning theme from this year’s festival would have to be indie films from the Yoo Ess of Ay. Gosling Bless America.

28th Oct 2011

Comments

Good write up. Didn't see even a fraction as many films as you, but I think Alps and Miss Bala were my favourites. Although I think the way Miss Bala is being marketed is quite misleading- make it looks like an actioner when it's really more Ken Loach than anything else.

I liked The Last Screening as well- did you catch that in the end?

And yes, you know already that I fully agree with on The Screen Illusion!

Darren, 28th Oct 2011

So many films, so little time. Unfortunately I didn't get to see The Last Screening. I'm going to have to give Alps another go as well - I don't think I paid it enough attention.

Patrick Griffiths, 28th Oct 2011