TIFF #48 – It’s a Wrap
by Thom Ernst – Film Correspondent
(September 17, 2023 – Toronto, ON) The last day of the festival is also the day you can see films for free, at least the TIFF2023 People’s Choice Award (yet to be announced).
On the Canadian film front (and who’s to say the People’s Choice Award won’t go to a Canadian film) there is one more screening of Quiz Lady.
Sandra Oh and Awkwafina star as sisters, Jenny (Oh) and Anne (Awkwafina). Anne is the younger, smart, well-behaved, and organized to the point of being obsessive. Jenny is her sisters opposite. She’s the rebel, reckless and not unafraid to do whatever is necessary to get what she wants. When the women’s mother goes missing from her retirement home, the sisters must work together to find her, bring her back and drum up the money for her care. Their best chance is to have reserved; homebody Anne compete in a television quiz show (modelled loosely on Jeopardy! with Will Ferrell stepping in doing a vague non-specific version of the late Alex Trebek) that Anne has watched religiously without fail since a little girl. But Anne does not want to appear on television, and Jenny is not capable of taking no for an answer.
Quiz Lady is broad comedy with a few hardly laughs but much of the humour gets lost in Oh’s and Awkwafina’s blustering performance. Their physical take on comedy seems to be based on a belief that frantic and loud is funnier than quiet and subtle. But director Jessica Yu does find places in the film where Oh’s and Awkwafina’s energies meet—Awkwafina auditioning while stoned is one such moment—and in those moment the film soars.
Your last chance to catch Quiz Lady at the festival is at 3 pm this afternoon at the 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.