Interesting week: A light but charming romantic comedy, a neat documentary, a powerful Senegalese film, an unexpectedly good Japanese film noir, a disappointing Japanese comedy, a crackerjack French gangster film — and a stunningly good German film by way of Australia.
Best Film: Lore. See it. Please. It’s a great film.
Best Director: Cate Shortland (Lore).
Best Script: Cate Shortland and Robin Mukherjee (Lore). It’s difficult to separate the script from the direction, but the film’s moral and dramatic subtlety clearly originated on the page.
Best Performance: Saskia Rosendahl (Lore). She’s in every scene of the film and presents her character’s struggles and maturation without actorly embellishment. Honorary mention to Jean-Pierre Léaud, who brings unusual romantic charm to Stolen Kisses.
Best Moment: The final five minutes of Lore. As end of the movie drew near, I worried that Shortland wouldn’t find an appropriate ending. In fact, the understated power of the film’s conclusion moves into rarefied territory. A young woman’s moral evolution rendered with beautiful subtlety and impact.
Best Use of Visuals or Technique: Cate Shortland fills Lore with impressionistic visuals that are tremendously effective at conveying subjective experience. For a specific scene, though, the nod goes to Le Cercle Rouge. The long, silent heist sequence is mesmerizingly tense and beautifully orchestrated — on a par with the similarly riveting jewelry store job in Rififi.
Biggest Surprises: The Japanese film noir Intimidation and the Chinese documentary Please Vote For Me were pleasant surprises. More than I expected out of both. The Japanese comedy Key of Life on the other hand raises the possibility that I’m just no fun — the audience was filled with chuckling people, whereas I found the humor flat and obvious and barely cracked a smile. And I can’t end without mentioning La Pirogue, about Senegalese migrants on an ill-fated sea voyage. In another week, it might have been the best film.