Review: ‘THE SILENT TWINS’ is an imaginative interpretation of The Gibbons’ sisters haunting history.

THE SILENT TWINS

The real-life story of twin sisters June and Jennifer Gibbons continuously confounds psychologists and curious onlookers alike. As young girls from Barbados whose father transferred for work, they were the only Black family in their Wales neighborhood. The girls experienced insurmountable isolation and bullying. As a result, they turned inward, refusing to speak to anyone other than each other, and exhibited succinct behavior, almost catatonic at times. With each passing year, The Gibbons sisters enigmatic relationship wreaked havoc on their families, communities, and each other. The Silent Twins creatively illustrate their experiences. Theirs is a story that baffles the world.

The only time they spoke aloud was in their bedroom, as they created magnificent plays, poems, and short stories. The Silent Twins utilizes mixed media stop motion animation to illustrate the girls’ elaborate writing. When you hear their diary entries, you soon realize their astonishing level of intellect.

Following their dismissal from school, the girls enter a specialized education program (which later proved useless), followed by separate residential schools. June struggles to adjust due to the separation, becoming despondent. Once reunited, things regress to the status quo in their childhood bedroom for the next few years.

The dynamic between the two is clear; Jennifer exerts all power over June. Adolescent jealousy brings a new level of vengeful animosity to Jennifer and June’s relationship. Jennifer’s infatuation with an influential bad boy brings drugs and pyromania into their lives. The consequences of these behaviors lead them to their eleven-year admission to Broadmoor Hospital. The publication of June’s book further drives their competitive nature.

*SPOILER ALERT* If you’d like to stay in the dark about the story, skip the following paragraph!!

The Gibbons made a pact in childhood stating that if one of them died, the other should begin to speak and live a “normal life.” On the day of their release from Broadmoor, Jennifer passes away in the transport van. While the circumstances did not sit well with anyone, her autopsy would later reveal a case of undiagnosed myocarditis. Rather than sink into grief, the death of Jennifer frees June from a lifelong emotional and physical prison.

** Continue below…

Performances from Letitia Wright and Tamara Larance will blow you away. Their vocal specificity is imperative to understanding the real-life twins’ dialect and speech patterns. Their volatile chemistry jumps off the screen. Each actress has their time to shine.

Prior knowledge of this bizarre case proved to be a blessing and a curse. A few things felt stylistically superfluous, especially a runtime of nearly 2 hours. I almost wish this haunting tale were a touch more straightforward. The stop-motion sequences are such a powerful device that the added songs and whimsical choreography appear overkill. I’m unsure if The Silent Twins works as a whole. Perhaps, a viewer with zero previous understanding of The Gibbons’ strange existence might come to a different conclusion. If you fall into that category, I recommend going into the film blind. Either way, director Agnieszka Smoczynska displays a unique vision of two mind-boggling women.


Silence was their bond. Imagination set them free.

Letitia Wright and Tamara Lawrance star in #TheSilentTwins, only in theaters September 16.


A version of this review first appeared on AWFJ.org. To read more insights from the amazing women in the alliance, click here!


 

Review:’Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul’ is In Theaters and streaming only on Peacock now!

HONK FOR JESUS. SAVE YOUR SOUL.

To overcome a scandal, a viral pastor and his wife hire an up-and-coming festival filmmaker to revamp their image with a cinema verité documentary. Their goal is to refill their megachurch with its previous 25000 parishioners. But, it quickly becomes evident that Lee-Curtis and Trinitie are out of touch with reality. Based on writer-director-producer Adamma Ebo’s short film of the same name, Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul. is gloriously biting satire to the nth degree.

As revelations of the allegations against Lee-Curtis come to light, the complex nature of the story gets stickier. The dialogue is laugh-out-loud hilarious. Ebo makes full use of righteous indignation to excuse/cover sins. The script mirrors real life so accurately it is shocking. The hidden shame, faux outrage, and especially the hypocrisy, every character in Honk For Jesus is lying to themselves.

