Locarno Film Festival: London clichés the only problem with Joanna Hogg's new film Exhibition

 

The growing number of film festivals that insist on showing world premieres in competition has meant that apart from the so-called “A-list” festivals of Venice, Cannes and Berlin there has been slim pickings for other festivals in Europe.

Trying to find enough quality films to make a competition programme sufficiently interesting is a huge struggle for any Artistic Director outside the powerful triumvirate. The Moscow Film Festival was slated by sections of the Moscow press corps, although the anger was not just at what was seen as a poor programme, but also because three of the films selected had homosexual themes. The festival organisers complained in an interview with FIPRESCI (The International Federation of Film Critics)  about the struggles festival programmers have to find world premieres.

One festival that seems to be successfully adapting to the challenges is the Locarno Film Festival, set against the backdrop of a picturesque lake in Switzerland. During the 90s, the festival had a reputation for launching new talent and curating an eclectic and diverse programme. The explosion of new entrants onto the film festival circuit over the past decade coincided with a drop in the quality of the programme. Then over the past four years, first under the custodianship of Oliver Père, a former head of the Cannes Director’s Fortnight, Locarno found its footing again, positioned as a launch pad for edgy independent fare.

In his debut year, new artistic Director Carlo Chatrian has continued the good work with a competition selection of 18 films, featuring 16 world premieres and 2 international premieres.

The main interest from Britain was in the unleashing of a third film by Joanna Hogg, whose previous efforts were the Tuscany set romance Unrelated (2007), which won her the award for Most Promising Newcomer at the Evening Standard British Film Awards and Archipelago (2010) set around a family trip to the Isles of Scilly.

Her new film Exhibition is set in a modernist house in London owned by an artist couple, who have decided to sell. The interesting casting sees two acting debutants take on the roles of principal protagonists D and H: Turner prize nominated conceptual artist Liam Gillick and Viv Albertine, the onetime guitarist of influential all-English punk group The Slits. There is also a minor role for Hogg regular Tom Hiddleston as the estate agent charged with selling the unique house.

This though is essentially a two hander about a couple whose decision to sell their house evokes memories of the past highlighting the rut of their current relationship. The couple also work in their house, communicating with each other via telecom. H has the more successful career and his performance artist partner reveals a tension in their relationship when she states that she can’t ask H to review her work as he is constantly undermining her confidence. Their sex life is poor. Friends constantly talking about their children annoy them. The problems with the film come from the use of too familiar clichés about London life.

Hogg is an expert in the cinema of suggestion and from their actions and the sounds we hear off-screen, it becomes apparent that there has been a significant trauma in their common past, something that leaving their house may alleviate. The story and characters haunt long after the credits roll and it’s a picture that takes some time to sink in.

Less successful is Mary Queen of Scots directed by Thomas Imbach. The Swiss director takes a sombre, austere approach to a period drama about royalty, eschewing elements of the story that need big set-pieces and lavish costumes. Instead the director tries to get into the mind of Mary but is on a hiding to nothing because of the performance of French newcomer Camille Rutherford (who struggles with the English dialogue scenes) and a poor script.

It was clear why an exception to the world premiere rule was made for Short Term 12, an American independent set in a foster-care facility starring 21 Jump Street star Brie Larson. Written and directed by Destin Cretton, who based some of the characters on his own experiences working at such a facility, the story tells of a care worker’s struggle to cope with problems in her own relationship and past whilst also looking after kids in her care.

Away from the competition one of the highlights of Locarno has always been the open-air screenings at the Piazza Grande. The criteria for choosing these films are that they can get several thousand bums on seats each evening. This year the festival benefitted from glorious warm evenings with stars beaming in the night sky. Only the opening night film, 2 Guns starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg suffered because of bad weather. There was a mix of new films and classics, including those from the two directors receiving a retrospective at the festival, Werner Herzog and George Cukor. Fans of revenge thrillers should definitely look out for the American independent Blue Ruin. One should definitely have a sweet movie tooth for two of the other selections, the closing night film was Richard Curtis’ About Time and also screening was the Michael Caine starrer Mr Morgan’s Last Love, in which the British actor plays a Paris-residing American (with a dodgy accent) who following the death of his wife befriends a young dance instructor on a bus in Paris.

Locarno Film Festival ends 17 August

Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face

books
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from How To Train Your Dragon 2

Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigour

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland and Jena Malone in Mockinjay: Part 1

film
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips

music
Arts and Entertainment
Gay icons: Sesame Street's Bert (right) and Ernie

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Robin Thicke and actress Paula Patton

music
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be shot in the same studios as the Harry Potter films

books
Arts and Entertainment
Duncan Bannatyne left school at 15 and was still penniless at 29

Bannatyne leaves Dragon's Den

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The French economist Thomas Piketty wrote that global inequality has worsened

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck plays a despondent Nick Dunne in David Fincher's 'Gone Girl'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty (L) and Carl Barât look at the scene as people begin to be crushed

music
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Caral Barat of The Libertines performs on stage at British Summer Time Festival at Hyde Park

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea perform on stage at the Billboard Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Zina Saro-Wiwa

art
Arts and Entertainment
All-new couples 'Come Dine With Me'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Black Sabbath's Ozzy Osbourne
musicReview: BST Hyde Park, London
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Gamble and Amy Hoggart star in Almost Royal burning bright productions
tvTV comedy following British ‘aristos’ is accused of mocking the trusting nature of Americans
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice