Our seventh batch of JDIFF 2014 reviews are from Spooool.ie’s own Nigel Wheatley.
The Golden Dream (la Jaula De Oro)
Director: Diego Quemada-Diez
Cast: Brandon López, Rodolfo Domínguez, Karen Martínez
Country of Origin: Mexico/Spain
Duration: 102 minutes
Director Diego Quemada-Diez’s debut feature is a story of three young kids who try to go from a life of nothing in Guatemala to the dream of prosperity and worth in the United States. To do this they have to overcome any number of obstacles and threats (take your pick from anything involving drugs, prostitution and abuse) and travel on top of old freight trains up through Mexico to an incredibly well-guarded US border.
Spoiler-alert, things don’t go too well and these kids do not get to go to high school prom in California. Instead Quemada-Diez goes for the hard-hitting options and leaves the viewer in no doubt to just how tough this journey would be for the thousands of would-be migrants who attempt simple treks every year.
The film calls to mind the brilliant Sin Nombre from 2009 but it’s a very different film despite the similar subject matter with the use of non-professional actors and what feels like a lot of improvised dialogue helping to create a very believable world where friendships are as likely to be made as broken.
The final five minutes are some of the most powerful scenes you’ll see at the festival this year and some may think the imagery and final metaphor is laid on just a little too thick but in my book it was a fitting end to a beautifully told story of friendship, aspiration and loss.
Director: Jill Soloway
Cast: Kathryn Hahn, Juno Temple, Josh Radnor
Country of Origin: US
Duration: 102 minutes
You’ll recognise Kathryn Hahn, the lead actress of Afternoon Delight, and yet you’d be forgiven for not quite being able to place her. It’s most likely TV’s “Girls”, “Parks and Recreation” or on the big screen in supporting roles in stuff like Our Idiot Brother, Wanderlust or Anchorman. She’s a funny woman so it’s nice to see her given centre stage in a project. Unfortunately Afternoon Delight isn’t going to be the project that’s going to see her jumping up a notch and taking parts from the likes of Wiig, Poehler and Fey.
Hahn plays Rachel, a woman who is tired of her marriage with the app-developer hubby played by Josh Radnor (“How I Met Your Mother’s Ted”). So they go to a strip club and end up forming a friendship with McKenna, one of the strippers played by Juno Temple. She moves in with them ad becomes their defacto nanny. But things obviously go a little awry when she reveals she’s also basically a prostitute and invites Rachel to come with her to see a client.
It’s a weird enough plot but despite its attempt at shocking, you can’t avoid the feeling its just a “grand” and “nice” film. This is the director’s first feature having worked on TV’s “Six Feet Under” and “Grey’s Anatomy” and she assembled a brilliant supporting cast of funny people with the likes of Jane Lynch, Michaela Watkins and Keegan-Michael Key all on-board, but unfortunately the final film just isn’t as good as the sum of its parts suggests it should be.
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