TIFF 2022 – Day Six
by Thom Ernst – Film Corresepondent
(September 13, 2022 – Toronto, ON) It’s not officially a Canadian film, it might not even be an unofficial Canadian film, but you can’t ignore the homegrown roots of Women Talking, one of the most celebrated movies at this year’s festival. Brad Pitt is listed as one of the producers, so the most significant portion of the tab was likely paid with money featuring the faces of American Presidents. But the roots of Women Talking are all Canadian.
Director Sarah Polley helms the story from a novel by Canadian author Miriam Toews. And though there is a distinguished cast of recognizable non-Canadian actors: Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Ben Whishaw, and Frances McDormand, there are also our homegrown stars, actors Elliot Page, Sheila McCarthy, and Michelle McCleod. Women Talking showcases some of the best performances likely to be seen all year. The story concerns a group of Mennonite women plotting the fate of themselves and their children after vicious sexual attacks (males of the order administrate a tranquilizer mist while the girls sleep) that have left the young girls of the order injured and impregnated. The dialogue is fierce and explosive, driving the film’s action. Whether transcribed from Toews’ original text or interpreted by Polley, the script is a dizzying display of gender politics and proof the right words placed in the correct order is a thing of beauty and immense power. From the author to the director to performances, Women Talking is why we pay attention to artists. Not to be missed. Women Talking gets a first public screening at 6:30 pm in the Visa Screening Room at the Princess of Wales Theatre.
The Young Arsonist is the debut feature from director Sheila Pye. Her vision of a small rural working-class town is seen through the eyes of four teenage girls who squat in the abandoned home of one of the girl’s deceased aunts. Making their own home seems to be the first step towards becoming self-sufficient and successfully separating from a home life that is, in various ways, traumatic for each of them. Pye offers some stunning images evoking memory and loss in a single shot. But far too often, the story strays into areas riffed with broad archetypes, with one character the bullish leader and another the scapegoat. There is little surprise here for anyone who regularly attends the movies, but the feature does reveal a director with promise. The Young Arsonists screens at 6:15 pm at Scotiabank Theatre Toronto
Also screening today:
Viking, screening at 11:45 am at Scotiabank Theatre Toronto is an absurd sardonic tale about five people simulating (perhaps speculating) the effects of astronauts traveling to Mars.
Riceboy Sleeps screens at 3:45 pm at Scotiabank Theatre Toronto.
Falcon Lake (review appears tomorrow) screens at 6:30 pm at Scotiabank Theatre Toronto.
Women Talking 6:30 pm at Visa Screening Room at the Princess of Wales Theatre.
The festival continues its hybrid shenanigans with digital screenings. You can stream director Joseph Amenta’s Soft (aka the film formerly called Pussy) and directors Tanya Tagaq and Chelsea McMullan’s Ever Deadly. Starting at 10 am.
Looking Ahead to Wednesday, September 14
Falcon Lake screens at 12:30 pm at TIFF Bell Lightbox
The End of Sex screens at 2 pm at Scotiabank Theatre Toronto
Women Talking screens at 2:30 pm at Princess of Wales Theatre
Soft screens 3:30 pm at TIFF Bell Lightbox
Ever Deadly screens at 5:00 pm at TIFF Bell Lightbox
Rosie screens at 5:30 pm at Scotiabank Theatre Toronto
The Young Arsonists screens at 6:15 pm at Scotiabank Theatre Toronto
I Like Movies screens at 6:30 pm at TIFF Bell Lightbox
Black Ice screens at 9 pm at TIFF Bell Lightbox
Thom Ernst is a Toronto based film critic and writer and an active member of the (TFCA) Toronto Film Critics’ Association. His work has appeared in various publications including Playback Magazine, The Toronto Star, and The National Post. He is known to CBC Radio listeners for his lively contributions to Fresh Air, Metro Morning, and CBC Syndication as well as appearing on-air for CTV News Channel and The Agenda with Steve Paikin. He was host, interviewer and producer of televisions’ longest running movie program Saturday Night at the Movies. Currently he can be heard interviewing Canadian filmmakers on the Kingston Canadian Film Festival podcast, Rewind, Fast-Forward.