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film review

Also opening: The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open, and Harriet Tubman biopic Harriet

The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open

Experimental Forest Films

  • Written and directed by Elle-Maija Tailfeathers and Kathleen Hepburn
  • Starring Elle-Maija Tailfeathers and Violet Nelson
  • Classification 14A; 105 minutes

Rating:

4 out of 4 stars

There is an immediately beautiful moment in Elle-Maija Tailfeathers and Kathleen Hepburn’s new film, The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open, where the lead character Rosie (Violet Nelson) sits at rest, in a state of anxious calm, listening to Joni Mitchell’s Little Green. She is in the home of Áila (Elle-MaijaTailfeathers), a woman who had encountered Rosie barefoot in the rain, standing still, pregnant and bruised, just across the street from the shouts and violence of her abusive partner in East Vancouver. (Opens Nov. 1 in Vancouver, and Dec. 13 in Toronto)

Synonyms

1996-98 AccuSoft Inc., All rights reserved/Courtesy of TIFF

  • Co-written and directed by Nadav Lapid
  • Starring Tom Mercier, Quentin Dolmaire, Louise Chevillotte
  • 123 minutes

Rating:

3.5 out of 4 stars

Israeli writer-director Nadav Lapid’s relentless, brutal, disorienting, absurdist Synonyms won the Golden Bear at this year’s Berlin Film Festival. Yoav (the extraordinary, combustible newcomer Tom Mercier) is newly arrived in Paris and, in short order, stripped of his possessions, ID’d as Jewish and near death. He is rescued by Émile and his lithesome girlfriend, Caroline, bored bourgeois lovers living languorously in a grand Left Bank apartment. (Opens at the TIFF Lightbox Nov. 1)

Harriet

Glen Wilson/Focus Features

  • Directed by Kasi Lemmons
  • Written by Kasi Lemmons and Gregory Allen Howard
  • Starring Cynthia Erivo
  • Classification PG; 123 minutes

Rating:

3 out of 4 stars

There’s no question that Harriet Tubman is a great U.S. hero. Born into slavery in 1822, she was an integral guide on the Underground Railroad and went on to become an abolitionist, a suffragette and the first woman to lead an armed expedition in the U.S. Civil War. There’s no question that she’s an ideal subject for a biopic. And there’s no question that Harriet’s co-writer and director, Kasi Lemmons, and star Cynthia Erivo fervently desire to do justice to Tubman’s legacy and accomplishments. But there is such a thing as being too reverential. (Opens Nov. 1)

The Cave

National Geographic / Courtesy of Mongrel Media

  • Directed by Feras Fayyad
  • Starring Amani Ballour
  • Classification R; 95 minutes

Rating:

3 out of 4 stars

Dr. Amani Ballour is the subject of an artful, poised and intimate documentary about the civil war in Syria and a subterranean hospital in a bombed-out and besieged area on the outskirts of Damascus. As if the conditions aren’t dire enough, Ballour faces intense sexism. The Cave is directed by Syrian filmmaker Feras Fayyad, whose Oscar-nominated Last Men in Aleppo focused on search-and-rescue specialists who work in the city’s rubble. (Opens on Nov. 1 in Toronto, with other Canadian cities to follow)

Motherless Brooklyn

Glen Wilson/Warner Bros.

  • Written and directed by Edward Norton
  • Starring Edward Norton, Bruce Willis and Alec Baldwin
  • Classification R; 144 minutes

Rating:

2.5 out of 4 stars

Actor and director Edward Norton’s screenplay for Motherless Brooklyn is based on Jonathan Lethem’s award-winning novel about Lionel Essrog, an orphan with Tourette syndrome who is made streetwise by gangster Frank Minna. What should have been the trickiest parts of this enterprise – elucidating the warm relationship between Essrog (Norton) and Minna (Bruce Willis), and Essrog’s Tourette syndrome – Norton handles with aplomb. The rest is a murky mess, unnecessarily dense and confusing for two hours, and then in the last 20 minutes, way too obvious. (Opens Nov. 1)

Terminator: Dark Fate

Kerry Brown/Paramount Pictures

  • Directed by Tim Miller
  • Written by David S. Goyer, Justin Rhodes and Billy Ray
  • Starring Mackenzie Davis, Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • Classification R; 128 minutes

Rating:

2.5 out of 4 stars

So many Terminators – and Sarah and John Connors and Kyle Reeses and Miles Dysons – had to die so that Terminator: Dark Fate could live. Was it worth the sacrifice? The story we’re all wearily expecting is exactly the story we get, with barely a torque or twist to something new. (Opens Nov. 1)

Also: What’s new and noteworthy to stream

François Duhamel/Netflix

Barry Hertz rounds up a few streaming recommendations, including Dolemite Is My Name on Netflix, A Colony on Crave and Prospect on Kanopy, the relatively under-the-radar streaming service.


This weekly guide was compiled by Lori Fazari, with reviews from Sarah-Tai Black, Barry Hertz, Simon Houpt, Johanna Schneller and Brad Wheeler.