Rules Don’t Apply (M) Limited release Things to Come (L’avenir) (M) Limited release Bad Girl (MA15+) Limited release Bad Girl, under contract, vainly awaiting screen tests, let alone an actual role in a movie. Marla’s driver, Frank Forbes (Alden Ehrenreich) has never met his boss either, and he’s conscious of the strict “no dating” rule imposed on Hughes staff.
The problem with the film is, while it’s filled with deliciously intriguing details about Hughes and his peculiar behaviour, it has difficulty settling on a coherent mood. Hughes as a character is more interesting than the problems of the young people and more might have been made of the minions who carried out his bidding, given that they’re played by a stellar collection of actors including Alec Baldwin, Candice Bergen, Matthew Broderick and Martin Sheen. At this stage of his life Hughes, a qualified pilot, insisted on flying his own planes and there’s an amusing but rather irrelevant sequence set over London involving Steve Coogan.
There are so many details to savour in this beautifully produced film that it’s all the more regrettable that it doesn’t quite coalesce into a satisfying whole. Just like the celebrated early talkie that Hughes directed, Hell’s Angels (1930), it’s a combination of the really very good and the disappointingly mundane. Isabelle Huppert keeps getting better and better. Hard on the heels of her great performance in Paul Verhoeven’s Elle comes her portrayal of a middle-aged academic in Mia Hansen-Love’s thoughtful, delicate Things to Come, winner of the best director prize last year in Berlin.
I can’t imagine a film such as this being made anywhere but France. It’s set in the world of intellectuals living in book-lined apartments and it deals honestly and with a great deal of emotional truth in subjects such as infidelity, illness and family ties. Huppert plays Nathalie, who teaches philosophy and lives comfortably with her husband, Heinz (Andre Marcon), while worrying about her aged mother (Edith Scob). Her children are grown up and have moved away and, though she was once a radical herself, she finds herself no longer in tune with the concerns of many of her students and even crosses a picket line during a strike at the university.
During the course of the film, Nathalie undergoes a series of crises and finds herself increasingly alone and alienated. Yet HansenYoung, who is very good at this sort of thing, is no pessimist, and she concludes her film on a nod to “l’avenir” (“the future”, referring to the film’s original title). In Bad Girl, a West Australian film from writerdirector Fin Edquist, Sara West plays Amy, a surly teenager who reluctantly accompanies the couple who have adopted her to their new home outside the city. Her parents, Michelle (Felicity Price) and Peter (Ben Winspear), are resigned to the fact Amy is behaving badly but they don’t know that she has arranged to run away from the place she describes to a friend on the phone as being “like North Korea”.
Her escape is frustrated — the friend who was going to collect her fails to show up — but instead she meets Chloe (Samara Weaving, niece of Hugo Weaving), a “nice” girl whose parents live on a nearby farm. The pair become friends but, more than that, there’s a sexual attraction between them. Amy wants to locate her real parents and Chloe offers to help her.
The film starts well, with an intriguing setup and solid performances all around. There’s a major twist in store, and for a while Edquist — whose background is in children’s films — keeps the viewer guessing in a most satisfying way. But towards the end the plot becomes wildly unconvincing as it all goes a bit crazy, with yet another twist and a dose of murder and mayhem.
The film is very well made, with Gavin John Head’s wide-screen photography a model of its kind and a nicely creepy music score by Warren Ellis. There’s a lot of talent on display here, but the screenplay would have benefited from a bit more work to make the increasingly incredible developments that occur in the late stages a bit less fanciful.
above; Samara Weaving and Sara West in left
Lily Collins and Alden Ehrenreich in Rules Don’t Apply
Isabelle Huppert in Things to Come,