Film Recommendations From The 2017 BFI Film Festival

Our pick of the highlights from the BFI Film Festival, which took place earlier this month:

Good Time 
Director: Josh & Benny Safdie
Release date: 17 November 2017
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Benny Safdie, Jennifer Jason Leigh

After blowing a bank heist, Constantine Nikas’ (Robert Pattinson) younger brother is arrested. In an adrenaline-fuelled rush to collect $10,000 and save his brother and himself, Constantine risks his life through New York City’s underworld, in a spiral of chaos and violence that puts his own life on the line.

“By now, Robert Pattinson shouldn’t have to prove he can act. Cosmopolis, The Rover, Maps to the Stars and The Lost City of Z – they all show that his brooding Twilight days have passed into teen-movie myth. But if doubters still need proof, check out the Pattinson tour de force in Good Time. The title makes the movie sound like a romp. Instead, it’s a hellish ride through a New York night. As directed by the Safdie brothers, Josh and Benny, the movie rips through 100 minutes of screen time like Wile E. Coyote with his tail on fire. It’s electrifying.”
– Peter Travers (Rolling Stone)

Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev
Release date: 9 February 2018
Starring: Maryana Spivak, Alexey Rozin, Matvey Novikov

Boris and Zhenya are in the final stages of a harsh divorce, having both already found a new partner but still sharing the same home. The incessant fights alway end up focusing on the matter of their 12-year-old son Alyosha’s custody.

While the boy is completely ignored by his parents, he feels all the weight of their bitter discussions, feeling rejected and unwanted. Boris and Zhenya only realise about the boy’s disappearance two days after Alyosha leaves without a trace – they then embark on a quest to find their missing son.

“This is a film which confronts us with the most unthinkable of crises and perhaps also challenges the eternal piety and complacency of family life, that having children is a moral verity and duty which is somehow its own reward, which elevates by its very nature and goes beyond the requirement to show and to give love. But the cultivation of love needs the right conditions, the right soil in which to grow, and the Russia of Zvyagintsev’s film looks barren.”
– Peter Bradshaw (The Guardian)

120 BPM (Beats Per Minute)
Director: Robin Campillo
Release date: 6 April 2018
Starring: Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, Arnaud Valois, Adèle Haenel

Set in early ’90s in Paris, Campillo’s film sees the members of the organisation called ACT UP taking action against government agencies and pharmaceutical companies in a battle for those suffering from HIV/AIDS. As many of the activists are HIV-positive themselves, they pursue their cause with fierce speeches, bold protests and passionate actions. Passion also sparks between newcomer Nathan and veteran activist Sean, as their love story stands against the shadow of the virus.

“All of this happened a long time ago, of course, but in spite of its historical specificity, “BPM” never feels like a bulletin from the past. Its immediacy comes in part from the brisk naturalism of the performances and the nimbleness and fluidity of the editing. The characters are so vivid, so real, so familiar that it’s impossible to think of their struggles — and in some cases their deaths — as unfolding in anything but the present tense.”
– A. O. Scott (The NYTimes)