Speaking of LGBT films, here’s another very strong one that unfortunately didn’t get enough attention due to its release date. The film premiered in 2017 on at the fall festivals, but the studio kept it until 2018, so the buzz around it is kind of died. However, many cinephiles hopefully didn’t miss it considering Sebastian Lelio was on the news around that time for winning an Oscar for “A Fantastic Woman.”
The film focuses on a non-practicing Jewish woman (Rachel Weisz) who returns to her childhood home after her father, a powerful rabbi, dies. But the story takes a different turn when she reunites with her childhood friend (Rachel McAdams) and their secret romance begins again.
“Disobedience” is tense and gripping whenever the screen is shared by the two Rachels. McAdams is particularly strong. The score is haunting and it has probably one of the most memorable love-making sequences shot on film in recent years.
“Disobedience” could be more complex given its storyline, and they could explore few more things like the exploring main character’s relationship with her roots as more than just a love story, “Disobedience” is a passionate film, and it’s also daring and devastating. The gorgeous cinematography makes the film even more of a haunting experience.
4. Let the Sunshine In
Two words: Claire Denis. Released in France in 2017 but in many other countries including U.S. and U.K. in 2018, “Let the Sunshine In” is probably the most heartfelt film Denis has ever made and one of the best performances Juliette Binoche has ever given. Denis focuses on dialogues here bit more, and there are some genuine humor to be found in them.
Binoche plays Isabelle, a divorced artist from Paris who is looking for love and sex, but she’s looking for it in the wrong places. It’s not necessarily a plot-driven film but rather a character study of a neurotic artist who goes through a midlife crisis.
Most of the film is basically basically a series of snapshots of a handful of relationships our main character goes through, but even though most of them are brief sequences, there is lot to be found in them. They can be heartbreaking, they can be funny, and they can certainly be fascinating.
The film also explores themes such as loneliness and how we try to question the things around us after we reach a certain level of success. Obviously, “Let the Sunshine in” is not for general audiences, but those who enjoy such films will enjoy it a lot.
3. A Star is Born
Bradley Cooper has established himself as one of the major movie stars of our time, but he doesn’t just act in this movie. This time he writes songs, writes a screenplay, learns how to play guitar and sing, and directs. Also, the film we’re referring to here is the third remake of a very classic story. So his task is hard, but he pulls it off well. How? First of all, he doesn’t focus on just the devastating love story, but also on the character’s depression and addiction; we also get concert sequences that are recorded live. Lady Gaga’s impressive vocals make those scenes even more impressive.
There’s also a subplot on his relationship with his brother, amazingly played by the icon himself Sam Elliott. Cooper handles all of this really well, which is why his film comes off really fresh, and even though we know the story that has been told here, it still hits us hard.
Thanks to the beautifully written songs, powerful acting performances, and Cooper’s passion for the project, “A Star is Born” shows once again that it’s okay to get a classic story as long as it’s treated right and explored with a fresh perspective.
2. Cold War
“Dwa serduszka cztery oczy,” – in a quiet and gentle voice, Zula (Joanna Kulig), the singer from the folk group “Mazurka” sings in Polish. She is accompanied by a handsome man, Victor (Tomasz Kot), with whom Zula has a secret affair. They are going to flee abroad during a tour in Berlin. She does not come at the appointed time to the appointed place, and he leaves. But the story doesn’t end there. As for its title, it’s because their passionate relationship mirrors postwar Poland’s political turmoil in this beautifully made romance epic.
One of the most pleasant surprises of this year’s Oscars was the fact that “Cold War” didn’t just get nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, but its director Pawel Pawlikowski and cinematographer Lukasz Zai were both nominated as well. Both well deserved and hopefully it will bring more attention to this film. Pawlikowski loosely based Zula and Wiktor’s story on that of his own parents, which makes the film personal as well.
And while talking about them, he says, “Just before they died they were, for two or three years, the happiest couple. They came to realize they had nothing but each other. The countries change. The boyfriends, girlfriends, wives change. Politics change. But they realized that the only thing in the world is her, is him.” And adds “It’s the mother of all love stories in a way.” It sure is, Pawel.
1. If Beale Street Could Talk
Barry Jenkins has become more of a known name after “Moonlight” and he’s back with an equally heartbreaking, again non-conventional drama, even if It has a more of structured plot in comparison. Jenkins and his cinematographer bring us a film that is beautiful look at. Everything about this film is beautiful, its grimness, its acting, its setting, its look. It has that kind of cinematic language that can easily seduce you, and his poetic narrative makes it even stronger.
The film is based on James Baldwin’s novel If Beale Street Could Talk, a novel with a heavily symbolic title. The main characters hare are young lovers – Tish (KiKi Layne), who is pregnant, and Fonny (Stephan James), a man who’s unjustly accused of rape. Then we are introduced to other characters, all written with such sensitivity and care and amazingly performed as well, especially Regina King, who’s a standout.
The film deals with many subjects and it deals with them wisely. Our main male character here is unjustly accused of rape, but here the film tries to understand the woman; not showing her as some hysterical liar or anything, but it tries to understand what she went through and it blames the system more than the individual.
But the main story here is the romance between Fonny and Tish. They face countless troubles, but they still have hope. They gain their hope from their love, from their kindness, and no matter what happens, they stay true to each other. It’s heartbreaking and the same time beautiful to watch their relationship, which is totally pure and honest.