Showing posts with label A Good Person. Show all posts
Showing posts with label A Good Person. Show all posts

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Some Good Movies You Might Have Missed in 2023

[I review "Past Lives," "Fair Play," "Anatomy of a Fall" and "A Good Person"]

Past Lives (2023)

Two childhood friends reunite 20 years later.

Na Young (Greta Lee) and Hae Sung (Teo Yoo) are 12-year-old classmates living in South Korea.  They really, really like each other, so it's devastating when Na Young's parents decide to immigrate to Toronto. Fast forward 12 years. Na Young has changed her name to Nora Moon and moved to New York City, and Hae Sung has just finished his military service in South Korea. When Nora discovers on Facebook that Hae Sung is looking for her, they reconnect through video calls, talking at all hours, but eventually Nora tells Hae Sung that they should stop talking so she can focus on her writing and her life in New York. At a writer's retreat, Nora meets Arthur (John Magaro), and they fall in love and marry.  Meanwhile, Hae Sung meets a woman he likes. 

Fast forward another 12 years. Now Hae Sung has broken up with his girlfriend, and he and Nora are back in touch.  Hae Sung makes plans to visit Nora in New York to finally see her and meet Nora's husband.  This brings up all kinds of insecurities for Arthur.  Did Nora marry him for a green card? But he takes it all in stride. The three go out to dinner and, speaking in Korean, Hae Sung wonders what Nora and he might have been in past lives and what would have happened if she had never left South Korea. What will happen?  Will these two get together?

This is what could be affectionately called a "small film," but this little film has already garnered 39 awards and is nominated for a Best Picture Golden Globe nomination and one for Lee for Best Actress. It was also on People Magazine's Top Ten films of the year.  Speaking of Lee, fans of "The Morning Show" will recognize her as Stella Bak, but in this film, Nora is a real departure from Stella as Lee shows her softer side. The yearning between Nora and Hae Sung is palpable.

Written and directed by Celine Song, this is a film that will resonate with you long after it's over. The past lives that Hae Sung wonders about could be about reincarnation - don't we sometimes wonder if we have known people in past lives? - but this film is not just about that, but rather all of the "past lives" we have had in one lifetime.  In my lifetime, I have moved across country three times, moved away from the town where I lived for 30 years and raised my children and then moved back, all past lives.  And I still wonder what I had left behind each time and what would have happened if I had stayed. This is a love story, but also a story about immigration, about leaving behind one life to have a new and better life.

Think about your own past lives, the moves you have made, the lives and people you left behind.  What if you had stayed? 

Rosy the Reviewer says...a tender, bittersweet and profound "what if" tale that will stick with you. (Amazon - in English and Korean with English subtitles)


Fair Play (2023)

What happens when she gets the promotion he wants.

Emily Meyers (Phoebe Dynevor, who you will recognize from "Bridgerton") and Luke Edmunds (Alden Ehrenreich) both work at One Crest Capital, a hedge fund.  They are both financial analysts, equals at work, and they are also in a secret passionate relationship, secret because fraternization at work is frowned upon. Though they live together, they leave for work and arrive separately and keep it totally professional at work.  Luke proposes to Emily while at his brother's wedding, and she happily accepts. All is hunky dory until one of the portfolio managers is fired and Emily gets the promotion, even though there had been rumors it would go to Luke.  When Emily tells Luke, he is first.  Well, you know how that works.

Slowly but surely Luke starts to feel resentful and tensions arise in their relationship. As Emily's star rises, Luke's starts to fall and it all goes to hell.

Written and directed by Chloe Domont, this is your classic case of what happens when the power dynamics in a relationship change and what can happen when a woman eclipses her lover, and let's just say that male fragility and misogyny ain't pretty. It's also about the cutthroat world of high finance and the sexism women face in that world. The screenplay is talky but sharp, and though much of it is the interaction between Emily and Luke, the film feels like a thriller as it leads up to the crazy ending.  Dynevor and Ehrenreich are just wonderful here, especially Dynevor who has now decidedly left the Regency world of "Bridgerton."

Rosy the Reviewer says...a riveting romantic thriller. (Netflix)

Anatomy of a Fall (2023)

Did he fall or was he pushed?

Novelist Sandra Voyter (Sandra Huller) and her husband, Samuel (Samuel Theis), live in an isolated mountain chalet near Grenoble.  Sandra is a successful novelist and is being interviewed by a female student when all of a sudden music starts to play so loudly that the interview is halted.  Samuel is up in the attic working and playing the music. When their visually impaired son, Daniel (Milo Machado Graner), returns from a walk with his guide dog, Snoop, he discovers Samuel dead below the attic window. What happened?

