Original-Cin TIFF Picks, Friday, Sept. 8

By Jim Slotek, Kim Hughes and Liam Lacey

CARDINALS (Discovery)

Friday, Sept. 8, Scotia 13 (9:30 p.m.). Saturday, Sept. 9 (12 p.m.), TBLB 4. Sunday, Sept. 17 (10 a.m.), Jackman.

The plot is bare-bones and beggars belief a bit, but the power of this Canadian world premiere is in the acting. Sheila McCarthy exhibits total control and repressed torment as a woman released from prison after 10 years for drunk vehicular homicide. She is hounded on her release by the victim’s son (Noah Reid), who unravels in the process of following his dire suspicions. One daughter (Katie Boland) is the keeper of a secret. The other (Grace Glowicki) is clueless and concerned. A terrific little dramatic tour de force. - JS

 Sheila McCarthy's controlled performance makes Cardinals worth it

Sheila McCarthy's controlled performance makes Cardinals worth it

THE OTHER SIDE OF HOPE

Masters

Fri, Sep 8, (6:45 p.m.). TBLB 1. Sun, Sep 10, (9:30 a.m.) TBLB 2.

The reliable Finnish maestro Aki Kaurismäki tends to do the same thing, with small variations, but does it in a way that’s entirely his own, from the curl of cigarette smoke to the faded colours on the walls.  His latest deadpan comedy-drama is an old-fashioned film  about a topical demand for compassion, the European, and especially the Syrian, refugee crisis. Echoing his previous film, Le Havre, it follows the bond that forms between a middle-aged curmudgeon (Kaurismaki standby, Sakari Kuosmanen) a shirt salesman who is trying to run a restaurant — and a young Syrian illegal worker, Khaled (Sherwan Haji) fleeing from his country’s war.  As a model, think of Charlie Chaplin’s love of waifs and tramps but with Buster Keaton’s stone-faced glare. - LL

 McEnroe (LaBeouf), Borg (Gudnason). Who's the head case?

McEnroe (LaBeouf), Borg (Gudnason). Who's the head case?

ON CHESIL BEACH (Special Presentation)

Friday, Sept. 8 (12:45 p.m.) TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

For a novel that can be read in an afternoon, Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach packs a punch even though not a lot happens between the book’s foreboding opening (“They were young, educated, and both virgins on this, their wedding night, and they lived in a time when conversation about sexual difficulties was plainly impossible”) and its agonizing conclusion. McEwan’s faithfully adapted screenplay is dependably excellent. But it’s the performances of leads Saoirse Ronan and Billy Howle as the hopelessly maladroit lovers bursting from the screen.  - KH

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME (Special Presentations/Next Wave)

Friday, Sept. 8 (9:30 am), TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

This sumptuous adaptation of André Aciman’s 2007 novel by director Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love, A Bigger Splash) could also be filed under ‘coming of age stories’ or ‘summer flings’ except that it chronicles a gay romance. You just don’t see that every day, especially with mainstream actors like Armie Hammer in the lead and who, it must be said, seems way too chic to be slumming with this hyper-academic multilingual crew. Not so Timothée Chalamet as Hammer’s torn but smitten paramour. James Ivory’s screenplay sings while wistful songs by Sufjan Stevens underscore a stunning northern Italy tourists will seek but never find. - KH

BORG/MCENROE (Gala)

Fri. Sept. 9. (4 p.m.) Scotia 1. Wed. Sept. 13. (8:30 a.m.). Scotia 2

Janus Metz gives us a very thoughtful, very Swedish perspective on the 1980 Wimbledon final that many consider the greatest tennis match ever played. With oblique camera angles and earnest closeups, the weekend of reckoning for Bjorn Borg (Sverrir Gudnason) and the professionally obnoxious American kid John McEnroe (a perfectly cast Shia LaBeouf), is dissected with lifetime flashbacks that suggests Sweden's icon "the Ice Borg" might have actually been the bigger head case of the two. The very non-Hollywood build-up makes a jarring segue to the action-filled last act (which is pretty standard stuff, despite Metz' predilection for things like slow-motion overhead shots). Stellan Skarsgård gives a solid performance as Borg's coach, who took a rage-filled teenager and taught him to bottle it up. - JS