SIFF 2014: Day One

Just FYI – This is the fortieth year of SIFF.

This year, when choosing the films I would see, I tried to keep it somewhat light for the most part. I succeeded half-way in my first night of the festival.

I started with Attila Marcel, the live-action feature debut of Sylvain Chomet (Triplets of Belleville). With plenty of whimsy, it tells the story of a man, mute since witnessing the deaths of his parents at age two, living with his overbearing aunts, and his eventual escape from his existential prison. The means of which is an eccentric neighbor who sells him special tea. It is a musical and colorful journey of discovery and change. I was quite entertained by this film and don’t have too much complaint about it. However, the sub plot and inevitable exit of Madame Proust felt somewhat lacking to me, as it was merely a device in the drama and not so well though out as the memory dreams of main character Paul. Still, a fun bit of cinema.

The second half of the night took a darker turn with The Double, Richard Ayoade’s follow-up to Submarine. Jesse Eisenberg takes the dual roles of Simon and James, two very different, but very much the same, people, vying for the attentions of the boss and the pretty girl across the street (Mia Wasikowska). There is humor, as one might expect from Ayoade, but ultimately the film is a dark character story, a sort of exploration of the nice and not-so-nice in all of us. The settings were a timeless generic blended with a futuristic dystopia. There is no clear locality nor era beyond just “modern times”.  Much like Attila Marcel, it was an aesthetic delight.