Time to continue on with the NYFF reviews! Got to revisit a couple of my favorite films of the year with Luca Guadagnino’s “Call Me By Your Name” and Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird.” I’ll also be reviewing Todd Haynes’s “Wonderstruck” while also delving into this weekend’s new release from Denis Villeneuve, “Blade Runner 2049.” Ready to go!
“Call Me By Your Name,” dir. Luca Guadagnino
Elio Perlman is spending the summer with his family at their vacation home in Lombardy, Italy. When his father hires a handsome doctoral student, the curious 17-year-old finds himself developing a growing attraction to the young man.
Upon a second viewing, I was even more impacted by “Call Me By Your Name.” The way Luca Guadagnino lets this beautiful romance unfold feels so organic and genuine. This is only elevated by the marvelous performances by Armie Hammer, turning in the best work of his career, and Timothée Chalamet, an instant star in the year’s most emotionally powerful performance. Not a single moment feels out of place in this 130 minute triumph, culminating in one of the best endings I’ve ever seen in a movie.
“Lady Bird,” dir. Greta Gerwig
The adventures of a young woman living in Northern California for a year.
Man, oh man, the charm of “Lady Bird” is so infectious! Saoirse Ronan is a treasure to behold, adding so much humanity and hilarity to an already richly developed character. I could not be more excited to see what else Greta Gerwig can do as a director because this is one of the strongest debuts in years.
“Wonderstruck,” dir. Todd Haynes
The story of a young boy in the Midwest is told simultaneously with a tale about a young girl in New York from fifty years ago as they both seek the same mysterious connection.
While the story and characters in “Wonderstruck” are certainly intended to have a lot of emotional weight, Todd Haynes and Brian Selznick, adapting his own novel in his first screenplay, keep things at a distance. I never once felt connected with these characters and struggled to stay engaged as the plot began to meander. It’s a film where the visual style has more of a punch than the actual content. It’s not a terrible movie, but rather an instantly forgettable one.
“Blade Runner 2049,” dir. Denis Villeneuve
Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K, unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard, a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for thirty years.
I don’t know where to start with this one. “Blade Runner 2049” has already been praised so much and I worry that it’s going to be yet another case where a critically acclaimed film gets overhyped for many people. All I know for certain is that for myself, this is everything I could want out of a sequel to one of the greatest sci-fi films of all-time. Denis Villeneuve takes the themes of the original and expands upon them, taking them in exciting new directions. The entire cast is in top form, the cinematography by Roger Deakins is so gorgeous that it will be a crime if he doesn’t finally win an Oscar, and the 163 minute runtime feels completely earned.
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