All of the following release Boxing Day in Australia except Bergman Island which has been postponed until March 2022.
Anders Danielsen Lie is having a moment. The Norwegian actor shows up in two films generating big buzz on the international Festival circuit, The Worst Person In The World and Bergman Island. Appearing in two such films is something. Giving almost the same performance in both is something else. Lie is undeniably charismatic, but, perhaps through no fault of his own, he is routinely cast in very similar roles, offering very little range. One Lie performance bleeds into the next.
In both films, he’s surrounded by far more interesting characters and bolder performances. The Worst Person In The World is about a young Oslo woman named Julie, played in an international career-making performance by Renate Reinsve. It’s a character study touching on familiar themes of career and ambition, love and relationships, family and ‘the kid question’ faced by twentysomethings from Oslo to Orkney, bathed in pretty Norwegian light and too much touchy-feely music, but driven energetically by Reinsve’s superb performance. She’s so good that she saves the film from its own very misconceived and tonally jarring third act, in which, admittedly, Lie offers some pretty solid, albeit unsurprising, acting. * * * 1/2
Bergman Island is about a young filmmaker, Chris (Vicki Krieps), who finds inspiration for her next movie while staying on Fårö Island, home to Ingmar Bergman, with her partner Tony (Tim Roth), also a filmmaker. They’re there to work and soak in the Bergman vibes while he appears at a tiny festival screening of one of his films. Lie appears in the film-within-the-film that Chris is conceiving, along with Mia Wasikowska; unfortunately, those scenes are far less interesting than the ‘real’ storyline, yet take up what feels like about half the running time. The scenes with Krieps and Roth, though, are terrific, and deeply chucklesome for cinephiles. * * * 1/2
Not generating buzz on the Festival circuit, but sure to create huge and hearty word-of-mouth among the general audience, is the impossible-to-dislike crowd-pleaser Délicieux (Delicious), ostensibly about the creation of France’s first proper restaurant in 1789. Like any bistro tartiflette, Délicieux is made strictly to the recipe (in this case, of foodie period romantic movies), changing none of the accepted ingredients (and embracing cheese and ham), displaying little to no technical innovation, but guaranteed to leave one satisfied, smiling and a little guilty. You’ll know what you’re getting and you’ll like it! * * * 1/2
I’m no expert on the original West Side Story, but I can say that Steven Spielberg’s remake, with an updated screenplay by Tony Kushner, is technically dazzling and musically delightful, if emotionally rather unengaging. The two most exciting characters and performances are those that are based on Mercutio and Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet, and if you know what happens to them, you’ll know that the third act is inevitably less exciting than the first two. * * * *