Thursday, April 5, 2018

SFIFF 61 (aka, SFFILM Festival) Opening Night

This year's festival, which kicked off last night, seems to be having something of an identity crisis so far as its name is concerns, thus the strange title of this post. Nevertheless, the show goes on, as does this blog (apparently).

A Kid Like Jake

An adaptation of a stage play, this family drama on a contemporary topic probably played better on the stage than it does on the big screen. Claire Danes gives it her all in an attempt to capture the inner conflict of a "normal" mom (a white "progressive" lawyer who lives in Brooklyn) when forced to confront the gender-expansive play of her four-year-old son (he loves dressing up as a princess, playing with dolls, and is obsessed with The Little Mermaid).

But the screenplay, adapted by the playwright (Daniel Pearle), can't really pull off the complexity it's clearly aiming for. The surface plot, about New York private elementary school entrance criteria, is not compelling (at least to me). Yet the film offers its share of pleasures: Jim Parsons is great as the husband, a therapist whose off-kilter therapy sessions with Amy Landecker (also excellent) lighten the mood. And a dinner table conversation gone awry provides just the right amount of awkwardness, thanks to a cameo from Aasif Mandvi.

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