Thursday, September 17, 2015

TIFF 2015: Schneider Vs. Bax and Evolution

I saw two films on Wednesday and I decided to rev iew them together, because I found interesting constrasts between them.

Schneider Vs. Bax is a dark comedy about hit man Schneider (Tom Dewispelaere), whose birthday with his perfect family (beautiful wife and two adorable daughters) is interrupted by a call from his handler Mertens, who tells him he must kill writer Ronen Bax (played by Director and Writer Alex van Warmerdam), and the job must be done today. Bax's family is not nearly so perfect; his daughter is depressed and his father is a dirty old man. He lives in a beautiful small house on the water, where he entertains his girlfriend and partakes of a variety of intoxicants. And soon after Mertens sends Scheider to kill him, he also calls Bax to tell him Schneider is on the way. It's a trap for Schneider, which Schneider figures out along the way. Nothing goes right for either Schneider or Bax as they each try to take out the other, with a medley of minor characters getting in their way. All the action takes place in broad daylight, mostly in the reeds and swamp surrounding Bax's house. It's a fun romp despite the supposedly dark premise. The ending is surprising and quirky and I'm still working out whether I'm happy with it. (In Dutch with English subtitles.)

Evolution is a little weirder. Nicholas (Max Brebant) is a young boy living on a remote island, where all the womens are adults looking after, and experimenting on a group of young boys. The boys seem like normal kids, but nothing else about the island or its community is normal. Most of the scenes, whether interior, exterior or under water, are dark, and it's sometimes hard to see what exactly is going on. That supports the mystery. This was not one of the better films of the festival for me. It left too much unsaid, and the ending was also not really satisfying.

Schneider Vs. Bax is about death, but is presented in broad daylight with a light, quicky, funny tone. Evolution at its heart is about life and birth and change, but is presented in dark somber tones. The two films were as different as night and day.

TIFF Overview

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