2015 Foreign Language Nominee Reviews (“Force Majeure”, “Leviathan”, “Ida”)

Foreign Film reviews:
There are three real contenders, “Force Majeure” from Sweden, “Ida” from Poland, and “Leviathan” from Russia. I recently saw the first two.

“Force Majeure” directed by Ruben Östlund
fmA study on the nature of cowardice and it’s place in the family dynamic. Beautifully shot and extremely well acted, alas, it didn’t really fulfill it’s premise. It’s terribly thin on narrative and the third act is teensie-weensie. Still, a film EASILY worth seeing if for no other reason than it just might win the Oscar. (trailer below)

“Ida” directed by Pawel Pawlikowski
IdaAn INCREDIBLE film. Stunning, simple, affective…about a young novitiate who gets news that affects her planned purpose in life. But it is the performance of her aunt, by Agata Kulesza, that makes this film so compelling. DO NOT MISS THIS FILM if you love cinema. The high contrast black and white photography and the framing of each shot is magical. You may remember “The White Ribbon” from Germany which was nominated back in 2009 and was lauded for its use of B&W. “Ida” kicks its ass and is an hour shorter.  (trailer below)

“Leviathan” directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev
womanbysea  “Leviathan” is a languid, VERY Russian retelling of the story of Job, but instead of a whale, our protagonist must deal with a corrupt local government. It’s a beautifully shot film, but it’s overlong in my opinion and some of the plot points are convoluted. I thought “The Fool”, a much lower budget Russian film I saw a screening of at the Chicago Film Fest, made the same salient points better. All that said, it’s a fine film and worth seeing for the photography if nothing else. I’ll add that it seems to be the front-runner for the Oscar, but “Ida” is a MUCH better film and, again, is about an hour shorter.  (trailer below)

Originally written on 1/11/2015

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