David Strat­ton

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Film Reviews -

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,

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