Jojo Rabbit, Waves review – London Film Festival 2019 Final Reviews

Overwhelmed with the sheer amount of films that played at the BFI London Film Festival 2019, I have decided to review them all in one go. So, below are reviews for all the films that have yet to go up on the site and in addition to the festival films, there are a few bonus new-releases reviewed.

Jojo Rabbit

Jojo Rabbit is an infectiously wonderful, hilarious and touching film. Absolutely marvelous in all aspects. The hilarity levels soar to extraordinary heights, Taika’s wit is on top-form and never stops. Additionally, the direction and distinct style of quirk is outstandingly unique, although somewhat reminiscent of Wes Anderson. Taika is an unstoppable force as Hitler, Jojo’s imaginary friend, he adds a further level of extreme absurdity that adds to every scene. Thomasin McKenzie is back after delivering 2018’s best performance (in Leave No Trace) with a perfectly subtle and charming piece of work, she is the perfect counterpoint to Roman Griffith’s naively innocent Jojo. It’s one of the best films of the year and might just be the funniest.

5/5 Stars ★★★★★

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Official Secrets

Official Secrets sees Gavin Hood on seriously outstanding form, directing this insanely gripping film on par with the brilliance that was Spielberg’s The Post. Based upon the infuriating story of America and Britain’s illegal actions of war and our nations failure to act upon these illegal acts. It is extraordinary. Based in realism, you connect to the cast and their excellent realistic portrayals – Keira Knightley is at her very best. Official Secrets is suspenseful, enraging and one of the best political films ever made.

5/5 Stars ★★★★★

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The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão

Utterly sincere and heart-breaking, The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão is a striking film based on the separation of two sisters. You feel that rift and need to reunite, Karim Aïnouz directs Brazil’s Best International Film choice for this year’s Oscars to terrific extent. He is able to incredibly craft a film full of brilliant performances, riveting emotion and subtle nuance.

5/5 Stars ★★★★★

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Waves

Waves is breathtaking, heartbreaking and most importantly, real. Trey Edward Shultz’s latest is soaring in visuals, you will bathe in it’s utterly symphonic glory. Yet, whilst it’s fantastic for the most part, it hits a barrier and drops in its final act. It loses some of its narrative flow and it seems the story’s final ideas never come together, it ends on a mixed-up and rather confused note. The cast are equally excellent and whilst its a sublime watch, it has vivid flaws.

4/5 Stars ★★★★

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The Two Popes

The Two Popes is fantastic. Meirelles returns with a film that never fails to lose intrigue, it’s sometimes riveting, touching and quite hilarious. Oscar nominated director Fernando Meirelles brings his City of God-like touch in direction to this unsuspecting suspect and it works remarkably. One of the best edited films this year, a neat mix of prompted cuts aid Meirelles’ special directional style to create something quite special and rather neat. Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce get lost in their respective Pope roles, both speaking a vast-range of foreign dialects, it’s something to truly look at in wonder.

4/5 Stars ★★★★

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The Lodge

A curious film. The Lodge is a lot to stomach due to the heavy use of ambiguity and psychological undertones. It’s a film that barks to be examined and watched again. Nevertheless, the directors of Goodnight Mommy have produced another work of brilliance. Shocking, suspenseful and one of the most chilling films of the year, it truly gets under your skin. Riley Keogh once more proves to be one of Hollywood’s finest underappreciated performers, she is lost within her role.

4/5 Stars ★★★★

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Sid & Judy

As a self-pronounced Judy Garland fanatic, I like many others have admired her life and career, a fascinating person and the world’s greatest entertainer. Sid & Judy is a mesmerising documentary detailing Garland’s career and life, it’s truly dazzling. A celebration of her life with the addition and help of her husband, Sid, the film looks into her ups and downs with great style and admiration.

4/5 Stars ★★★★

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Harriet

Harriet is breathtaking and truly inspiring. Tears will flow as director Kasi Lemmons gets you to route for the extreme bravery of one American hero. Cynthia Erivo gets lost, her nomination is waiting, wonderfully powerful stuff. It’s sincere and noble in its intentions and never sways from its vision. Additionally, Erivo is backed by a top-notch supporting cast, including Janelle Monae and The Wire’s Clarke Peters.  

