Sundance Day 3 Recap
The festival is now halfway over and I finished my third day of movie watching by adding two more films to my watched list. I didn't really have high expectations for either film I had slated today, and somehow it happened to be my best day yet.
Emilia Jones is back yet again at Sundance starring in her fourth film for the festival. Here she reteams with Cat Person director Susanna Fogel to portray Reality Winner in Winner. Right from the get-go Winner is engaging as it gives a window into who the character is and the family life that shaped her. Winner is at its best when it focuses on these dynamics and it boasts a great supporting cast in these roles with Zach Galifianakis, Connie Britton, and Kathryn Newton.
In addition to its cast, it also boasts a sharp script that fluctuates between humourous and poignant moments with ease. Her story is continually captivating in showing the events that led her to make the decisions that ultimately cost her her freedom. I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect much from this film and figured it would be a dour, by-the-numbers espionage thriller. I certainly didn’t expect it to be as funny or entertaining as it was, let alone to have the tender moments that it did. And while it was all of those things, it didn’t sacrifice telling the hard truths of her story either. I was so pleasantly surprised with this film and once again Emilia Jones proves herself to be a Sundance MVP. I hope she keeps popping up in festival films for the foreseeable future because she always turns in really great work.
MY OLD ASS
Eighteen-year-old Elliott (Maisy Stella) can't wait to leave her small town behind for a bigger and better life away from her family once the summer ends. Then she can finally move away for college to be free to live her life the way she chooses and to finally get some space to become who she wants to be. On the night of her birthday, a drug trip magically allows her to come face-to-face with an older version of herself (Aubrey Plaza) who graciously imparts some pieces of wisdom to the younger Elliott.
Newcomer Maisy Stella is really wonderful as young Elliott, and she and Aubrey Plaza have a great rapport playing off one another. They totally have each other's mannerisms down and are believable at playing different versions of the same character. Aubrey’s Elliott feels lived in and she does a great job of conveying the regret one has over taking things for granted in her youth, while Maisy's Elliott is wide-eyed and hopeful at all the potential her future holds.
My Old Ass does a fantastic job of exploring the age-old concept of "If I could go back and tell my younger self one thing, what would it be?" The more life we live, the more we are able to see our past from a different perspective than we could while it was our present. So too with wisdom, sometimes the less willing we are to take risks. My Old Ass is surprisingly retrospective in ruminating how continually looking back at the past and only looking forward to the future keeps us from appreciating our present. By the end, My Old Ass becomes a beautiful coming-of-age story and if you know anything about me, when done right, films like these are among my absolute favorites. And yes, I even shed a tear or two in its final scenes.