Two Mothers visual dexterity does not save it from poor scripting
My first full day at Sundance and the films - Two Mothers, Mud, The Moo Man and Newlyweeds - were all about relationships, good and bad - and not just within the films themselves. At the Q&A after the premiere of Two Mothers, a member of the audience asked director Anne Fontaine if there was anything that surprised her when she was watching the movie this time around.
Her candid, and rather unfortunate, answer was: "The laughter. It was as if it was a comedy more or less, it was very strange... I don't know what it means exactly."
What it means, exactly, is that despite her best efforts behind the camera, which display a strong eye for visual storytelling, the script of the film is, in places, laughable. The blame doubtless lies with someone other than Fontaine whose English, although perfectly fine, is probably not sufficiently fluent to pick up the clonkiness in the dialogue almost every step of the way. Read my full review here.
Matthew McConnaughey's rejuvenation continues in Jeff Nichols' Mud
Nichols is particularly good at catching the idealism of the young, when true love can strike like a lightning bolt and should surely last for life. He also holds the idea of father and son relationships up to the light and probes it from all angles. it joins crackers such as Stand By Me and Son Of Rambow in the category of film that is written about children but is not necessarily intended for them to watch, exploring what it means to move from youthful idealism to adult pragmatism whether you like it or not.
Newlyweeds Photo: Daniel Patterson
The most unusual relationship I saw yesterday lies at the heart of excellent British documentary The Moo Man, which charts a year in the life of dairy stockman Stephen Hook and his herd. Director Andy Heathcote perfectly captures the everyday challenges, defeats and victories that make up Hook's life as an organic, 'raw' milk producer. Hook talks to his animals - around 75 in all - and has names for each of the 'ladies' in his herd. He outlines the importance of good husbandry but also the economic realities of running a farm in Britain today and the ever-present threat of TB. Heathcote pays attention and isn't scared to stand and watch while something happens, whether its the long and difficult birth of a calf or Hook's attempts to get his queen of the herd Ida back in the horsebox after a day's photoshoot in Eastbourne. We share his victories and even shed a tear. Moo-ving.
This Is Martin Bonner
As far as my relationships with the films went on Day one proper, I'd say three are keepers.