Berlin 2017: On Body and Soul review

★★★☆☆ Opening on a woodland as two deer search through the snow for food, it’s clear from the start On Body and Soul isn’t a conventional love story. Their eyes meet and the stag wanders over to the doe, laying his head on her neck, an act of warmth and compassion in an otherwise cold,…

Berlin 2017: Ana, Mon Amour review

★★★☆☆ Child’s Pose director and Golden Bear-winner Cãlin Peter Netzer returns to the Berlinale with Ana, Mon Amour, a tale of love, addiction and the memories of failed romances that linger and won’t be chased away. When we first meet, Ana (Diana Cavallioti) and Toma (Mircea Postelnicu) they’re at the preliminary stage of their relationship,…

Berlin 2017: Adriana’s Pact review

★★★★☆ “Every family has their secrets,” claims Chilean director Lissette Orozco whilst introducing her debut film Adriana’s Pact – but what happens when these secrets get out? A deeply personal documentary about guilt and culpability, we see what happens when the personal and the political become inextricably entwined. Do the wounds of the past heal? And…

Berlin 2017: When the Day Had No Name review

★★★☆☆ In 2012, the bodies of four teenage boys were discovered on the outskirts of the Macedonian capital of Skopje. They had left home the previous morning to go on a fishing trip, but were found lying on the bank of the lake with bullet holes in their heads. Teona Strugar Mitevska’s When the Day…

Berlin 2017: Colo review

★★☆☆☆ Portugal’s economic crisis is explored through the strained dynamic of a family slowing falling apart in Teresa Villaverde’s austerity drama Colo. You wouldn’t know it by the clothes she wears or the furniture in their well-appointed apartment but the financial crisis has hit Marta’s (Alice Albergaria Borges) family hard. She lives with her mother…

Berlin 2017: Somniloquies review

★★★★☆ Most of us at some point have experienced a moment in a dream where you realise you are asleep but are utterly powerless to affect any change to the narrative your brain has spun. This sensation continues to fascinate and infuriate scientists. The dreamworld is a place we’ve all visited, yet one few of…

Berlin 2017: Hostages review

★★★★☆ In 1983, a group of young people from relatively privileged backgrounds attempted to hijack a plane and fly to the West from Soviet-controlled Georgia. With his fourth feature Hostages, Rezo Gigineishvili gives a bleakly thrilling account of the tragedy and how it unfolded. We first meet our angry young people on a beach. A…

Berlin 2017: Barrage review

★★☆☆☆ Laura Schroeder’s Barrage, the intriguing tale of three generations of women navigating the roles of mother and daughter, has gained a lot of attention due to the casting of Isabelle Huppert opposite her real-life daughter Lolita Chammah. Sadly, Huppert’s role as Elizabeth, the film’s domineering matriarch, is resigned to fringes for much of the…

Berlin 2017: A Fantastic Woman review

★★★★★ Chilean director Sebastián Lelio follows up 2013’s Gloria – a formidable comedy-drama about a middle-aged woman’s ill-fated romance with a retired naval officer – with A Fantastic Woman, an extremely sensitive, brazenly expressive melodrama about grief and the cost of being authentic in a world built on binaries. After a delightfully flamboyant and purposefully…

Berlin 2017: Vazante review

★★★☆☆ Daniela Thomas’ Vazante is a minor Greek tragedy transposed to colonial Brazil. A slow-burning drama about slavery in all its forms, this austere, visually striking film combines a harrowing period of Brazilian history with devastating accuracy of emotion. Vazante lacks much in the way of exposition, choosing to eschew the comforts of historical context…

Berlin 2017: Centaur review

★★★★☆ Is it mythology or tradition that holds societies together? That’s the question posed by Aktan Arym Kubat’s Centaur, a profoundly moving tale about life in rural Kyrgyzstan that’s defined by its simple, heartbreaking approach. Ancient tales and folklore about the relationship between men and horses, and the customs forged over decades of social change…

Berlin 2017: Golden Exits review

★★★★☆ An exquisitely rendered study of entitlement and millennial dissatisfaction, Alex Ross Perry returns to the Berlinale with his fifth feature, Golden Exits. Starring Jason Schwartzman, Mary-Louise Parker, Chloë Sevigny and Emily Browning, Perry’s latest is a sprawling ensemble piece full of pungent observation of human frailty. This Brooklyn tale of fractured identifies and duplicitous…