TIFF 48 – Day 4
by Thom Ernst – Film Correspondent
(September 10, 2023 – Toronto, ON) While watching director Charles-Olivier Michaud’s RU I was reminded of Barry Greenwald’s Who Gets In? (1989) a docudrama about landed immigrants (literally) taken in by an East Coast Canadian village. There is a similar tone in Michaud’s film as in Greenwald’s, in that the grassroots acceptance of the immigrants by their hosts is a given.
With RU, Michaud expands on the immigrant story. RU is a film that takes the p.o.v. of a young girl born out of privilege, forced from her homeland, and into a life of relative obscurity in rural Quebec. The young girl is Tinh (Chloé Djandji in an outstanding performance). Tinh is our witness through the ordeal of panicked but controlled evacuation to relocation. Michard effectively captures the upheaval and confusion through the eyes of Tinh and her family. But the story tilts away from the traditional in that focus is placed on the enthusiastic attempt of the family’s hosts to ensure all feel welcomed. Memories of the dangerous land Tinh’s family has left behind come back in flashbacks played against the idyl and idylistic magic of discovering snow and taking part in a line dance.
The screenings for RU are complete, but it remains a good title to put aside and wait for its commercial or streaming release.
Canadian films that are showing today:
There is hardly a more iconic Canadian name than Ed Coombs, or as he is better known to our inner children, Mr. Dressup. The documentary, Mr. Dressup: The Magic of Make-Believe plays today at 8:45 pm in Scotiabank 3.
It’s heartening to know that documentaries can be made without the hook of a scandal. I was one of the few existing Canadians who did not watch Mr. Dressup when growing up, but even in my ignorance, I know who Mr. Dressup is; and I know of his puppet pal, Finnegan.
Mr. Dressup: The Magic of Make-Believe is a charming toast to a charming icon, as seen through clips, and interviews with people like Patty Sullivan (Kid’s Host), Biff Naked (musician) The Bare-Naked Ladies (musicians), Eric McCormack (actor) Rob Salem (journalist), Scott Thompson (actor) and Bruce McCulloch (actor). The film could have worked just as an outlet for those nostalgic enough to want to revisit the days of model trains, tree houses, and tickle-boxes, but the story of Ernie Coombs’s rise, his friendships, and his life is a joy for all can appreciate.
Viggo Mortensen’s second directorial outing as director is a western. And it’s a Western with a feminist bent. It also has one of those overtly descriptive titles that state the obvious: The Dead Don’t Hurt.
Mortenson plays freely with time so that his character, a handsome, loner who carries his moral backbone with every stepMlike he was carrying six-shooters, cocked and ready, appears to be in two places at the same time. Morgenston’s character is essential to the story, but it’s Vicky Krieps as Viviane who the audience is most invested in. Krieps prefers to live alone and make her own money. Not even Morgenston’s faithful and loving partner, Holger Olsen can keep her down on the homestead. But not long after Holger and Viviane find each other, doe Holger go off to war. Now, alone on the homestead, Viviane forages a life against isolation, Western unlawfulness, and a toxic male environment.
Still unseen, is Hey Viktor! screening this evening at 9:15 p.m. at Scotiabank Theatre 10. And the midnight madness tonight is Finn Wolfhard’s Hell of a Summer at 11:59 p.m. at the Royal Alexandra Theatre.
The big-ticket item today was Atom Egoyan’s much anticipated Seven Veils, which screened at the Prince of Wales at 3:45 pm. And seen and recommended is Summer Qamp, a documentary of a LGBTQ2+ friendly camp in rural Alberta. Also unseen today is Bria Mack Gets A Life, which screened this afternoon at Scotiabank Theatre.
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.