Today was my last full day of movies, and it was a strong selection.
HONEY BOY was my first film of the day – directed by Alma Har’el and written by Shia LaBeouf (did you see his performance in THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON at THE NEON over the last few weeks?). “Actor and screenwriter Shia LaBeouf mines his own life in this confessional collaboration with director Alma Har’el, about the stormy childhood and early adult years of an actor struggling to reconcile with his abusive father (played by LaBeouf himself).” (taken from TIFF catalog) This tough story of the “bad boy” actor coming to terms with his upbringing is at times hard to watch – but certainly worth the ride. Performances across the board are strong – from the flashback scenes starring Noah Jupe (who is really fantastic) and LaBeouf to the more “current” scenes starring Lucas Hedges.
ROCKS – the title refers to the nickname of the main character – was up next. “British director Sarah Gavron (Brick Lane, Suffragette) returns with this intimate, honest portrait of a teenage girl who suddenly finds herself struggling to take care of herself and her younger brother.” (taken from TIFF catalog) I love when a film that is only minorly on my radar ends up blowing me away. I love this little gem. So rarely do we get stories about young black girls – and this one is strong and runs the emotional gamut. It’s honest, fresh, frustrating, complicated (though simply told) and full of life – sometimes jubilant and often heartbreaking. I hope this film gets a stateside release.
HOW TO BUILD A GIRL, my 31st film of the festival, was my last film of the day. “A working-class teenager (Beanie Feldstein) tries to reinvent herself as a hip London music critic, in this unconventional coming-of-age story based on British author Caitlin Moran’s semiautobiographical novel.” (taken from TIFF catalog) I felt like this film didn’t go over as well with the audience while I was loving it. There is a lot of really funny material – particularly in the first hour – that I felt others weren’t appreciating the way I did (you know that feeling when you’re the only one laughing). The dialog is sharp, and Feldstein is brilliant. But what starts as a charming and “innocent” film treads into adult territory as the main character is thrust into a grown-up atmosphere (which means the rating will keep the potential tween audience from seeing it theatrically). Sadly, as the film progresses, it starts to go in a rather predictable direction. That said, I felt like the film repaired some of its missteps by the end, and ultimately I found it quite satisfying. I left the film a much bigger fan of Beanie Feldstein. There is no trailer for this film yet…but here’s a little interview piece.
I met up with a couple friends for a last hurrah in the city and then came back to begin packing my bags. I have one more film early tomorrow morning, and then I’ll head to the airport.
Thanks for reading!