Foreign

WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY? (HVA VIL FOLK SI)

Writer & Director
Iram Haq
(I AM YOURS)

Stars
Maria Mozhdah, Adil Hussain, Ekavali Khanna and Sheeba Chaddha

Writer and director Iram Haq‘s semi-autobiographical drama WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY? is about a sixteen year-old girl named Nisha (feature film debut of lead actor Maria Mozhdah, pictured below) who is forced to live a double life. At her family home in Norway, she reluctantly honours the traditional values of her Pakistani emigrant parents, father Mirza (Adil Hussain from LIFE OF PI) and mother, Najma (VEERE DI WEDDING actress Ekavali Khanna). Socially, Nisha is herself, a regular Norwegian teen who enjoys the contemporary westernised lifestyle and the company of her friends, one of whom is showing an interest of a more intimate nature towards her. Nisha welcomes the advances of the young man, with the mutual flirtation soon leading to the chance of their first physical encounter. When Nisha’s father sees them together, his instant disapproval and exaggerated assumptions lead to drastic actions that will tragically change Nisha’s life forever.

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A co-production of Norway, Sweden and Germany and spoken in Norwegian and Urdu, WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY? has something itself to powerfully say about people who forcibly trap and aim to control the actions of others, and the person they want them to be, yet will never become. And it’s not subtle in its representation of just that happening either! Taking into account the fact that this is a very personal film for writer & director Iram Haq to make, there is undoubtedly an inspirational story behind the heavy and heartbreaking one we see in WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY? that ultimately could have led to this good film being a great one. Nonetheless, many who do watch this movie will have their own connecting personal experience and be immediately drawn into this mightily absorbing story and profoundly resonate with its lead character.

Before Nisha’s two worlds collide, the film importantly establishes the foundations of both lives, granting us an understanding of their stark contrasts so that we also know who the real Nisha is. Once Mirza has become aware of his daughter’s secret life, things are sadly about to go from bad to much worse for our female protagonist. This scene, and the several minutes that follow are absolutely gripping to watch. Now, heed the following as necessary viewing preparation, as this is not intended to deter your interest to this film. Without revealing any specific plot details, the remainder of WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY? is harrowing to watch. All of the emphasis is continuously placed onto the horribly oppressive actions of the films perpetrators and the consequential suffering of the victims. Though it is absolutely warranted, there must be a source of strength, discernible resilience and some form of hope present to encourage Nisha’s survival and to also enable viewers those same hopes. Other than the occasional distraction from the hardship endured and the sheer hopelessness that is cast, Iram Haq doesn’t make any of these pivotal characteristics evident. Furthermore, her young protagonist has had significant alterations made to her existence that surely would have a greater psychological affect than what the script contains. More depth and development in these areas could only have strengthened an already powerful story.

Again, without mentioning specifics and to give you necessary advanced awareness, the ending arrives quite abruptly and could definitely have added even just a few additional scenes to leave viewers feeling more assured and lift some of the anger, pity and sadness felt for much of its length. Nevertheless, this is one foreign film with universal themes that ought to appeal to the masses worldwide, and whose story is so convincingly acted and always remains utterly absorbing.

3 stars

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Viewer Discretion
TBA 

Trailer
WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY? (HVA VIL FOLK SI)

Moviedoc thanks Palace, the Volvo Scandinavian Film Festival and Asha Holmes Publicity for the invite to the screening of this film

Review by Leigh for Moviedoc
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TWO IS A FAMILY (DEMAIN TOUT COMMENCE)

Director
Hugo Gélin

(JUST LIKE BROTHERS)

Stars
Omar Sy, Clémence Poésy, Antoine Bertrand and Gloria Colston

The crowds gathered from all around the world for this French adaptation of the 2013 Mexican film INSTRUCTIONS NOT INCLUDED. TWO IS A FAMILY not only sold more than three million tickets at the French box office but was also the most popular French language movie of 2017 worldwide.

Omar Sy (THE INTOUCHABLES) stars as Samuel, a charter boat pilot living and working at the gorgeous Côte d’Azur in the French Riviera. A true ladies’ man who can charm his way both into and out of just about anything, the hedonistic lifestyle of the hard-partying Samuel is given a rude awakening by way of a shock arrival one morning. A past summer fling, Kristin (Clémence Poésy), advises Samuel that he is the father of the baby girl that she is currently holding! Immediately after breaking the news to him, the troubled Kristin gets into a taxi and flees, abandoning her child and leaving the impromptu father to care for their daughter, Gloria.

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This French comedy/drama is a sweet-natured film that has its heart in the right place in spite of its misguided stumble to get to its ultimate message.

