A Double Feature SLIFF Review!
Céline Sciamma’s Petite Maman is a beautiful portrait of childhood. She crafts an exquisite movie full of love, loss, and hope. Petite Maman is a deep meditation on grief that is both richly rewarding and emotionally resonant. Clocking in at only 72-minutes: Sciamma’s film is a perfect picture. 5-stars. French director Sciamma (Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Girlhood, and Tomboy) has crafted together another beautiful work of art. With Petite Maman, Sciamma infuses delicacy and care into her newest picture. Back in November of 2019, I was able to see Sciamma's Portrait of a Lady on Fire at the St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF). Now, two years later, I am back at SLIFF seeing another Sciamma movie. It was marvelous. Our story follows eight-year-old Nelly (Joséphine Sanz), who has gone back to her mother's childhood home. Nelly's grandmother has just passed away, and her parents are there to go through and clean out the house.
While Nelly's parents are busy, she decides to explore the surrounding woods. Here, she encounters Marion (Gabrielle Sanz), a girl exactly Nelly's age and bears a striking resemblance (Joséphine and Gabrielle are twin sisters in real life). Nelly and Marion become fast friends, sharing lunches, constructing a forest hut together, and talking about life-changing events. Marion is only days away from going to the hospital for an operation. Petite Maman is an exquisite coming-of-age story full of love, discovery, and heartache. Sciamma's movie is a hidden gem that will slowly sneak up on you until it hits you like a shot to the heart. You will be overwhelmed with emotions while the screen overflows with intimacy and warmth. Petite Maman may be a short movie, but its power in storytelling is one of the strongest features to be released this year. Enchanting and deeply personal: Petite Maman is this year's top jewel. A masterclass.
Petite Maman is not rated (NR).
Directed by Céline Sciamma
Starring Joséphine Sanz, Gabrielle Sanz, Stéphane Varupenne, Nina Meurisse, and Margo Abascal.
Petite Maman had its world premiere at the 71st Berlin International Film Festival on 3 March 2021.
Memoria challenges the common features of traditional storytelling: boundary-pushing and slow-burning. Memoria is a hypnotic experience that sinks its teeth into your brain. Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s film is wildly unique. See it if it comes to your city because you won’t get another chance. Memoria is an experimental picture, leaving your head in a daze. There is some lyrical and deeply cinematic about Weerasethakul's newest feature. One that you cannot shake, sticking with you long after the end of the credits. Weerasethakul's (Cemetery of Splendor and Syndromes and a Century) films have always been in their own category of high art, as the director constructs and deconstructs the way we watch and experience movies. With Memoria, Weerasethakul takes that experience to another level. Neon has chosen an interesting route of a never-ending release in the United States. Meaning, rather than a traditional platform release to multiple theaters simultaneously: the film will be rolled out with a “deliberate and methodical approach,” Neon says. “Moving from city to city, theater to theater, week by week, playing in front of only one solitary audience at any given time.”
This is a wild idea, one that I was not so sure of going into the movie at the 2021 St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF). But after the experience, I completely understand Neon's method. The sound quality and mixing in a theater for Memoria is what truly makes the film so captivating. One would completely lose out on that encounter if watched at home. It would not and could not be the same. Think Memoria as being a kind of never-ending, moving-image art exhibit. The film will only play in theaters, never becoming available on DVD, VOD, or streaming. Memoria begins with Jessica (a fantastic Tilda Swinton) waking up to a loud sonic boom. With this boom and noise, Jessica cannot get out of her head. Jessica travels all over Bogotá to get answers and then begins to travel deep into the Colombian jungle. Memoria is a film full of deep meditation and re-awaking. It is an experience like no other.
Memoria is not rated (NR).
Directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Starring Tilda Swinton, Elkin Díaz, Jeanne Balibar, Juan Pablo Urrego, and Daniel Giménez Cacho.
Memoria had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on 15 July 2021.
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