79th Venice International Film Festival

08/31/2021

Festival Reviews

Blue Jean

Blue Jean

Georgia Oakley’s debut feature is at times a little clumsy but it’s also the work of an interesting new voice in British cinema with a flair for expressive images.

Casa Susanna

Casa Susanna

Sébastien Lifshitz’s latest documentary explores a U.S. hideout for cross-dressing men and trans women but beyond the subject itself, which is interesting, not much of the director’s usual rigour can be found.

Padre Pio

Padre Pio

Abel Ferrara’s total misfire aims to merge the story of a 1920 class-related massacre with the contemporaneous crisis of faith of Italy’s most popular 20th century saint, but the poor script, bad acting and overall lack of cohesion make this just a time-waster.

Banu

Banu

War and patriarchy deprive Azerbaijani women of their sons in an intimate, courageous drama that intertwines personal and political plot lines, directed and acted by first-time director Tahmina Rafaella.

White Noise

White Noise

Noah Baumbach and an inspired cast headlining Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig enjoyably bring Don DeLillo’s “unfilmable” novel about America in the Eighties to life with retro gusto, while straining to make it relevant.

Princess

Princess

A rare fictionalized look at a Nigerian sex worker in Italy that celebrates its subject, flaws and all, with a spirited central performance and a laudable sensitivity destined to find welcoming arms worldwide.

The Stranger

The Stranger

Palestine’s 2022 Oscar submission is a brooding story of lives in limbo in the Golan Heights, stunningly shot and wrenching in its moving evocation of a man mired in self-loathing and paralyzed by the physical and existential no-man’s land resulting in the Israeli occupation and the disaster in Syria.

The Power of the Dog

The Power of the Dog

Jane Campion’s bold cinematic interpretation of Thomas Savage’s novel about cattle ranchers in 1920’s Montana is a sensuous, aestheticized Netflix release, whose meticulous detail and gay subplot are admirable but a little tiring.

Vera Dreams of the Sea

Vera Dreams of the Sea

Kosovo’s Kaltrina Krasniqi makes an impressive feature debut with this beautifully measured drama about a once-compliant 60-something widow who attempts to deflect the malevolent traditional patriarchy in a nation on the edge of change.

Django & Django

Django & Django

Quentin Tarantino explains his love for Sergio Corbucci’s Spaghetti Westerns and reveals a lot about his own work in the process in Luca Rea’s irresistible, eye-opening documentary.

Full Time

Full Time

Life is more than a little hectic for the protagonist of Full Time (Temps plein), a single mother of two who’s trying to keep down one job while trying to find another as traffic strikes wreak further havoc on her ability to juggle all her duties. This naturalistic...

Venice 2021: The Verdict

Venice 2021: The Verdict

When Roberto Cicutto, president of La Biennale di Venezia, admitted on stage at the 78th awards ceremony that the last two Venice Film Festivals came close to not happening, he put his finger on the miracle on the Lido. A huge, unwieldy Italian festival got through...

Miracle

Miracle

There are two movies in Miracle, Bogdan George Apetri’s uneven, beautifully shot drama divided between a young religious novice’s ordeal when seeking an abortion and the police investigation that follows her brutal rape. The first part, characterized by an admirable...

Another World

Another World

In 2015, craggy-faced actor Vincent Lindon won the Cannes Best Actor nod for his role as a laid-off employee in The Measure of a Man, directed by Stéphane Brizé in their third collaboration. In 2018, they reunited again for At War, in which Lindon played a man...

On the Job: The Missing 8

On the Job: The Missing 8

A Venice competition slot seems like a strange place for On the Job: The Missing 8, a punishingly long corruption thriller from Filipino genre master Erik Matti that’s soon to be seen as an HBO Asia Original six-episode mini-series. Following on – but not actually a...

America Latina

America Latina

Elio Germano plays a mild-mannered dentist who discovers a girl is tied up in his basement in Damiano and Fabio D’Innocenzo’s (‘Favolacce’) absurdist psychological thriller.

Leave No Traces

Leave No Traces

The first shot of Leave No Traces may make you think you’re at a retrospective of one of the great Polish filmmakers from forty or more years ago, so perfect is the recreation. It takes place in a shadowy Warsaw bedroom in 1983, and the stillness, warm tonalities and...

Venice Immersive

Venice Immersive

The Venice Film Festival was the first major film festival to dedicate a special section to Virtual Reality (VR) that wasn’t an ad-hoc event. The entire VR community of producers, artists, buyers, sellers and exhibition people now congregate in Venice each year to...

Blonde

Blonde

Pre-release hype will be the biggest friend to this mess of a pseudo-biopic that reduces Marilyn Monroe to a disturbed child-woman with Daddy issues, never offering a glimpse of the screen magic notwithstanding Ana de Armas’ impressive recreation.

Beyond the Wall

Beyond the Wall

A shattering drama that courageously portrays Iran as a violent Big Brother police state, Vahid Jalilvand’s third film is a shrill, breath-taking mind-trip driven by between two exceptional actors, Navid Mohammadzadeh and Diana Habibi.

The Son

The Son

French playwright-turned-film director Florian Zeller (‘The Father’), again adapts his own play, here starring Hugh Jackman, and the result is a solid drama that unravels in the home stretch.

Saint Omer

Saint Omer

Alice Diop’s superb fiction debut is a marvel of control and depth, using the trial of a Senegalese woman guilty of killing her infant to honestly explore the complexities of motherhood while foregrounding it all within France’s racist currents.

World War III

World War III

A manual day laborer is selected to play Hitler in a film, but this stroke of “luck” leads to terrible tragedies on the film set in Houman Seyedi’s expertly crafted, realistic/metaphoric tale about authoritarian society.

Vera

Vera

Award-winning documentary team Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel plunge deep into the heart of the adult daughter of spaghetti western star Giuliano Gemma in a wonderfully touching film portrait that tips its Stetson at the illusory side of documentaries.

Awards Corner

Venice

  • Special Jury Prize for Special Jury Price
    Il Buco (Germany, Italy, France)
    Director: Michelangelo Frammartino
  • Award for Best Screenplay
    The Lost Daughter (Greece, USA)
    Maggie Gyllenhaal
  • Coppa Volpi for Best Actress
    Madres Paraleles (Spain)
    Penelope Cruz
  • Coppa Volpi for Best Actor
    On the job: Missing 8 (Philippines)
    John Arcilla
  • Marcelo Mastroianni Award for Best Young Actor or Actress
    The hand of god (Italy)
    Filippo Scotti