Berlinale film reviews part I

Berlinale. Where to start my reviewing, where there was a pool of films to choose from? I wanted to mention few titles, that struck me the most the first couple of days of the festival, attempting to point out the highlights of the film I watched.

Side Effects

Side Effects – directed by Steven Soderbergh (2013), featuring Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Catherine Zeta Jones and Channing Tatum.

Side Effects is a thriller with a twist, about relationships, depression, treatments and pills. Being a film in competition on this years Berlinale, I had sort of curious nose when I read the synopsis for the first time. Emily (Rooney Mara) is a young and depressed poetic character, who tries to kill herself after her husbands return from jail. After the suicide attempt, she is ordered to see a psychiatrist, Jonathan Banks (Jude Law), that prescribes her with anti depressants pills. Emily is restlessly seeking for mental health, and asks for a new drug, Ablixa, after she hears that would make things better. Emily´s husband is found dead in their apartment, while she claims not to remember anything.

The film gives away numerous clues on the twists that are upon us, the character creation is splendid as is the directors strong vision, portrayed in this moody, atmospheric film. It is always refreshing to experience actors that you find familiar, for example Jude Law, in very believable situations. The film is also a commentator on the society that we live in, on the capitalistic way of medical drug usage, for healing problems that maybe never existed.


Salma – A documentary by Kim Longinotto (2013)

In the documentary Salma, a muslim woman who writes poetry in her fight for freedom in southern India, is portrayed in a very intimate way. In her society, girls that reach puberty are married, in arrangement that their families make. Salma refuses to do so for nine long years, and is locked away until she agrees on doing so. She starts to write poetry, that is published and as following she turns to political life alongside with her husband at first, fighting for freedom and independence.

This honest portrait of this adventurous life of Salma, reminds me on how life is, and how this struggle to change habits of other cultural areas through the medium of filmmaking is sometimes the strongest through the power of film. As a huge fan of Kim´s Longinotto films, I would recommend Salma highly for the importance of these stories she captures to be told to the outside world.

We were so fortunate to meet Salma herself after the screening, where she appeared for the Q&A. Sometimes it was hilarious to hear a question from the audience in German, that the host had to translate to English for Salma´s Indian translator. We found it very rewarding to meet Salma in person, without Longinotto´s presence that mirrored the exact same element as in the film itself.

lovelace d04 _24.NEF

Lovelace - directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (2012), featuring Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, Sharon Stone, Robert Patrick, Juno Temple and James Franco.

The film was a part of Berliinale´s Panorama Special category, a fictional film about Linda Lovelace, who was a pornographic icon from the 70ts for her role in the adult movie Deep Throat. The film showcases this world that Linda entered in her time, being a filmstar in one second after her short lived carrier in the porno industry. Several years later, Linda shattered peoples ideas about her as an actress, when she published her autobiography Ordeal, where she described abusive and violent marriage to her manager Chuck.

The film is very believable for its film setting and costumes. There is a glamourous tone portrayed throughout the film, the characters are playfully set up to comment on this reality of the 70s porn industry. The film was maybe too American for my personal taste, but all in all it was a good and entertaining film never the less. But it fell short in comparison to what the potential of this material had to offer in my opinion, even though the family of Linda, that now rests in piece, was happy about the outcome the filmmakers said.

In the coming days I will follow up on Berlinale, with more reviews and more experienced filled posts as I ponder upon the topics and visuals I want to put out there. I am now soon off to Iceland again, but stay tuned!

Words & photo: Ása Baldursdóttir
Photos of Salma: Veera Pitkanen