4/5 Stars ★★★★

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Judy & Punch

Judy & Punch is extremely captivating. A witch-like tale with Mia Wasikowska taking on a performance that could perhaps rival Crimson Peak. Herriman reminds of The Nightingale, he is darkly great and twisted in his now-common go-to role. Excellent execution and a captivating story make it great and clear influence from Guillermo Del Toro is seen in its dark fairytale approach.

3.5/5 Stars (★★★.5)

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Earthquake Bird

Earthquake Bird is quiet, beautiful and yet sometimes very tense. Wash Westmoreland has done it again, it’s a intimate film with a terrifically inwards performance from Alicia Vikander. Also, Riley Keogh is fantastic as usual. Set in Japan, influenced and infused in film noir there is something quite hypnotic to the experience. Wash Westmoreland’s delicate touch allows for a mass of tension and intrigue as the narrative simmers along.

3.5/5 Stars (★★★.5)

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The Aeronauts

Led by the brilliant Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, The Aeronauts is a visually harrowing film that plunges you into fear. Whilst it works on an acting and spectatorship standpoint, it lacks largely in coherence between past and present, it feels dragged along. Tom Hooper’s direction and accompanying visuals terrify, with them partially shooting ridiculous stunts in the sky, it really gets to your nerves about heights. It succeeds to chill your core, but lacks in an overall well-crafted narrative.

3/5 Stars ★★★

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Additional non-London Film Festival catch-up reviews:

Judy

Judy broke me. Wonder, joy, melancholy and hope, these are the words that describe Renée’s stupendously charming performance and the film as a whole. Along with Judy’s last years we get flashbacks to her time around 1939 working on The Wizard of Oz – every young Judy (Darci Shaw is tremendous) scene is something to adore. So intimate and beautifully shot, you can’t help but be in awe of the sensually charming flashbacks whilst revering Meyer’s cruel tactics on a young Judy Garland. I adore Judy Garland just like I adore this film and the flaws I thought it had, on reflection are necessary points in Judy’s story.

5/5 Stars ★★★★★

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Dolemite is my Name

Funktastic and soulful, Dolemite is my Name is bombastic thrill. Brimming with joy, passion and energy, Eddie Murphy is back and on fire. A meta-film in that we spectate this film about making a film, you can’t but be absorbed into Craig Brewer’s infectious film. Every second is an absolute blast. It’s ridiculously outlandish, absurd and just, seriously funny.

5/5 Stars ★★★★★

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The Addams Family

The Addams Family is a hilariously wonderful film. It will have you smiling the whole way through, complete nostalgia and kookiness shine in this new animated extravaganza. It’s a terrific entry into The Addams Family catalog, utilising the uncanny-valley effect of its animation to great effect in its ability to warp the looks of its family.

4/5 Stars ★★★★

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Ready or Not

Premiering in London at this year’s Frightfest, Ready or Not is a stupendously chilling, riveting and crazy horror. Samara Weaving is revolutionary, she has a poignantly funny and yet-so-serious presence. Directed with style and panache, Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin add an elegance to the inherent ridiculousness of some of the setups.

4/5 Stars ★★★★

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Hustlers

Hustlers is a surprisingly good film, it’s nothing outstanding but far beats expectations from it’s horrible marketing. Jennifer Lopez and Lili Reinhart are the standouts, they steal every scene their in. Starting off very conventional and rather surface-level, the film branches away from it’s inherent archetypes to proceed to be a film of more depth. What makes the film work is its focus on character, the relationships between friends and family.

3/5 Stars ★★★

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Terminator: Dark Fate

Dark Fate is nothing compared to the original Terminator, yet, its still pretty good and somewhat enjoyable. At times the action wears a little thin with its repetitive hunting nature. Conventional in narrative and overuse of CGI, that’s where the film’s main flaws lie. Little flair is seen from Deadpool director Tim Miller, which is unfortunate. However, the very best of the film is seen in the performances of Schwarzernegger and Hamilton, they provide a back structure in balancing the not-so-convincing Natalia Reyes. It’s a fine Terminator film, but nothing special.

3/5 Stars ★★★

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Reviews written by Ben Rolph, Head Film Editor

FILM TWEETS & REACTIONS @THEDCTVSHOW ON TWITTER

 

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