Toronto Film Fest: Margot at the Wedding, Nothing is Private Reviews
Two films showing people at their nastiest.Margot at the Wedding (in theaters November 16): Like how Life Aquatic paraded the worst habits of Wes Anderson, Margot at the Wedding brings out writer/director Noah Baumbach's misanthropy at its most unsalvageable. Nicole Kidman stars as Margot, who journeys from Manhattan to rural suburbia for her sister Pauline's wedding. A breakdown in virtually every relationship involved ensues. Baumbach's a master at writing small, poignant scenes, but edit them all together and the Margot struggles to be more than an ugly volley of self-analysis, emotional violence, and neurosis. Watching the movie has a sum negative effect: Baumbach got me invested in his characters but since he doesn't even bother directing them towards any resolution, one can feel energy and effort dissipate from the body, wasted.
Nothing is Private: Now here's how you make a misanthropic movie. Six Feet Under and American Beauty writer Alan Ball makes his directorial debut with Nothing is Private, whose reputation as Toronto's most subversive film is well-deserved. Adapted from the novel Towelhead, it focuses on the growing pains of 13 year old Jasira, who is groped, raped, and routinely abused, emotionally and physically, throughout the course of the movie. And, yes, this is a comedy. Ball shows much of its subject matter in graphic, wincing detail, though the jokes don't come cheaply and you never feel too bad for laughing. Nothing is Private, unfortunately, crumbles a bit at the end when it starts vilifying characters, something Ball had expertly avoided up to that point. But I guess a movie about racism, pedophilia, and child abuse can't be all fun and games.
Warner Independent Pictures picked this up during the festival, and will release it next year.