As his baptism by fire into fatherhood begins, Samuel is required to leave the clear blue waters and endless days of sunshine behind in pursuit of Kristin, who lives in London. This entire first act of TWO IS A FAMILY doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is fortunate for it is never genuinely convincing. Because he is not able to immediately locate Kristin, Samuel is required to make something of a life for himself in the English capital. The people that he meets here, which includes a French-speaking stranger that will become his friend, and the employment he gains give TWO IS A FAMILY extra comedic punch. Simultaneously, Samuel is becoming quite fond of his growing child and the film growing closer to the heart as a result. These individual elements begin to compliment the rather whimsical trajectory of the plot quite nicely throughout the middle stretches of the film.

While a good number of its unexpected developments to date are mostly a hit, there are more coming that don’t fit quite as comfortably. It eventually becomes obvious that we aren’t to take TWO IS A FAMILY so lightly after all, which poses a few problems. Not only have there been further less convincing developments made since the opening act, but the scale of drama occurring in the latter half has become quite weighty and high in volume. I’m not convinced that every layer added here is absolutely necessary. The only reliable and consistent ingredients of this movie are an engaging lead performance from Omar Sy, the remarkable feature film acting debut of Gloria Colston, and the touching and beautiful on-screen chemistry they share as father and daughter.

On a side note, the price of admission can (almost) be justified alone to see inside a home that is way beyond cool and may very well be every child’s dream house!

3 stars 

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Viewer Discretion
(Coarse language)

Trailer
TWO IS A FAMILY (DEMAIN TOUT COMMENCE)

Moviedoc thanks Palace Films for the in-season pass to watch this film

Review by Leigh for Moviedoc
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FOXTROT

Writer & Director
Samuel Maoz
(LEBANON)

Stars
Lior Ashkenazi, Sarah Adler, Yonathan Shiray and Shira Haas

This multi award-winning Hebrew-spoken drama has been described as a philosophical puzzle by its writer & director Samuel Maoz, whose stunning debut film LEBANON (2009) gave a claustrophobic and powerful account of war from within the confines of an army tank. It’s a puzzle in which particular pieces correspond to his very own life.

In modern day Tel Aviv, affluent but troubled married couple Michael and Daphna Feldmann (Lior Ashkenazi and Sarah Adler) receive shocking news that shakes them to their very core. There has been a fatal incident at the distant military post that their son, Jonathan (Yonathan Shiray), an IDF soldier, is stationed at. As the Feldmanns come to terms with their tragic loss and deal with the grief, sadness and anger that follows, the whirlwind of emotions in their home triggers the revelation of long-buried secrets and unsaid feelings.

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When films such as the recently released Russian drama LOVELESS, and the courageous South African movie THE WOUND are subject to some form of public persecution at the hands of government officials, insight worthy of sharing is a guarantee. After it won the coveted Grand Jury Prize at the Venice International Film Festival, FOXTROT was denounced by Israel’s Minister of Culture for its depiction of a single yet shocking event.

Israel’s submission for the foreign language film award at the 90th Academy Awards (where it made the December short list but did not receive a nomination) is rendered in three episodes. The first of these is centred on Michael, whose calmer exterior is harbouring signs of an implosion. It is clear that something significant was already on his mind prior to the arrival of military authorities at his home. What could this be? And how does the seemingly distant and cold relationship he has with his mother contribute to the suppression of his emotions? The second episode moves across to Jonathan’s story in the lead up to the incident. As you might expect, there is a near-constant presence of suspense during this passage. However, the humour that is derived during this segment of the film, as the young men who guard this checkpoint seek various avenues of interest and entertainment, is pleasantly unexpected.

These first two episodes, which occupy most of FOXTROT’s 108 minute length, are both strongly acted, well directed and keep its audience genuinely caring for its characters and about its trajectory, despite being slower to progress than necessary. I will not reveal anything at all regarding the third and final episode of FOXTROT, but I will say that this section of the film is where your appreciation for the crafty structure of the screenplay and its deceptively layered story is truly found.

Strongly recommended.

3 ½ stars

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Viewer Discretion
MA15+ (Strong sexualised imagery)

Trailer
FOXTROT

Moviedoc thanks Sharmill Films for the invite to the screening of this film

Review by Leigh for Moviedoc
Follow on Twitter – Moviedoc / LIKE on Facebook – @moviedoc13

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I GOT LIFE! (AURORE)

Director
Blandine Lenoir
(ZOUZOU)

Stars
Agnès Jaoui, Pascale Arbillot, Lou Roy-Lecollinet, Sarah Suco, Samir Guesmi, Philippe Rebbot and Thibault de Montalembert

A film made by a woman, starring a woman in a movie that is made for women, all sharing one common denominator – the age of participation is above forty. I GOT LIFE!, or AURORE as it is known in France, is a likeable comedic drama that may struggle to extend its appeal beyond its desired audience.

