Shining a spotlight on lesser known TIFF films
Angry Indian Godesses
By: Sanjana Nigam
Pan Nalin’s new film, Angry Indian Goddesses, is already being deemed “India’s first female buddy film” because it introduces a new, bonafide take on feminism in India. The story follows the lives of seven women who reunite to celebrate the wedding of their friend Frieda in Goa. Each of their individual lives provides insight into what life is like for an independent woman in modern day India. With a healthy dose of humor and dark drama, Nalin is able to strike a balance, giving the film a playful essence with a refreshingly authentic foundation.
One minor flaw remains—while the movie is quite the PSA for the slowly-progressing state of feminism in India, at times, it seems to be carrying too much on its plate, potentially making the movie an emotionally exhausting watch. The movie covered several unresolved social issues in India, ranging from rape and gay rights to the lack of female welfare, and just about everything in between.
However, despite the slight lack of structure, Angry Indian Goddesses’s witty and powerful script makes the film seem effortlessly humorous and engaging. If the movie kept your emotions high, the relatable dialogue—often improvised as cast members later revealed—was most likely what kept you anticipating even more.
The opening sequence first introduces these angry goddesses and ties you to the seat while the final scene leaves you emotionally wrecked and hanging off a cliff. Angry Indian Goddesses is not for the light-hearted. It is an ambitious film for those who crave an accurate understanding of social issues in India with a hefty dose of drama.
By: Diandra Sasongko
Being Charlie is the latest of Rob Reiner’s features, and the most personal of his works thus far. In this film, writer (and son of the director) Nick Reiner reflects on his experiences as a drug-addicted, rehab-ridden teenager, through titular character Charlie Mills, played by up-and-coming Jurassic World actor Nick Robinson.
More serious in nature than your standard Reiner flick, Being Charlie will predictably never become the comedy classic that is When Harry Met Sally… or The Princess Bride. It is refreshing that this movie veers away from a completely romance-centric plot and is instead focused more on one individual and the process of recovery that he goes through.
Disappointingly, Being Charlie had a two-dimensional approach to shedding light on drug addiction as a mental health issue, and ultimately lacks the emotional depth that is undeniably necessary in portraying that such sensitive subject matter in film. In fact, for a film whose main character is a drug addict, the movie focuses very little on the addiction itself. A lot seems to happen to Charlie in the movie as he deals with the consequences that his addiction brings upon his family, but a combination of a scattered storyline and several purposeless characters results in a relatively inconsequential film.
In spite of this, Being Charlie is still worth watching for those who genuinely enjoy comedy-dramas. The movie’s wry humour makes it more accessible, and Charlie Mills’s sharp mouth as well as the overall dialogue’s quick wit is what carries the movie and ties its different plot elements together. From the start of the movie to the end, Nick Robinson delivered an apt performance worthy of praise, which almost made up for the film’s narrative flaws.
By: Alevtina Lapiy
Written and directed by Ermek Tursunov, Stranger is as aesthetically pleasing as it is at times revolting and bizarre. There are moments of simple, sheer beauty characterized by the sparkle and crunch of the falling snow, soaring eagles and spring streams that glimmer and weave. There is blood too, and pain. Have you ever seen a man’s eyebrow roughly stitched up with a fishing hook?
Orphaned at a young age, our hero Ilyas leaves his village behind to build a life of solitude in the high mountains of Kazakhstan. He hunts, builds his strength, washes in mountain waterfalls and grows into something that isn’t a man, but not exactly a beast either. Covered head to toe in majestic furs, atop his stallion and surrounded by his massive dogs, Ilyas evades Stalinist deportation, the 1930s famine and even the Second World War.
The metaphorical intent of this film lies in Kazakhstan’s long historical struggle for independence. Ilyas, a nomad in his own name, is robbed of his freedom. He is rich now, civilized and yet completely unaware of how to function. When will the people of Kazakhstan have free elections? When will wealth be distributed fairly, and not by prestige? These are the secret questions the filmmaker is asking.
The film picks up pace upon Ilyas’s eventual, and somewhat accidental, return to the village. Unfortunately, this is also where it begins to run into problems. The relationships Ilyas engages in, meant to humanize him, only distance the audience from him. His interactions are unnecessarily child-like and simplistic. We learn little about Ilyas’s values, so it becomes difficult to carry on on this long journey with him. Ironically, he becomes a stranger to us.
This film is an experience for the senses. The score, courtesy of Kuat Shildebayev, is a beautiful blend of folk instrumentals and modern electronics. Coupled with cinematographer Murat Aliyev’s grand landscape shots, Stranger will have you in awe. However, watching it without having any knowledge of what or where Kazakhstan is will leave you confused, and watching it for the sake of characters and story will leave you somewhat disappointed.
Stranger is Kazakhstan’s official submission to the 88th Academy Awards.