THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ELEANOR RIGBY: HER AND HIM
Goddamn do I love looking at Jessica Chastain, who stars with James McAvoy in this interesting/unnecessary experiment of telling a story from two sides. They play a married couple splintered apart by the death of their infant son/her suicide attempt. She moves in with her parents and leaves him behind while she tries to find herself again. She cuts off her hair, goes back to grad school, tries random hookups and generally zombies her way through the rest of it. Chastain is such a compelling, watchable performer that when Her ends at the 1:40 mark, you almost feel bad for the very likable McAvoy to have to follow that. Because nobody cares about his failing bar. The only real point of interest provided by the dual POVs is that we see some scenes repeated, with varying dialogue and actions, demonstrating how we all remember things the way we want to, not necessarily how they were. At three hours, Disappearance is a hard sell (I was front row and in for it all) and if it came out less a Him I would not be surprised. But Chastain has another chance at the Oscar jacked by Jennifer Lawrence last year.
Mia Wasikowska walks four camels across Australia, obviously. Based on a true story, this delight also stars Adam Driver as a field photographer for National Geographic. Remember how Into the Wild wanted to be so deep and thoughtful about choosing to forgo modern comforts in order to get right with nature, but was actually about a guy who didn't prepare and died of his own stupidity? Tracks is the right movie. There's an amazing dog AND a baby camel, you have been warned. PS Big ups as usual to the Aussies, who also made the amazing Canopy.
THE F WORD
This guy is no fan of Canadian stereotype machine Michael Dowse (FUBAR, Goon) but he has a winner in The F Word, starring Daniel Radcliffe in love with Zoe Kazan, who has a boyfriend. A small story, well told. Some FX moments play chintzy and some comedic setpieces play broad, but the little love story at the middle is just a joy to watch. A very Toronto-y movie also.
The hippie farmer at the heart of the billon-dollar Burt's Bees empire was hosed out of kajillions by an ex-girlfriend and chooses to live with dogs and no electricity in Maine. He obviously has more money than he lets on—a throughline is his reluctant trips to promote the brand—but that he didn't fight for what's his is pretty notable.
MY FINAL THOUGHT
My four favourites of this year's TIFF—ENOUGH SAID, GRAVITY, AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY and THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ELEANOR RIGBY—all star mature women, many at the peaks of the careers. It's a rare festival—or day on earth, really—that I come away stoked for the year's awards races, but this is gonna be a dope one, y'all (and makes up for the anticipated Prisoners giving its tremendous actresses very little to do). So keep watching the skies.