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VIFF 2011, Day 13: An Enlightening Darkness Settles In Once Again


VanRamblings started our Festival darkWithout, Tyrannosaur, and Michael — two weeks back, and we're ending our Festival the same way: with Pure on Thursday night, and perhaps the darkest of the dark night of the soul film at this year's VIFF, Sean Durkin's Sundance psychological thriller, Martha Marcy May Marlene, which we saw Tuesday evening.

Alicia Vikander, Eva Ionesco, Elizabeth Olsen

Stunning début performances in 2011, from Alicia Vikander, Eva Ionesco, & Elizabeth Olsen

At the 30th annual Vancouver International Film Festival, the word audacious might appropriately be employed in discussion of some aspect of a film screening at VIFF30 merely three times ...

  • Alicia Vikander's stunner of a performance, dark, disturbing and utterly humane, if ever so twisted in the realization of such, in Pure;

  • Eva Ionesco's enthralling début film, My Little Princess, this film more than any other screening at the Festival employing every key element of the craft of filmmaking — sound, colour, words and feeling — in what has to be considered the cinematic and artistic triumph of the year; and

  • Elizabeth Olson who, as in the case of Vikander and Ionesco, finds herself at the centre of a film, Martha Marcy May Marlene, in which she surrenders deeply and hauntingly to the inexorable passage through the hours of her existence, and whatever horror may come from the move forward through her shuddering life.

In 2011, those who love film have been witness to a spate of performances that have transcended anything anyone might have thought possible.

Elle Fanning, Carey Mulligan, Felicity Jones

Elle Fanning, Super 8; Carey Mulligan, Drive; Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene

1. Elle Fanning standing on the train station platform in Super 8, and the first script read-aloud of the film her classmates are shooting, in the most surprising, the most tender scene in any film you'll see this year.

2. Carey Mulligan in Drive, standing near the kitchen table, looking at Ryan Gosling, after he's carried her groceries to the kitchen, as he prepares to leave her apartment, when the two of them look, really look, at one another for the first time, their nascent, almost non-existent relationship changing from simple engagement to the deepest possible connection, and

3. Felicity Jones in Like Crazy, her hand on the glass door of her apartment building, Anton Yelchin's hand on the other side of the glass almost touching her hand, the scene capable of melting the coldest of hearts.

The three performances from the three actresses above represent the heart of the best performances captured on film this year. Anyone who has witnessed Ms. Fanning, Ms. Mulligan and Ms. Jones in these movies, during and through the end of each of these scenes, became verklempt, tears streaming down our cheeks, and in the case of the first two performances witness to the birth of long and lustrous acting careers (we'll hold judgement on Ms. Jones til we see her next film ... although she is lovely).

If the power of Alicia Vikander's performances stems from the communication of an off-kilter personality, someone who is not quite to be trusted, however much empathy you may feel for her, the performance in 2011 that impresses more than any one of the performances mentioned above in any of the films released this year — despite the deeply embedded chilliness of her interpretation of the character — is most defiantly, Elizabeth Olson's riveting, vertiginous début as Martha Marcy May Marlene.

Make no mistake, Elizabeth Olsen's is the breakout performance of the year, her emergence in Sean Durkin's film the most darkly idiosyncratic acting turn of the year, star-making, hungry, unguarded, warped, and infused with a grisly, horrific dread that is never less than transfixing.

Full VR daily coverage of the Vancouver Film Festival may be found here.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at October 12, 2011 8:24 AM in VIFF 2011


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