Regina Hall plays Trinitie Childs. Doing her best dutiful wife with a plastered smile, Hall is perfection. Each beat jumps off the screen. But there are cracks beneath the surface, waiting for the precise moment to break free. Sterling K. Brown as Lee-Curtis Childs is an explosive ball of energy. It’s a powerful and physical performance. Brown’s relentless commitment to the absurd makes this film as intriguing as it is funny. The chemistry between Hall and Brown is spectacular. It is an equal partnership of fierceness. The support they give to one another in every scene is palpable.

Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul. is a fight for the Childs’ last remaining shred of dignity. The balance of over-the-top farce and deep-seated issues creates a hell of a story. Blind faith is a dangerous thing. Adamma Ebo knows it, and so too shall audiences.


Written and Directed by Adamma Ebo

Produced by Adanne Ebo, Daniel Kaluuya, Rowan Riley, Amandla Crichlow, Jesse Burgum, Matthew Cooper

Starring Regina Hall, Sterling K. Brown


For more coverage of Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul from AWFJ members, click here!

Review: Based on a harrowing true story, ‘Breaking’ showcases John Boyega in an award-worthy performance.

BREAKING

*A version of this review originally appeared on AWFJ.org. To see more of their coverage of Breaking click here!*


Director Abi Damaris Corbin brings to life the true story of Brian Brown-Easley. John Boyega plays the real-life ex-Marine who, in a last-ditch effort to get the money the VA owes him, threatens to blow up a Wells Fargo with two female managers inside with him. Breaking is an intense thriller that keeps your heart in your throat from beginning to end. It is one of the most extraordinary stories of principle I’ve ever seen.

Performances across the board are magnificent. The women in the film elevate the complexities. Connie Britton is Lisa Larson, a news producer with whom Easley speaks in great detail. Like all of her roles, she is a solid addition to the cast. Olivia Washington plays Cassandra Easley, Brian’s ex-wife. A woman in an unthinkable crisis attempting to protect their daughter, Kiah, Washington is fantastic.

Selenis Leyva plays bank teller Rosa Diaz. She is the audience. Her fear is palpable. Coming from her role on Orange is the New Black, Leyva swaps prison sass for an entirely different brand of vulnerability. Nicole Beharie is a grounding force in Breaking. Her calm strength reminds you to take a breath between scenes. Her arc is breathtaking.

In one of his final roles, Michael Kenneth Williams plays Sargent Eli Bernard, the police negotiator. Williams’ relatable nature is of utmost importance. His chemistry with Boyega is imperative.

John Boyega presents the audience with a masterclass of human desperation. Each beat screams off the screen, even in his silence. This man has clear signs of PTSD, but his sincerity and circumstance have you rooting for him. The emotional nuance blew me away as Boyega is simultaneously patient and commanding. This performance deserves every award possible. You cannot ignore it.

Abi Damaris Corbin and cowriter Kwame Kwei-Armah understood the stakes in telling this story with urgency and respect. The social commentary about this country’s despicable treatment of our veterans could not be louder. Breaking is a story of one man’s dignity, but it is also an undeniable megaphone for tens of thousands of men and women being placed on the back burner every day. The system is disgraceful. Shockingly, these incidents aren’t more frequent.

Equally as relevant is that this story did not need to play out this way. Beharie’s character speaks directly to this issue, asking Easley how long she has to keep her son away from the news stories. Suspects of color are never treated the same way as white individuals. Breaking is yet another glaring example of racism. The final minutes of the film will rattle your soul.


In Theaters August 26th, 2022

 

Now in Theaters! ‘OFFICIAL COMPETITION’ is sheer perfection.

PRESENTS

OFFICIAL COMPETITION

Turning a Nobel Prize-winning novel into a movie on the whim of a millionaire, “it” director Lola Cuevas pairs two different kinds of actors to breathe life into her version of the story. What could go wrong casting a serious leading actor with a box office action star? Only everything, of course. If you’ve ever been through the rehearsal process with a director that is secure in their vision, Official Competition is for you. The film is a masterclass in writing and acting. It encompasses all the temperamental moments in the history of cinematic genius.