When we meet the titular character, Aurore Tabort (Agnès Jaoui, who also collaborates to the screenplay), she is at an uncertain time in her life. Separated from her husband, she works as a waitress for a boss and alongside colleagues who are much younger than she is while dealing with the physical reactions of menopause on a daily basis. Happiness in her life is sourced from the companionship of her best friend, Mano (Pascale Arbillot) and two daughters, Lucie (Lou Roy-Lecollinet) who lives at home with Aurore and Marina (Sarah Suco), who’s expecting her first child. While out one afternoon with Mano, Aurore bumps into Christophe (Thibault de Montalembert), a man who she had a brief love encounter with at high school. Could this surprise rendezvous be a new opportunity for Aurore to find love all over again?

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The plot in this French comedy/light drama is largely rendered via a random and wacky series of stand-alone scenes, some recurring sequences and arbitrary dialogue that (at best) does regularly offer mild amusement. When I GOT LIFE! takes an episodic break from being so quirky and goes more… normal, its uninspired directing and lack of substance and trajectory in story instantly make it a dull film to watch. Even for its targeted crowd, the screenplay is more limited than it wishes to be in what it has to offer and consequently places a greater reliance on forming an interest in and affinity for the various characters in this movie. Luckily, they aren’t difficult people to be in the company of for an hour and a half. Particularly the impulsive and very cheeky Mano, who steals almost every scene she appears. 

Should you manage to feel a similar way to this, then I GOT LIFE! won’t find itself in too much strife.

3 stars

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Viewer Discretion
M(Sex, coarse language and brief nudity)

Trailer
I GOT LIFE! (AURORE)

Moviedoc thanks Palace Films for the invite to the screening of this film

Review by Leigh for Moviedoc
Follow on Twitter – Moviedoc / LIKE on Facebook – @moviedoc13

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LOVELESS

Director
Andrey Zvyagintsev
(LEVIATHAN, ELENA, THE RETURN)

Stars
Aleksey Rozin, Maryana Spivak, Matvey Novikov, Marina Vasilyeva and Andris Keišs

Very few filmmakers are capable of sharing stories that are prominent in their corner of the world and making them truly resonate globally in such a powerful manner that is consistent in each of their films. Usually, in the face of adversity, oppression and/or with some form of backlash post-release as a consequence too. Those of you who appreciate foreign-language cinema will be familiar with writing and directing talents such as Asghar Farhadi (THE SALESMAN and A SEPARATION, which are both Best Foreign Film Oscar Winners) and Fatih Akin (Responsible for this year’s excellent German dramatic thriller, IN THE FADE and HEAD-ON). If you’ve not done so already, add Russian writer and director Andrey Zvyagintsev to that prestigious shortlist. His follow-up to the excellent 2014 drama LEVIATHAN could only be produced in Russia with international financial support after the Russian government disapproved of that film.

In LOVELESS, bickering married couple Zhenya and Boris (very convincingly performed by Maryana Spivak and Aleksey Rozin) remain living under the same roof as they attempt to finalise their divorce while selling their large apartment. So caught up in their own heightened emotions and seeking separate ways of escape from one another, Zhenya and Boris fail to observe the impact their ongoing fighting is having on their only child, Alyosha (Matvey Novikov). When their son goes missing, Zhenya and Boris must try to put their irreconcilable differences aside as they search for Aloysha, with the assistance of a group of good-willed volunteers.

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As you may have fathomed, the disintegration of a rocky marriage and the subsequent search for a missing person is merely a basis for writer and director Andrey Zvyagintsev to delve into the actual concerns that are expertly articulated in LOVELESS.

This 2018 Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language Picture, which did win the Jury Prize at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival and Best Film in London at their 2017 Film Festival, is outstandingly structured and boasts a script that is thematically limitless to its audience. Exactly as intended, Zvyagintsev has fascinatingly incorporated numerous eye-opening insights into the mundanities of daily life in this part of Russia and surrounding certain protocols followed when a personal tragedy strikes. Regardless of whether it’s simply a few individual scenes that are devoted to their purpose or is an intrinsic part of this film’s narrative, each observation made is highly relevant and likely personal to you in some way. This unyielding connection to LOVELESS is already strongly formed well before young Alyosha vanishes with barely a trace.

Though its themes assume a more underlying progression from here on, unlike Zhenya and Boris’s son, they never disappear. Several stunning exchanges of dialogue between the divorcing couple and what their cruel words represent, the clear lack of empathy and dismissive temperament on display from local law enforcers and an escalating fear to expect the worst outcome from the search ensure that LOVELESS is as gripping to watch as it is driven a film.

A strong 4 stars. Highly recommended!

