By Leslie C. Halpern
The 27th Annual Florida Film Festival, produced by Enzian Theater and held throughout Central Florida from April 6-15, 2018, offers nearly 200 narrative features and documentary short films from countries around the world, in addition to celebrity guests, special events, film forums, film sidebars, parties, and the American Independent Competition. A sampling of narrative features capsule reviews appears below.
Back to Burgundy
In the Food Films Sidebar. In French, Spanish, and English with English subtitles. Narrative Feature. Screens April 7, 2018 at 1:30 p.m. at Regal Winter Park Village.
This heartfelt narrative drama captures the intoxicating ambiance of the French vineyard where most of the film was shot. Jean’s father drove him away from home with his cold criticism, and now 10 years later his father draws him back. The return visit has far more significance than the departure, because his father is dying. As his father’s life ends, Jean’s new life begins. The oldest of three children – all bequeathed the house and vineyard equally – Jean must decide if he wants to stay, rent, or sell his stake in the long-time family business. Using this time to sort out his feelings for his siblings, his relationship to his father, and the separation from his wife and their child, Jean is faced with important decisions, and this time he can’t just run away. Lush, rich, and layered, this film features beautiful cinematography, delightful performances, and a story worth telling. Enjoy it with a glass of wine.
- Directed by Cedric Klapisch
- Stars Pio Marmai, Ana Girardot, Francois Civil, Jean-March Roulot, Maria Valverde
- Run time: 113 minutes
- MPAA rating: Not Rated
- 4 / 5
In Spotlight Films. Narrative Feature. In English and Swedish. Screens April 8, 2018 at 8:30 p.m. and April 15, 2018 at 3:00 p.m., both at Regal Winter Park Village.
This sports drama begins as a character study of Bjorn Borg (Sverrir Gudnason), the cool controlled tennis phenomenon from Sweden. Flashbacks reveal how he learned to suppress his emotions, which now threaten to undermine his 1980 attempt to maintain his place as the top-ranked tennis player in the world. Ultimately pitted against the hot-tempered American tennis sensation, John McEnroe (Shia LaBeouf), both men need to keep their emotions in check to master their opponent. The two actors seem perfectly suited for their roles – both emotionally and physically, they fully embody their volatile and athletic characters. The background story on Borg is interesting, as is his troubled relationship with his girlfriend, and McEnroe’s explosive temper tantrums establish his personality. However, by far the most engrossing part of this film is the Wimbledon championship as Borg attempts to achieve a record-breaking fifth-straight win.
- Directed by Janus Metz
- Stars Shia LaBeouf, Sverrir Gudnason, Stellan Skarsgard
- Run time: 107 minutes
- MPAA Rating R
- 3.5 / 5
In the American Independent Competition. Narrative Feature. Screens April 9, 2018 at 8:45 p.m. and April 13, 2018 at 1:30 p.m., both at Regal Winter Park Village.
Although sexual feelings – particularly same-sex feelings – are the obvious focus of this film, deeper problems surface as the story slowly progresses. Set in a secluded house for a weekend-long bachelorette party, this film starts out as a low-budget lesbian version of Bridesmaids, (complete with the coarse Melissa McCarthy character, only this time played by Ever Mainard). There’s jealousy, tension, doubt, lies, and hurt feelings among the entire wedding party, including the token male (Josh Fadem), a platonic friend who longs for more. Brief “interviews” with each character shed some light on the early sexual experiences that shaped their current status. Several improvised scenes combined with a slow-moving script delay the important discussions until the final third of the movie. Until then, it’s mostly scenes of sexual innuendo, alcohol consumption, and drugs intended to be comical, but not quite hitting the mark.
- Directed by Jenee LaMarque
- Stars Constance Wu, Josh Fadem, Jenee LaMarque, Angela Trimbur, Ever Mainard
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA Rating: Not Rated
- 2.5 / 5
For a complete list of films and to learn more about the Florida Film Festival, visit the official website.