CineVue

Film reviews and more

Berlin 2019: Nadav Lapid’s Synonyms wins Golden Bear

With Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick passing on the baton to former Locarno artistic director Carlo Chatrian from next year, no one knew quite what to expect from this year’s competition strand. In the end, it was very much business as usual, with the Golden Bear for Best Film eventually going to Nadav Lapid’s autobiographical study of national identity, Synonyms. […]

Berlin 2019: So Long, My Son review

★★★★☆ Sixth generation director Wang Xiaoshuai returns to Berlin with a decade-spanning family drama set against some of the most turbulent events in recent Chinese history. At just over three-hours, So Long, My Son is an emotionally wrenching film that’s epic in scope but intimate in feeling. Depicting China’s difficult transition from state-controlled communism to state-sanctioned capitalism, So Long, My […]

Berlin 2019: Hellhole review

★★★★☆ In Michael Haneke’s Code Unknown, Juliette Binoche’s character Anne rides the Paris metro and is spat at by a young man with darker skin. In Bas Devos’ Hellhole, Alba Rohrwacher’s character rides the underground in Brussels and looks on as armed police survey her fellow passengers, who also have darker skin. In Haneke’s pre-9/11 film the European dream of […]

Berlin 2019: Varda by Agnès review

★★★★☆ Varda by Agnès contains the best parts of Agnès Varda: work, wit and wisdom. Though it does not reach the heights of her gloriously charming last film, Faces Places, it is still a cathartic, bittersweet swansong from one of cinema’s most endearing and adored auteurs. The film begins most unusually. The title appears, and the full “end” credits […]

Berlin 2019: The Souvenir review

★★★★☆ At an early point in The Souvenir, the protagonist explains that filmmaking is, for her, a form of therapy. The Souvenir itself might be a form of therapy for Joanna Hogg, who wrote and directed it and has since said that she based her script directly on her own experiences. The woman’s name is Julie and is played […]

Berlin 2019: I Was at Home, But review

★★★★☆ Angela Schanelec’s latest film I Was at Home, But opens on some reassuring farmyard animals. A dog chases a rabbit. Another dog lies sleeping. A donkey looks out the window of a weathered old house. Life is simple and time is slow. More than you can say, however, for the film’s protagonist, a woman who recently lost her […]

Berlin 2019: Bait review

★★★★☆ Bait joins a recent spate of British films that have abandoned the cities to depict a countryside in crisis. But, unlike social-realist dramas like The Levelling, Dark River and God’s Own Country, Mark Jenkin’s wonderfully weird debut subverts the kitchen sink template to create one of Berlin’s most original and satisfying films. The Cornish coastline is the backdrop […]

Berlin 2019: The Plagiarists review

★★★★☆ A pair of self-absorbed millennials are forced to confront the lack of originality behind their ideas in Peter Parlow’s The Plagiarists, a dramatic comedy that asks the questions; who has the “right” to access culture and who possesses the authority to speak on its behalf? The film opens with an argument between aspiring memoirist Anna (Lucy Kaminsky) and […]

Berlin 2019: The Golden Glove review

★★★☆☆ The seemingly unlikely tale of how Fatih Akin’s The Golden Glove got greenlit, funded and selected for competition at the Berlinale warrants further investigation. The German-Turkish director of The Cut and In The Fade has never shied away from hot button topics, nor has he ever beat around the bush when it comes to the darker corners of […]

Berlin 2019: God Exists, Her Name Is Petrunya review

★★★☆☆ Teona Strugar Mitevska’s previous film When the Day Had No Name was a bleak exploration of the cultural tensions in Macedonia, demonstrating how a world built on violence will inevitably breed more violence. It was a bold, if flawed, dissection of macho culture in the Balkans, a theme she develops further in God Exists, Her Name Is Petrunya, a […]

Berlin 2019: Earth review

★★★★☆ Highlighting the significant impact of mining and large-scale construction on the planet’s ecosystem, the latest film from documentarian Nikolaus Geyrhalter Earth is a powerful example of politically charged landscape filmmaking. A brief introduction underlines the extent to which mankind is now the most destructive force on the planet. Every year, 60 million tonnes of soil is moved by […]

Berlin 2019: Out Stealing Horses review

★★★☆☆ Hans Petter Moland is a peculiarity: a Norwegian born and based filmmaker of unmistakably American genre sensibilities. His 2014 film In Order of Disappearance was a darkly comic western revenge flick with more than a little of the Coen brothers about it – not least in the character played by Stellen Skarsgård, who roamed the snowy wilderness like an […]