The Great Pretender
Director: Nathan Silver
Presented by: Nathan Silver
Starring: Esther Garrel, Keith Poulson, Linas Phillips, Maelle Poesy
2018, USA, 72 MIN, DCP
Nathan Silver (MdFF 2017’s Thirst Street) returns with another darkly humorous melodrama worth celebrating. The Great Pretender—a vivid stunner teasing comparisons to Fassbinder—chronicles a complex love triangle between a theatre director, her ex-boyfriend, and the two actors she casts to portray them. Employing a playfully chaptered assembly and contrasting modes of narration, the film hilariously pokes at each character’s self-indulgence en route to a gripping, dramatic finale.
Mona is a French playwright struggling for legitimacy off-off-Broadway. She’s mounting a performance based on the dissolution of her relationship with Nick—a brash character who woos her by interspersing vitriolic critiques of her work with mouth-open chewing. Mona tries to distract herself with her vapid lead actor Chris, but his co-star and personal obsessor Thérèse quickly becomes jealous.
Packed with impasto visuals of nostalgic inspiration, Silver’s film borrows saturated hues from ‘70s cult favorites and draws hazy glares reminiscent of Berlin Alexanderplatz’s drunken fourth episode. What keeps Pretender surprising however, is its wry sense of humor, which casts After Hours absurdity with the stoicism of Egoyan’s earliest, like Next of Kin. The result is an astute chorus of romantic misfires, as well as an exciting showcase of Silver’s maturing directorial sensibility. Don’t skip it. (Mitchell Goodrich)
MAGIC BULLET, Amanda Lovejoy Street, 2018, USA, 19 MIN
Parallel losses push strangers Rachel (Molly Parker) and Lia (Rosemarie DeWitt) into self-soothing rituals and self-destructive hazes, only to collide unwittingly on a regional Florida shopping network.
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