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- 12/12/16--00:00: _Toni Erdmann
- 12/13/16--00:00: _Bolgen / The Wave
- 12/14/16--00:00: _Reza a Lenda / Holy...
- 12/15/16--00:00: _Kill Your Friends
- 12/16/16--00:00: _Special Correspondents
- 12/17/16--00:00: _Heart of a Dog
- 12/18/16--00:00: _A Film a Week - The...
- 12/19/16--00:00: _Hell or High Water
- 12/20/16--00:00: _The Walk
- 12/21/16--00:00: _Bite
- 12/22/16--00:00: _The Night Stalker
- 12/23/16--00:00: _Every Thing Will Be...
- 12/24/16--00:00: _The Girl with All t...
- 12/25/16--00:00: _A Film a Week - I, ...
- 12/26/16--00:00: _Elle
- 12/27/16--00:00: _The Intervention
- 12/28/16--00:00: _Friend Request
- 12/29/16--00:00: _L’attesa / The Wait
- 12/30/16--00:00: _The Family Fang
- 12/31/16--00:00: _Free State of Jones
- 12/12/16--00:00: Toni Erdmann
- 12/13/16--00:00: Bolgen / The Wave
- 12/14/16--00:00: Reza a Lenda / Holy Biker
- 12/15/16--00:00: Kill Your Friends
- 12/16/16--00:00: Special Correspondents
- 12/17/16--00:00: Heart of a Dog
- 12/19/16--00:00: Hell or High Water
- 12/20/16--00:00: The Walk
- 12/21/16--00:00: Bite
- 12/22/16--00:00: The Night Stalker
- 12/23/16--00:00: Every Thing Will Be Fine
- 12/24/16--00:00: The Girl with All the Gifts
- 12/25/16--00:00: A Film a Week - I, Daniel Blake
- 12/26/16--00:00: Elle
- 12/27/16--00:00: The Intervention
- 12/28/16--00:00: Friend Request
- 12/29/16--00:00: L’attesa / The Wait
- 12/30/16--00:00: The Family Fang
- 12/31/16--00:00: Free State of Jones
Note #2: This review has been developed through the NisiMasa workshop on this year's edition of Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival. It has been originally published on Nisimazine.
After the introduction scene of driving wild on a patch of a gravel road, the story starts as our protagonist Allar, played by Hendrik Toompere Jr. Jr. (not a mistake - it is the full name of the actor, also known from Elmo Nüganen's WW2 epic 1944), hangs out with his group of friends at a practice session of a local women volleyball team, drinking and blasting saucy comments. The setting is summer in a rural, wooded area, and the feeling is that for these young people there is not much else to do. Allar has just finished his high-school and is not sure whether he wants to continue his education, while the prospect of becoming a woodsman or a carpenter in the only lumber company in town, does not seem appealing to him.
But when he accidentally meets Juulius (Juhan Ulfsak from Autumn Ball), a mid-level henchman for a local crime lord, the things quickly get into perspective for him. Why not become a criminal, making easy money stealing lumber instead of sweating his days in the workshop? Juulius sees the potential in the ambitious kid, and has big plans for both of them.
The problem is that the film feels disjointed, both thematically and style-wise. The reason for that can be the fact that Ruumet (born in 1988) was in her early teens during the period, so her perspective is certainly clouded, coloured by an illogical nostalgia with very little attitude towards the political moment. This is evident from the themes she keeps opening, from the base story that feels like a combination of coming-of-age story and standard crime rise-and-fall narrative, to the topics of generational and lifestyle differences between the rural and the urban that she barely touches upon.
In terms of style, the film is also inconsistent, varying from the grim realism of dusty colours, to very filtered nightmarish and dream-like sequences accompanied by score of varying music styles, from piano and strings to moody folk tunes, and aggressively loud pop hits of the period. But on the other hand, Ruumet's timing is pretty accurate, making the shifts in rhythm and pace in all the right places.
However, there is a feeling that the film is not going anywhere, not just because of thin motivations of the characters, with the exception of Allar and maybe Juulius, but because of the confusion that it creates in the terms how the audience should perceive the genre and themes. It is an interesting debut by an inspired and passionate director with a lot of good ideas that could be covered in several different films, but lacking the structure to put them together in just one.
This last line of Ken Loach’sPalme d’Or winning film is probably the strongest quote since The Network's"I am mad as hell and I can't take it anymore". I, Daniel Blake is a powerful exposé on the topic of dismantling the socially responsible state since the Dardenne brothers’ Two Days, One Night, and probably the best film of the year.