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Viewer Discretion
MA15+ (Strong sex scenes)

Trailer
LOVELESS

Moviedoc thanks Palace Films for the invite to the screening of this film

Review by Leigh for Moviedoc
Follow on Twitter – Moviedoc / LIKE on Facebook – @moviedoc13

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THE SQUARE

Writer & Director
Ruben Östlund
(FORCE MAJUERE)

Stars
Claes Bang, Elisabeth Moss, Dominic West and Christopher Læssø

Before entering THE SQUARE, you have two possible ways to view this Best Foreign Language Picture Oscar contender. See it squarely without any preconceptions and inner-thoughts or closely observe and analyse each of its ambiguous sides. Regardless of your selection, this 2017 Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or winner deliberately subjects its audience to numerous forms of unconventional behaviour as it gradually tears apart the professional and personal life of its lead character, Christian (played by Claes Bang). He is the curator of art at the Museum of Stockholm who is planning a new exhibit, that unbeknown to him, is going to attract a mountain of controversy. As Christian’s work project progresses, an awry interview with Anne (Elizabeth Moss) and a particular incident that results with some of Christian’s private items being stolen, begin the unravelling of his reputation, career and life.


You have never seen a man’s life come undone in quite as bizarre and uniquely hilarious fashion as Christian’s demise unfolds in THE SQUARE. This non-dramatic mid-life collapse is just the backdrop, however, for the gloriously written screenplay to outline an unspecified number of themes and set-up a plentiful supply of superbly executed scenarios. These sequences extract intense curiosity from viewers with each one becoming increasingly suspenseful, just by way of the sheer unpredictability of their conclusions and their unsettling awkwardness. Another undoubtedly outstanding attribute of THE SQUARE is the realisation and representation of its thematic and sub-thematic content. Much of what can be recognised by viewers and the meaning behind its many eventualities is completely open to individual interpretation. As are certain developments during its conclusion. One of THE SQUARE’S more obvious elements is how each component of the screenplay cleverly plays a part in Christian’s downfall. So too are a few of its scenarios that will not only NEVER be erased from the memory but remain iconic in years to come. Need further convincing? You will struggle to find a more bizarre pre and post sexual encounter than the one had here. And you’ll never forget the performance artist who “entertains” affluent patrons at an event in the museum.


Whether it’s the truthful and irresistibly amusing mockery of art you’ll savour, an over-analysis of the vast thematic content on offer that you will devour or no particularly tangible takeaways you’ll have obtained throughout its couple of hours, THE SQUARE is indisputably thinking outside of the square in its clear efforts to stun, enthral and unnerve its customers.

4 stars

Viewer Discretion
MA15+ (Strong coarse language)

Trailer
THE SQUARE

Moviedoc thanks Sharmill Films for the invite to the screening of this film.

Review by Leigh for Moviedoc
Follow on Twitter – Moviedoc / LIKE on Facebook – @moviedoc13

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THE WOUND (INXEBA)

Director
John Trengove
(HOPEVILLE)

Stars
Nakhane Tourè, Niza Jay Ncoyini and Bongile Mantsai

The most internationally awarded film in South African history has been subject to plenty of controversy in the lead up to its cinematic release. Several screenings of THE WOUND have been forcibly cancelled in its homeland, due to threats of violence and damage to property. So what’s the cause for its controversy? 

In a double-whammy for protesters of this film, THE WOUND is exhibiting to the world the very private and traditional Xhosa initiation into manhood as it deals with the theme of sexuality led by gay male characters. 

Celebrated singer, songwriter and novelist, Nakhane Touré, makes his screen acting debut as Xolani, a factory worker living in Queenstown who is sent to the rural Eastern Cape to be the caregiver for a new initiate named Kwanda (Niza Jay Ncoyini). The initiate’s father has a private word with Xolani, requesting him to be tough on his son, who he feels is becoming a softie due to the gentle treatment given by his mother. Throughout the course of the lengthy initiation process, Xolani struggles to mask his sexual identity from his observant initiate.

 Almost the entire hour and a half duration of THE WOUND is set throughout the several phases that consist of this traditional induction into manhood. As such and as very much intended, viewers will feel equally uncomfortable, fascinated and disturbed by the honest insights that have been bravely derived from the screenplay. Most of this footage is filmed with the use of handheld and effectively-controlled cinematography that truly captures a feeling of isolation within its confines its lead characters undoubtedly feel. What is also equally effective are the genuine performances from the main members of the cast, most of whom are first-time actors that had direct experiences of this initiation!

This incredibly courageous film not only accumulated a record-breaking nineteen award wins from worldwide film festivals it screened at, it was also shortlisted as one of nine films to be nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2018 Academy Awards. Though it was cut from the final list of nominees, THE WOUND has loudly, clearly and successfully utilised the power of cinema by giving a triumphant voice to a minority who are not only silenced but completely denounced. Until now.

4 stars 

See THE WOUND if you liked MOONLIGHT

Viewer Discretion
MA15+ (Strong themes and sex scenes)

Trailer
THE WOUND (INXEBA)

Moviedoc thanks In Character/Off Topic Entertainment for the invite to the screening of this film.

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