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Dublin International Film Festival 2020 Reviews - PATRICK / INITIALS SG / MAKE UP

make up molly windsor
Manslaughtering pornstars, Belgian nudists and off-season lesbians.


Reviews by Eric Hillis


Patrick
patrick belgian movie review
A movie is already off to a winning start when its drama plays out in a unique setting. That's certainly the case with Tim Mielants' comedy Patrick. The setting here is a nudist camp in rural Belgium, where the titular Patrick (Kevin Janssens), the camp's ostensible janitor, enters his workshop one morning to find one of a set of seven prized hammers has gone missing.

What follows is an absurdist reworking of a classic detective film. Much like how Rian Johnson's Brick transplanted the trappings of noir to an American high school, so does Mielants riff on the plot structure of The Maltese Falcon, with Patrick assuming the Bogart role as he encounters all manner of possible suspects, femme fatales and villains in his quest to retrieve his beloved tool, uncovering possible conspiracies and powerplays amongst the camp's denizens. But Patrick is no Sam Spade, rather he's painfully shy, withdrawn to the point of near non-existence, a factor which lends itself well to the cringe comedy at play here, particularly in an extended brawl in a cramped caravan, a contender for the best fight scene since Roddy Piper and Keith David traded blows in They Live.

It's testament to the effectiveness of both Mielants' storytelling and Janssens' sympathetic central performance that the novelty setting quickly becomes rudimentary, and every now and then you find yourself suddenly realising you've been sucked into a drama in which boobs and willies are constantly dangling in your face.




Initials SG
Julianne Nicholson appears to be vying for the title of South America's answer to Kristin Scott Thomas, an Anglo-Saxon actress who left her own country to ply her trade in a second language. Bearing a striking resemblance to Shirley Maclaine, in Argentinian drama Initials SG she plays Jane, a visiting American film buyer who finds herself falling for ex-crooner turned pornstar Sergio (Diego Peretti), a surly man-child who likes to think of himself as Buenos Aires' answer to Serge Gainsbourg.

Sergio doesn't deserve Jane, and Initials SG doesn't deserve Nicholson, whose wide-eyed performance goes a long way to keeping us on board with its frankly ludicrous plot, which sees Jane become an accomplice to manslaughter when Sergio accidentally kills a crazed young man in his elevator. The backdrop of Argentina's doomed exploits in the 2014 World Cup add a nice layer of texture, but Sergio is such an uncompelling protagonist that it's difficult to garner any empathy for his plight.




Make Up
The horror genre has often delved into homoerotic territory, whether explicitly in countless tales of lesbian vampires or through thinly-veiled allegory. Debut writer/director Claire Oakley's Make Up begins in horror territory only to morph into a straightforward(?) queer coming of age tale.

Rising British star Molly Windsor is excellent as teenager Ruth, who travels to a windswept Cornish caravan park where she plans to live and work alongside her older boyfriend Tom (Joseph Quinn) in the wintry off-season. There's more wind here than the Moors of 'Wuthering Heights', gusts constantly rustling the plastic cocoons that cover the now dormant caravans. Oakley evokes Jacques Tourneur as Ruth is haunted by what seems like unseen supernatural forces, glimpsing shadowy figures in unoccupied caravans and hearing voices emanating from shower stalls.

When Ruth befriends fellow worker Jade (Stefanie Martini), a sexy and cool as ice wig maker, she becomes haunted by her own emerging sexuality. Unfortunately the film becomes a lot less interesting once it replaces its moody allegorical horror with a run of the mill lesbian drama, and it shuffles through its closing laps to an underwhelming resolution. Oakley, Windsor and Martini all do enough good work here to keep us eager for their next outings however.