What follows is an intense search for the truth.  Did Samuel fall accidentally?  Was it suicide?  Or did Sandra push him?

Sandra asks for help from her lawyer friend, Vincent (Swann Arlaud).  She tells him that Samuel had attempted suicide six months earlier attempting to overdose on aspirin after he went off his antidepressants.  Daniel tells the police investigators conflicting stories and blood spatter and an audio recording of a fight between Samuel and Sandra lead to Sandra being indicted.

At the trial, the blood splatter testimony isn't good but the recording is damning.  In it, Samuel accuses Sandra of plagiarism, infidelity and trying to run his life, and it appears that violence occurs, though it is not clear who does what to whom. Sandra admits to having an affair with a woman the year before and the prosecution claims that Samuel was playing the loud music because Sandra was being interviewed by an attractive young woman and that a confrontation resulted after she left. Daniel asks to testify and this leads to some new revelations.

What is the truth?

Written by Justine Triet and Arthur Harari and directed by Triet, this is an anatomy of the fall of a marriage as much as an investigation into Samuel's physical fall as the trial progresses. The actors are wonderful, especially Huller.  Young Graner is also exceptional. For once a kid at the heart of the film that isn't obnoxiously precocious.

Winner of the Palme D'or for Best Film at the Cannes Film Festival, this is on many Best Movie lists for 2023, has already won many awards as well as a Golden Globe nomination for Best Picture, Non-English Language and a Best Actress nomination for Huller. It is a taut courtroom drama that tells the story of not just Samuel's fall but the fall of a marriage.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like your psychological dramas intense and complex, this is for you. (Amazon - In English and French with English subtitles)

A Good Person (2023)

Allison's life falls apart after a fatal accident.

Allison Johnson (Florence Pugh) is an aspiring musician, engaged to her high school boyfriend, Nathan (Chinaza Uche). The day following their engagement party, Allison causes an accident when she takes her eyes off the road to look at her phone while driving. She was on her way to look at wedding dresses with her soon-to-be sister-in-law, Molly (Nichelle Hines) and Molly's husband, Jesse (Toby Onwumere).  Molly and her husband are killed in the accident, but Allison survives with critical injuries. Sadly, when the physical injuries heal, the psychic injuries continue and affect two families.

One year later, dealing with severe depression and unable to deal with her guilt, Allison is living with her mother, Diane (Molly Shannon), and is addicted to the opioids prescribed for her injuries from the accident. Her prescription has run out and she is not doing well. Meanwhile, Nathan and Molly's ex-cop father, Daniel (Morgan Freeman), is taking care of his granddaughter, Ryan (Celeste O'Connor), who is still processing the loss of her parents. A recovering alcoholic, he is not doing very well either.

After bad experiences, Allison decides to attend AA where she runs into Daniel. Daniel has his own guilt over his drinking and the two forge a sort of relationship with Allison trying to help Ryan, who is not doing well in school and acting out.

Both Allison and Daniel relapse but both eventually come to terms with their lives in their own ways. Seeing how they do that is what will keep you engaged to the end.

Morgan Freeman really shows his acting chops in this film, especially in a scene in the AA meeting where he admits to his wrong-doing when drunk.  Very moving.  But this is Florence Pugh's movie.  She goes from happily in love to the absolute bottom and to quiet resolve and it's all shown on her expressive face. I could feel her emotions coming through the screen. She made me really root for Allison. Her performance is just wonderful and one that should be rewarded with an Oscar nomination. She is one of our best actresses today.

Written and directed by Zach Braff, there is a model train metaphor afoot in this film, model trains and villages acting as a sort of means of control over one's life.  You can set up your model village however you want, and your little figurines can live the life you never had. That is what Daniel has done, but in the end, he has accepted that in real life we can't really control what is going to happen. He accepts his life and teaches Allison to accept hers. Sometimes bad things happen to good people.

Rosy the Reviewer says...yes, it's all a bit grim but it's also inspiring, especially Pugh's performance. (Amazon)

Thanks for reading!

See you next time!

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And next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). Go to, find the movie you are interested in.  Scroll over to the right of the synopsis to where it says "Critic Reviews" - Click on that and if I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list (NOTE:  IMDB keeps moving stuff around so if you don't find "Critics Reviews" where I am sending you, look around.  It's worth it)!