In Review: The World to Come

Mona Fastvold has mounted an exquisitely crafted sophomore feature with The World to Come, the tale of two married women in the early American frontier who find love and solace from the confines upon them. Structured by diary entries, Fastvold takes a lyrical approach to a dire story that echoes into modern times like a tender, warning reminder. She depicts a not-so-distant time when harrowing medicine was documented plainly, where there was little room for feeling lest you derail your own means of survival, where the interior lives of women were excised. But as much as Fastvold’s thematic observations feel like removing a bandage from a still festering wound, it also swoons with the divine release that comes from unexpected, consuming, necessary love.

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In Review: Land

Seldom is cinematic grief drawn as starkly as Robin Wright paints it in Land, her feature directorial debut in which she also stars. As Edee, Wright crafts a state of being where loss is something to sit in, a chair to perch in and look out to the vastness of your own private pain. Edee has retreated to the mountains, staring out into their abyss as her grief evolves with them (and the cabin she rehabs) to the turn of the seasons. She cannot see anything but her suffering. Not the traffic of the city, not reminders of her past. Certainly not other people.

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In Review: Supernova

Writer-director Harry Macqueen’s Supernova opens with images soothingly catalog-ready. Long-time lovers Sam and Tusker (Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci, respectively) awake tangled in their duvet, tasteful sidebutt sold separately. They start a trek across an idyllic English countryside equipped with sensible sweaters and David Bowie’s “Heroes” softly on the stereo of their hip retro RV. The incoming emotional pain of their short journey is captured in docile tones and full Instagram-friendly splendour. That’s not just British Isle fog hovering just over the beautiful surface in Supernova, it’s the bar for gay cinema being kept as low (and superficial) as possible.

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In Review: The Climb

On-screen male friendship is well-tread material in revealing the exploits of compulsively bad men. In Husbands, John Cassavettes detailed toxic male behavior to spiritually and physically exhaustive extent, mining deep pathologies about how men goad and bolster their worst impulses in the name of friendship. Todd Phillips’ The Hangover series reflected all of the misogyny and violence of the very worst kind of bro-y male bonds, and aggressively condoned them. The problem with The Climb, Michael Angelo Covino’s debut feature, is that it thinks it’s the former with the dry wit, but it’s actually the latter with a straight face.

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In Review: Ammonite

After delivering a stifled and stoic romance with God’s Own Country, Francis Lee returns with a film that is largely similar to his previous effort. Ammonite is a new closeted duet mired in harsh natural elements and punctuated with hungered sexual catharsis., and centered on a protagonist of few words. Again, Lee makes an unfeeling physical world to embody the limitations faced by gay people in a straight world; here it’s all crashing waves, frozen stone, and shaly mud. But Ammonite takes us back nearly two hundred years, offering a fictionalized account of paleontologist Mary Anning (Kate Winslet) and a love affair with the married Charlotte Murchison (Saoirse Ronan).

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