Sundance 2022 Day 2 Recap
Time for recaps of the three films that were on my slate for Day 2 of the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Check out my thoughts on 892, Call Jane and Watcher. Be sure to check back tomorrow and throughout the rest of the festival for more!
John Boyega gives the best performance of his career in 892, a movie that tells the story of Brian (John Boyega), a man who out of pure desperation walks into a bank one day and informs the teller that he has a bomb that will destroy them all unless his demands are met. The entirety of the film is basically everyone--from the two bank employees, the news, the police, and his family--trying to reason with him and understand his plight. Unfortunately, the tension needed to keep this film going isn't sustained through its runtime and midway through the film starts to lag a bit. 892 would have greatly benefited from some tighter editing to keep the pace up, but as it is, this just didn't bring me into the narrative the way I hoped. Still, the performances here are all fantastic and it is well worth a viewing, especially in the commentary it makes on the hopeless situation many veterans face. RATING: 6.5/10
Call Jane takes a close look at the fight for reproduction rights in the late 1960's. The story follows Joy (Elizabeth Banks), a pregnant housewife who is told one day that her pregnancy will likely result in her death. After appealing to her hospital for a rarely approved abortion, she is told that her plight is impossible. Joy feels that she has more to do with her life and doesn't want to leave her teenage daughter and husband. She soon learns about a group that calls themselves "The Janes" who help women with their unwanted and unsafe pregnancies. Joy's life is changed as she spends more and more time with these women and begins to see a new perspective on life. Elizabeth Banks is great here and really gets a nice character arc to sink her teeth into with Joy. Still, I felt like the second half of the film started to feel a bit repetitive and we never really get a moment with her where she shares what she's gained from all of this and what it means to her. That's not to say there aren't some really effective moments to be found here that leave an impact, but overall the sum of the whole is not greater than its parts. Instead of showing scenes that would depict growth in characters, we're simply told about it in an epilogue-like narration. Ultimately I feel like the movie loses its focus and tries to do too much, feeling a bit scatterbrained with the various storylines it introduces in its second half that essentially go nowhere (for example, not sure I've ever seen Kate Mara wasted like this in such a throwaway role). RATING: 6.5/10
Watcher forgets the first rule of slow-burn horror, which is that you eventually have to dial up the heat throughout the course of the film if you want that ending to actually boil. Instead, Watcher just coasts on creepy vibes and thinks that's enough instead of increasing the tension our heroine faces. By the end of the film, it still felt like not much had happened apart from some creepy reverse Rear Window moments of feeling watched. By horror movie standards this is the type of buildup that happens in the first fifteen minutes...not the whole runtime. Maika Monroe gives an effective performance, but I would have loved to delve deeper into her character and what drives her. How does she actually feel about being so isolated? What was her past that led her here? There are throwaway lines, but not enough to really know who she is and why we should care about her terror. I get the idea of minimizing what she's going through to keep the viewer guessing, but there's a fine line between having that be effective or dull. By the time we get to the ending, it just feels too little too late. Had the story been structured so that certain scenes happened earlier, I think it would have worked a lot better. But unfortunately as is, Watcher is a missed opportunity. RATING: 5/10