Berlin Film Festival: Day 7 - And then… it was time for ‘Unsane’.
Posted 7 March 2018
I finally managed to see ‘Gordon & Paddy’ this morning,
a charming Swedish animation with Stellan Skarsgård providing the voice of an
elderly police toad called Gordon on the hunt for a nut thief. What’s not to
like? It was a bit of an odd experience listening to the Swedish with a German
voiceover and then having English subtitles at the bottom, so I couldn’t fully
immerse myself in it, but the animation was soft and warm and easy to fall in
love with. I was also sat in a cinema full of young school children, whose
laughter was so infectious I left the screen with a big smile on my face.
After hearing good things from Sundance, I
went along to Jospehine Decker’s ‘Madeline’s Madeline’ and have to say, it’s
probably one of the best films I’ve seen at the festival so far (I only just
managed to squeeze into a packed press screening thanks to my market badge!).
Helena Howard as Madeline is an absolute knock-out in this, delivering an
incredible performance as a 16-year-old who experiences mood swings and
delusions. Decker delves into the world of experimental theatre to present a
coming-of-age story in an exhilarating way (I don’t want to give too much
away!) and I know I’ll be thinking about this one for a while.
Continuing with stories of young women, ‘Virus Tropical’ is
an adaptation of a graphic novel by Columbian-Ecuadorian Paola Gaviria (AKA
Power Paola). The drawings themselves are an impressive mix of styles and
detail that give the film a rough and punky edge to match its strong female
characters. That said, the story wanders off in various directions without
pulling enough out of its few significant moments, which makes it difficult to
really invest in the different characters. This was another screening followed
by a Q&A, with the director, author and soundtrack composer and it was
great to hear lots of questions from the younger women in the audience,
especially aspiring filmmakers and artists.
And then… it was time for ‘Unsane’. I’d managed to get one
of the last tickets for the premiere, which meant I was at the very top of the
Berlinale Palast - nosebleed territory! ‘Unsane’ is a cheery little
iPhone romp from master of the mixed bag, Steven Soderbergh. I was more
unsettled by the prospect of walking back to the apartment at midnight than the
film, so I was pleasantly surprised to jump out of my skin a couple of times,
along with the rest of the audience (this made the walk back worse). However, I
found the film to be a painful mess from beginning to end that treads such a
well-worn horror-thriller path that I forgot about it being shot on iPhones
within about 5 minutes, thinking ‘this just looks bad’. Still…I don’t mind a
predictable jump-scare every now and again and it’s the kind of film I’d
probably stick on again if I didn’t want to watch anything too demanding.