Sundance Film Festival 2022 Recap – Day One

The Sundance Film Festival is one of the most well-known and renowned film festivals in the United States that features the best that the indie film scene has to offer. The 2022 Sundance Film Festival has finally kicked off with a plethora of films from a wide range of locations, statuses and casts of characters. The major headliners for me to start the festival are two films with strangely long names that both involve the world. 

Finn Wolfhard and Julianne Moore appear in When You Finish Saving the World by Jesse Eisenberg, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Beth Garrabrant.

When You Finish Saving The World: Directed by Jesse Eisenberg

SYNOPSIS: Evelyn and her son, Ziggy, seek out replacements for each other. As Evelyn tries to parent an unassuming teenager at her shelter, Ziggy fumbles through his pursuit of a brilliant young woman at school.

This is a very mixed bag for me. On one hand I see a lot of positives. I really like the performances from our two leads, Finn Wolfhard and Julianne Moore. They both bring really interesting performances that achieve what they set out to do: hate the characters. You are not rooting for these characters at all and that is what writer and director, Jesse Eisenberg, set out to achieve. Speaking of Eisenberg, I think he brings some very promising direction to the table. He didn’t do anything to push the limits of filmmaking, but the cinematography is welcome and the style is pleasing.

This film has an identity crisis. The thing that most people agree on regarding the writing of this film is the lack of direction and lack of motivation to care. We are supposed to hate the character, yes, but there is never a real conclusion to their story. Like the main song of the movie says, our characters are two trains on parallel tracks that never intersect, even with the conclusion at the end. A lot of possibilities with some unmotivated writing. A perfectly fine film, but nothing revolutionary.

Point Breakdown:

15 for Writing: 10

15 for Performances: 12

10 for Entertainment: 7

10 for Direction: 8

10 for Emotions: 6

5 for Cinematography: 4

5 for Score: 4

5 for Pacing: 4

15 for Technical: 11

5 for Rewatchability: 4

5 for Automatic: 5

When You Finish Saving The World: 75/100 | Grade: C

The Worst Person In The World: Directed by Joachim Trier

One of my most anticipated films of the festival by far due to all of the hype that the film has received. This film is an epic spanning four years and told in 12 chapters with a prologue and epilogue. Once again this was a mixed bag in my eyes. The performance from Renate Reinsve is absolutely mesmerizing and kept me involved throughout the film. The direction from Joachim Trier is almost dreamlike and surreal with some incredible cinematography. The second half of this film is so layered and emotional, drawing me in and keeping me intrigued and gripped for the rest of the run time. 

The film is not perfect, however. The first half of the film is incredibly slow and takes a lot of time to really find its footing. There are clear pacing issues here, but that is all fixed by the time you get to the second half of the film. The characters are also extremely likable. Yes, yes I understand. The film is literally titled The Worst Person In The World. I respect the accurate look at relationships and life, but the writing seemed to always move our main character down paths that made no sense and left a sour taste in my mouth. The technical aspects of this film are very strong, the main performance is dynamite and the final half of the film is great. Just have some very minor issues overall.

15 for Writing: 13

15 for Performances: 12

10 for Entertainment: 7

10 for Direction: 7

10 for Emotions: 8

5 for Cinematography: 5 

5 for Score: 4

5 for Pacing: 3

15 for Technical: 12

5 for Rewatchability: 4

5 for Automatic: 5

The Worst Person In The World: 80/100 | Grade: B-

Jack Lautaret is a banana meter approved film critic, the founder of the Jack Lautaret YouTube Channel and host of the Finatic Film Review Podcast. He is a member of the Online Film and Television Association. Twitter: @JackLautaret

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