Oscar Martinez plays Ivan will a cultured legitimacy that feels elevated. He has a pedigree and air that is unmatched. His humble passion is so overblown you’ll give him a standing ovation while rolling your eyes. Antonio Banderas plays Felix with a Blockbuster pretty boy carelessness that is so familiar it’s brilliant. He is every cliché wrapped in a bow. Banderas brings a hot-tempered and diva nature to Felix. Almost play acting against Martinez, the evolution of their chemistry is like a tennis match. Each man absorbs traits from the other.

Penélope Cruz is eccentric director Lola. Her commitment to this character is extraordinary. The interactions between Lola and her leading men will have you smirking. The script allows her to push boundaries that challenge her fellow actors and the audience’s comfort. It’s another role that tops the last. She’s cheeky, powerful, unapologetic, and completely unconventional. Cruz gives her best performance to date.

These three astonishingly talented actors epitomize the industry. Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat explore the sheer absurdity of Hollywood. The cinematography is unforgettable. In many instances, our leads speak directly into the camera. Breaking the fourth wall is equal parts intrusive and entrancing. Official Competition might be the most extraordinary industry farce I’ve ever experienced. Making an award-worthy film while simultaneously acknowledging that awards are meaningless is a stroke of genius. It’s a wild meta joyride.

ONLY IN THEATERS JUNE 17, 2022  

DIRECTED BY Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat

WRITTEN BY Mariano Cohn, Andrés Duprat and Gastón Duprat

STARRING Penélope Cruz, Antonio Banderas, and Oscar Martínez

ABOUT THE DIRECTORS

Gastón Duprat (December 8, 1969, Bahía Blanca – Argentina) and Mariano Cohn (December 1, 1975, Villa Ballester – Buenos Aires, Argentina) have directed ten films including the successful “The Man Next Door,” “The Distinguished Citizen,” “Todo sobre el asado,” “My Masterpiece,” and “4×4” which competed in the most important international film festivals garnered with more than thirty international awards, including a Goya, the Platinum and the Ariel for Best Ibero-American Film. “Official Competition” is his latest, and highly anticipated feature film.

NEW YORK THEATERS

ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE MANHATTAN 14

 28 Liberty Street, Suite SC301 | New York, NY 10005

AMC LINCOLN SQUARE

 1998 Broadway | New York, NY 10023

AMC EMPIRE 25 THEATERS

 234 W 42nd St | New York, NY 10036

BAM ROSE CINEMAS

30 Lafayette Ave | Brooklyn, NY 11217

IFC CENTER

323 6th Ave | New York, NY 10014

STORY SCREEN / BEACON THEATER

445 Main St |Beacon, NY 12508

BELLMORE PLAYHOUSE

525 Bedford Ave | Bellmore, NY 11710

NEW CITY CINEMAS

202 S Main St | New City, NY 10956

STARR THEATRE – RHINEBECK

6415 Montgomery St | Rhinebeck, NY 12572

SAG HARBOUR CINEMAS

90 Main St | Sag Harbor, NY 11963

CINEMAPOLIS

120 E Green St | Ithaca, NY 14850

TIME & SPACE LIMITED HUDSON

434 Columbia St | Hudson, NY 12534

MOUNTAIN CINEMA

7971 Main St, Hunter, NY 12442

SPECTRUM 8 THEATERS

290 Delaware Ave, Albany, NY 12209

PICTUREHOUSE

175 Wolfs Ln | Village of Pelham, NY 10803

WESTHAMPTON BEACH PERFORMING ARTS CENTER

76 Main St | Westhampton Beach, NY 11978

CONNECTICUT THEATERS

AVON THEATRE FILM CENTER

272 Bedford St | Stamford, CT 06901

CRITERION CINEMAS NEW HAVEN 9

 86 Temple St | New Haven, CT 06510

NEW JERSEY THEATER

CLAIRIDGE CINEMAS

 486 Bloomfield Ave | Montclair, NJ 07042

114 MIN / SPANISH / COLOR

#IFCFilms

#OfficialCompetitionMovie


The original version of this review appeared on AWFJ.org. To see more reactions to the Official Competition from the amazing members Click Here!