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Breaking a four-year trend, audiences and the jury disagreed on the best film at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.
(Neither group agreed with film critics' favorites, though that is nothing new.) The U. Dramatic jury, which included actors Gael García Bernal and Peter Dinklage among its members, opted for Macon Blair’s debut feature, I don’t feel at home in this world anymore., perhaps a fitting title for what many are feeling right now.
But for Will (Jason Segel), whose father (Robert Redford) discovered scientific evidence of the afterlife, and Isla (Rooney Mara), a suicidal girl he meets on the way to his father’s secluded mansion, their tragic pasts complicate matters.
Unfortunately, “A killer premise leads to only so-so execution,” according to Screen Daily’s Tim Grierson, an opinion Variety’s Dennis Harvey echoes: “The result is watchable enough, but never half as suspenseful or emotionally involving as it hopes to be.” Set along the border between Brazil and Paraguay, Felipe Bragança’s first solo-directed feature is about the forbidden love between 13-year-old Joca, a Brazilian, and Basano, an indigenous Paraguayan girl.
The two met at a Philadelphia social group for neurologically diverse adults, and now Scott, who has always lived with his parents, is about to move in with Dina.
Challenges await the couple, and a major one for Dina is Scott’s hesitancy with physical intimacy. Dowd cautions that an “impeccable sense of place and admirably stripped-bare shooting style can’t quite make up for how dourly predictable the film turns out to be.” Having worked together on Sundance films in 2000 (Chuck & Buck) and 2002 (The Good Girl), director Miguel Arteta and writer Mike White returned to the festival with this story of a holistic healer (Salma Hayek) who is invited to dinner at a rich client’s house where she clashes with a Trump-like businessman played by John Lithgow.
Producer and former NFL player Nnamdi Asomugha plays Warner’s best friend and advocate, Carl King, who devotes his life to freeing Warner.
Rom-com The Big Sick, a favorite of critics and audiences co-written by and starring ’s Kumail Nanjiani, had this year's biggest payday with million. Below, we recap the wide range of critical responses to the films attracting the most attention at this year's festival.
With the Women’s March on Washington and the ban on Muslims both occurring during the festival, politics and the current state of American democracy were on the minds of everyone, and topical films that looked at ISIS (City of Ghosts), climate change (An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power), Russia’s state-sponsored doping program (Icarus), race (Mudbound) and the criminal justice system (Whose Streets? Blue Ruin and Green Room actor Macon Blair’s feature directing debut stars Melanie Lynskey as a nursing assistant determined to get her belongings back after she is robbed.
She is joined on her quest by her martial-arts-enthusiast neighbor Tony (Elijah Wood), but the two find more trouble than they ever expected.
Giving the film an “A," Katie Walsh of The Playlist writes, “The film is as much about the power of the media as it is about war and revolution.” Amman Abbasi’s debut feature (which he also co-wrote with with Steven Reneau) looks at the life of 13-year-old Dayveon (Devin Blackmon) after the violent death of his big brother.
Set in rural Arkansas, where the local gang holds sway, this “striking debut” is a “simple film, but one with a notable depth of emotion,” according to Dominick Suzanne-Mayer of Consequence of Sound.