Friday, June 23, 2017

levelFilm Film Review - The Colossal Failure of the Modern Relationship

The Colossal Failure of the Modern Relationship brings together four essential elements of the human experience: Food, Wine, Sex and Music.  In the opening frames sex takes centre stage. Cat (Krista Briges) is in the middle of an afternoon romp with Richard (David Cubitt) both know the relationship has to end when they are interrupted by Cat’s husband Freddy (Enrico Colantoni) sudden return home forcing Richard to scramble and make his escape. The physical distance between Freddie and Cat is immediately apparent.  Freddy announces that he has to go on a business trip to Niagara Wine country, Cat decides to tag along which sparks the interest of Richard (Freddy’s publishing boss) to make the trip along with his 20 something girlfriend Amy (Brooke Palsson).

The Niagara Wine country experience is the backbone of the film.  All of the sights and sounds of the region are prominently on display. As the foursome arrive into town down the main drag they pass the Historic Prince Edward Hotel, several wineries are featured prominently along with tandem biking and even the cracking sound amongst the vines to keep birds away from the grapes. The helicopter overhead shots of the rolling vineyards are full of colour capturing the undulation of the land below.

The narrative itself is a tale that has been told many times before. Relationships get stale, face a crisis that either strengthens or destroys them. Freddy is absent in his with Cat. He is focused on his food critic work a world in which he is a highly respected player. Meanwhile Cat who had a shot at being a prominent musician is home teaching piano lessons to fourth graders.   

The supporting players that fill out Freddy’s food critic circle produce the most notable performances in the production. Kristina Nicoll as the recently widowed open to new experience hard drinking Heddy. Alongside Alvaro D’Antonio and Tony Nappo as Max & Darren a couple from Rochester that took their vows in Niagara 5 years ago add energy to the film. Nappo supplies the best comedic moments of the piece as he has a some knowledge not known by all of the weekend attendees that he struggles with whether to reveal or not.

The Colossal Failure of a Modern Relationship is a tourism’s board dream. The wine, food, ambiance skillfully presented under the watchful eye of cinematographer Peter Benison will lead hoards of viewers to Niagara On the Lake in the very near future. The film itself does not break new ground in the relationship field neither does the story stand in as a blueprint for all modern relationships. But if you’re looking for a light watch in a beautifully shot setting the film is worth a look.

** ½ Out of 4.  

The Colossal Failure of the Modern Relationship | Sergio Navarretta | Canada | 103 Minutes. 

Tags: Cheating, Affair, Food Critic, Wine, Cheese, Winery, Niagara, Tandem Bike, Piano   

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Fox Searchlight Film Review - My Cousin Rachel

Sourced from the 1951 novel by Daphne du Maurier and adapted to the screen by director Roger Mitchell. My Cousin Rachel is a period piece with a very dark side.  The  Mitchell film is the second adaptation of the material following the 1952 version with Olivia de Havilland in the role of Rachel and Richard Burton's debut as Philip. Sam Claflin is Philip this time an orphan adopted by his older cousin  Ambrose (also played by Clafin). The narrative makes a specific point to mention that Philip has grown up with no feminine influence unless you count the female dogs on the Cornwall estate.   His benefactor heads south to Florence for his health and to escape the cold weather where he meets and falls in love with his cousin Rachel (Rachel Weitz).

Letters come back to Cornwall expressing Ambrose joy then the correspondence turns to terror and dread as the benefactor speaks of a meddling Italian Rainaldi (Pierfrancesco Favino) and the real thought that his new wife was trying to poison him. Philip goes to Florence to investigate confronts the Italian but is too late.

Back in Cornwall word comes that the widow Ambrose will visit the estate. Philip is angry, wants nothing to do with her blaming her for his parental figures death.  However, upon her arrival the widow’s feminine charms enchant the local community especially Philip as he bends to Rachel’s every desire both spoken and unspoken.

Rael Jones’ score underpins the piece. It’s the vehicle that builds the tension as all of Rachel’s desires are answers then Philip falls ill being spoon fed the widow’s special herb tea that may be hurting more than helping. The script is wonderfully vague with character’s shifting from victim to villain with each turn of the page.

Rachel Weisz despite not appearing for the first 20 minutes of the film commands the screen as the widow.  She uses glances, dialogue, smiles, sophistication and highly tuned nonverbal skills to dominate the locals who have never seen anyone like her. Sam Claflin expands his Hunger Games chops in a dual role of Ambrose / Philips.  He flips easily between lovely boy and Master of the estate as he slips further into paranoia wondering if events in Florence are repeating themselves in Cornwall.  Holliday Grainer is strong as the quick witted Louise. Daughter of Philips godfather she has had unreturned feelings for Phillip for years. She helps him to figure out the Rachel question and seems to be the only person that does not fall under her spell.

My Cousin Rachel is a historical psychological thriller. The characters are complex backed by a story that features the right sprinkling of twists and turns. Rachel Weisz thrives in the perceived villain role. The costume and set design teams also play a part setting the tone for an enjoyable movie going experience that I can recommend.

*** ½ Out of 4.

My Cousin Rachel | Roger Michell | UK / USA | 2017 | 106 Minutes. 

Tags; Orphan, Cornwall, Florence, Cousin, Letters, Brain Tumour, Guardian, Widow, Tisane, Will, Horses, Carriage, Trail.