This weekend ASFF selects five new films from across Europe and America that will be making it onto UK screens. Ranging from historical tales to psychological dramas to contemporary indies, these films cover a diverse slate of themes – everything from loneliness and martial breakdown to grief and parental longing.
Jim Cummings’ expands his short film, in which he played a grief-stricken police officer eulogising at his mother’s funeral by singing Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Thunder Road’, into a full-on feature. Reprising the character of Officer Jim Arnaud, Cummings digs into a deep well of despair as he shows a man at breaking point. An unexpected character drama, driven by a virtuoso performance by Cummings, this is a unique one-off American indie.
Hungarian filmmaker László Nemes, who directed the searing Oscar-winner Son on Saul, returns with Sunset. Another work punctuated by Nemes’ long tracking shots, it stars Juli Jakab as Irisz Leiter, a young woman who arrives in Budapest in 1913, shortly before the outbreak of World War I, whose search for work at the department store once owned by her parents turns into a quest for her long-lost brother. Documenting the fall of the Austro-Hungarian empire, it’s a bleak and oblique portrait that Nemes paints.
The ever-versatile Octavia Spencer reunites with filmmaker Tate Taylor, the man who directed her to an Oscar in The Help. This is somewhat different terrain, a psychological drama that sees Spencer play Sue Ann, a lonely Ohio-based veterinary aide who befriends a group of teenagers who she gradually becomes obsessed by. Co-stars include Juliette Lewis, fellow Oscar-winner Allison Janey and Luke Evans, who featured in Taylor’s adaptation of The Girl on the Train.
Based on a novel by Spanish writer José Luis Sampedro, the evergreen Brian Cox stars as a cranky Scot in this affecting comedy-drama. Directed by Israeli pair Mihal Brezis and Oded Binnun, the film plays with the age-old fish-out-of-water theme, as Cox’s Rory MacNeil travels to San Francisco for a health check where he reconnects (or doesn’t) with his son (JJ Feild) and daughter-in-law (Thora Birch), not exactly getting on with their swanky ways.
A well-rounded French drama, Jeanne Henry’s drama deals with the adoption system. Alice (Élodie Bouchez, who made such an impression all those years ago in The Dreamlife of Angels) is a 41 year-old divorcee desperate for a child of her own. Co-starring Gilles Lellouche and Sandrine Kiberlain, as the interim carer and welfare officer whose stories intertwine with Alice’s, the film follows the oft-painful process of a child being given up for adoption and taken on by another.
All films released by 31 May.
1. Still from Ma.