SIERANEVADASieranevada takes a peek inside a grieving family and the reality of being stuck in a small space with the people you love and hate. Days after the death of the family patriarch and the recent Charlie Hebdo attacks, we find our cast gathered together to honor their beloved father. While they wait for the priest to arrive, we discover, little by little, the chaos, the meddling, the selfish, emotionally unstable ways that only your own family can throw at you all at once. Director Cristi Puiu, makes us, the audience, a fly on the wall for 3 solid hrs. This might pose a challenge for some viewers. The camera, mostly stationary, pans back and forth in place for extended periods of time, catching whispers, shouts, and much chain smoking predominantly from a hallway position. While the actors try desperately not to step on each other or wake the baby while they wait to eat once the elusive priest finally arrives. The dialogue is a beautiful mix of over the top arguments, manic bereavement, and laughter at internet conspiracy theories. It’s undeniably relatable. Only a big family dynamic can get your blood boiling and creative juices flowing for that long.
THE REHEARSALHaving graduated drama school only blocks from the NYFF, I can relate to The Rehearsal on a very personal level. Based on the novel Eleanor Catton‘s debut novel of the same name. Director/writer Alison Maclean‘s film version is slightly different but the themes remain the same. Teachers taking advantage of their students. It was lovely to see the authenticity of a performing arts school portrayed on the big screen. It’s been a while since both the discipline and seemingly ridiculous have been combined to give the viewer a slice of life in a conservatory style education. No one is nice to you. everyone is competition. The teachers are their to teach you with hard life lessons. But this story is also about the emotional responsibility of not only the teachers, but the students as they grow into mature adults. Our main plot revolves around the lives and work of the kids. More specifically, their final project. The dialogue is evenhanded in humor and drama. The performances are extremely solid.The final scene is cinematic perfection.