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TIFF23 Dispatch - Part 3

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September 18, 2023
Hunter Friesen
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All of the films were screened at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Click here for additional full reviews and dispatches. Select films below will receive separate full-length reviews at a later date, most likely in connection to their public releases.

North Star

Maybe not every actor should be allowed to make their directorial debut. Kristen Scott Thomas' first foray behind the camera (while still being in front in a supporting role) is littered with choppy editing, poor pacing, and a scattershot script that has way too much on its plate.

Emily Beecham is the only shining star (pun intended) in a cast that includes Scarlett Johansson fumbling a British accent and Sienna Miller being fine, I guess. This is surely bound for VOD/streaming way down the line. (2/5)

His Three Daughters

Azazel Jacobs’ follow up to French Exit (remember that during the pandemic?) starts incredibly rough as our three lead characters act as if they’re aliens who are trying to replicate drought emotions. This bug may be a feature to some, but it ends up feeling like a grating mashup of Yorgos Lanthimos and Wes Anderson. Things do settle down later, allowing for the actresses to flourish. Natashya Lyonne stands out as the slacker of the three sisters, and yet she seems to have the firmest grasp on the mysteries of life. (2.5/5)

Seven Veils

It wouldn’t be a normal TIFF if it didn’t feature the newest film by hometown hero Atom Egoyan. Amanda Seyfried plunges headfirst into her role as the new director of a revival of Salome at the Canadian Opera Company, a production Egoyan himself helmed while making this film. There’s a lot of big swings, with more than half of them not connecting. But the ones that do connect are really special, such as the audacious staging of the material. The bar may be low, but this is Egoyan's best work in decades. (3/5)

Woman of the Hour

Anna Kendrick dominated the actor-turned-director battle at this year’s TIFF, with her film, Woman of the Hour, being quite the impressive statement on her skills behind the camera. Now all she needs to do is find a good script, because the one here doesn’t give her enough to work with. While well staged, much of the “action” of the film by the serial killer feels like filler, and the main ideas are spelled out as if they're competing at a spelling bee. Netflix opened the market with an $11 acquisition, giving this true crime film the perfect home. (3/5)

Knox Goes Away

Between the other hitman focused movies at the fall festivals and how much it seriously fumbles the great concept of a hitman battling rapidly developing dementia, Michael Keaton’s sophomore directorial outing fails to be anything more than a depressing shrug. Luckily for the actor/director, he’s slightly exonerated from blame as Gregory Poirier’s CSI-level script is what sinks this ship. Al Pacino gives his most comfortable performance sitting in some luxurious recliners, and Marcia gay Harden does Keaton a favor by showing up for one half-decent scene. (2.5/5)

'Spaceman' Review

The simple sight of the comedian in a lower register isn’t enough to cover up an oversimplified love story with liberally borrowed plot points.

'Drive-Away Dolls' Review

The results here are a bit scatterbrained, sort of touching on a few too many Coen trademarks with only half the potency they used to have.

'Dune: Part Two' Review

Just as he did with 'Blade Runner 2049,' Villeneuve has accomplished what has long been thought to be impossible.

'Madame Web' Review

Never has expository dialogue been so in demand, and a plot been so needlessly convoluted.

'Bob Marley: One Love' Review

Just another entry in a long line of music biopics that merely exist to pump up the brand image of its icon
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