In a world where coupledom is the reigning norm and remaining single for too long gets you turned into an animal, David (Colin Farrell) wants to be a lobster. An excellent choice, everyone agrees, given that these blue-blooded princes of the ocean live up to a hundred years and remain fertile through all of it. While the absurd premise of director Yorgos Lanthimos’ English-language debut may seem a bit far-fetched, the number one helmer of the Greek weird wave succeeds in treading that fine line between high concept and high reward. Deliciously deadpan performances by a pot-bellied Colin Farrell and lispy John C. Reilly are comedy gold, while David’s romance with a ‘loner’ played by Rachel Weisz leaves us heartbroken yet passionate about earnest love.
From Mean Girls to Thirteen, high-school female friendships turning toxic have been a fruitful subject for filmmakers. Following up her directorial debut with a tale of intense closeness gone wrong, Mélanie Laurent (also an accomplished actress) has adapted Anne-Sophie Brasme’s novel of the same name in gripping fashion. When transfer student Sarah (Lou de Laâge) comes to town, Charlie (Joséphine Japy) finds herself gravitating away from her childhood best friend and into the sphere of this charismatic rebel. Though Japy and de Laâge keep their performances small, the ominous hints of a friendship turned to obsession grow increasingly suffocating.
La Isla Mínima/Marshland
Director Alberto Rodriguez uses the disappearance of two teenage girls in the Andalucian wetlands as the kick-off to a superbly crafted thriller. Fueled by texture and a gritty atmosphere, the suspense builds as two outsider cops discover the Spanish town has developed a habit of turning a blind eye to a murder or two. Noirish, political and with an intensely realistic feel, Marshland will have you slowly creeping towards the edge of your seat.
Mia Madre/My Mother
With a contemplation on the loss of a parent, Palme d’Or winner Nanni Moretti returns once more to his personal sphere and the stuff such as Dear Diary (1993) and The Son’s Room (2001) that made the Italian director a Cannes favorite. Though the gender switch is a nice touch, our protagonist Margherita is a stand-in for Moretti himself, leading a movie crew by day and sitting by his ailing mother’s bedside at night. The source of some much-needed comic relief is the clash between Margherita and Barry Huggins, a brash American actor with no ability to remember his lines but tons of Italian bravado, played hilariously by John Turturro.
Not many budding directors have made quite the splash Turkish-French Deniz Damze Ergüven did in 2015 with her critically acclaimed debut Mustang, an Oscar-nominated story that highlights just how strong the bond of siblinghood can be in an oppressive environment. When five sisters in a northern Turkish town decide to go for an innocent dip in the ocean with some fellow male students to celebrate the end of school, a meddlesome neighbor spins a tale of teenage depravity to their conservative grandmother and strict uncle. Sharp-tongued narrator and youngest sister Lale recounts how the tribe of girls gets locked up in their own home and get primed to be married off one by one as an increasing sense of outrage takes hold.
All screenings start at dusk (around 10:10 pm). More info at bruxellesfaitsoncinema.be.