Sundance Film Festival 2022 Recap – Day Two

The Sundance Film Festival is one of the most well-known and renowned film festivals in the United States that feature 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. Day two had four films tapped for me with a wide range of genres, themes and positives.

Colin Farrell appears in After Yang by Kogonada, an official selection of the Spotlight section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Benjamin Loeb / A24. All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or ‘Courtesy of Sundance Institute.’ Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

After Yang: Directed by: Kogonada

SYNOPSIS: When his young daughter’s beloved companion, an android named Yang malfunctions, Jake searches for a way to repair him. In the process, Jake discovers the life that has been passing in front of him, reconnecting with his wife and daughter across a distance he didn’t know was there.

One of the films I was really looking forward to checking out since the slate was released. This was my introduction to Kogonada and I was very happy to say I was surprised at how much I loved the style of the film. The technical aspects are really what shines through. Everything from the set design, to the score and the cinematography are all very delicate and meticulous in all of the right ways. 

The cast from top to bottom is nothing short of spectacular. Gripping, emotional and powerful. Colin Farrell is especially fantastic as per usual. The thing that really impacted me the most though is the writing. This is a brilliant look at life, identity and what it means to be human. The themes of grief and humanities reliance on technology run through and leave a mark. A film that I was not expecting to move me as much as it did.   

Point Breakdown:

15 for Writing: 12

15 for Performances: 13

10 for Entertainment: 8

10 for Direction: 8

10 for Emotions: 8

5 for Cinematography: 5

5 for Score: 5

5 for Pacing: 4

15 for Technical: 13

5 for Rewatchability: 4

5 for Automatic: 5

After Yang: 85/100 | Grade: B

Bill Nighy appears in Living by Oliver Hermanus, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Number 9 Films/Ross Ferguson. All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or ‘Courtesy of Sundance Institute.’ Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

Living: Directed by: Oliver Hermanus

SYNOPSIS: Adapted from the 1952 Japanese film Ikiru directed by Akira Kurosawa. Set in 1952 London, it depicts a bureaucrat facing a fatal illness.

My favorite film of the festival so far, and by far. This, like After Yang, is an incredible look at humanity, but this time examining the themes of living life and what is really important in the limited time that you have. The writing is the real strong suit with an extremely tight and fast-paced script with some of the best emotion that I have experienced in a film this year. I really really fell for the emotion of Living.

The performances are the definition of good enough, except for the wonderful Bill Nighy who delivers a very low-key but extremely impactful performance. The film does not work if our lead is not someone we can attach to, and Nighy delivers and more. Based on the popular film “Ikiru” I knew we were in for a truly special experience, and it absolutely lived up to the expectation. Like I said before, my favorite film of the festival so far.

Point Breakdown:

15 for Writing: 14

15 for Performances: 13

10 for Entertainment: 8

10 for Direction: 8

10 for Emotions: 10

5 for Cinematography: 4

5 for Score: 4

5 for Pacing: 4

15 for Technical: 13

5 for Rewatchability: 5

5 for Automatic: 5

Living: 88/100 | Grade: B+

Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Call Jane: Directed by: Phyllis Nagy

SYNOPSIS: A married woman with an unwanted pregnancy lives in a time in American where she can’t get a legal abortion and works with a group of suburban women to find help.

The cast here is really the star, rightfully so, as said above, this was the main draw for me to check out this film. Elizabeth Banks is the clear star here and delivers one of her best performances and Kate Mara, no matter how big or small the role, delivered a really good and solid performance, but the star of the show is honestly Sigourney Weaver. She is the true star of the show bringing unexpected lightheartedness and charisma to a film that should be the opposite of that.

This is probably the hardest and most uncomfortable film of the festival so far and that is a very important factor. The themes and topics discussed are very real and very important, but also at times very hard to talk about. I think this film does a great job at unexpectedly making the film uplifting and funny at times while also being an extremely serious drama. While being incredibly impactful, the writing does struggle. The pacing really does drag here and the story is highly predictable. That combination steals from the potential that Call Jane had. A really effective job at introducing us to these topics, but poorly executed in the end.

Point Breakdown:

15 for Writing: 11

15 for Performances: 13

10 for Entertainment: 7

10 for Direction: 8

10 for Emotions: 8

5 for Cinematography: 3

5 for Score: 4

5 for Pacing: 3

15 for Technical: 10

5 for Rewatchability: 3

5 for Automatic: 5

Call Jane: 75/100 | Grade: C

Regina Hall appears in Master by Mariama Diallo, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or ‘Courtesy of Sundance Institute.’ Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

Master: Directed by: Mariama Diallo

SYNOPSIS: Three black women who strive to find their place at the celebrated Ancaster College, an elite university in New England. The school was built on the site of a Salem-era gallows hill and the ghostly legacies of Puritan-era persecution haunt the campus in an increasingly supernatural fashion.The plot examines how each of these women will — or won’t — survive in this space of privilege.

This is an incredibly chilling and haunting psychological thriller that is focused on racism in America and the divide that still exists today. The performances are the best part of this film with Regina Hall and Zoe Renee holding the most stakes and therefore giving the most powerful performances. Renee in particular is someone to watch out for in the future. The technical is a huge shining factor that adds to the horror elements, much like the popular The Invisible Man released in 2020. Everything from the lighting to cinematogery to sound and set design all contributed and was very welcome. 

The writing is a struggle throughout the runtime of the film. The first part is the scares. While I like the psychological aspect of the film a lot, I could see that they wanted to be more than that with some visual horror elements, but we never got to the point. They held back and never looked for the full potential. The other major factor is the sense of finality and the tying up of storylines. Things happen very abruptly and suddenly in this film, to the point of questioning what the hell is going on. There are also so many unanswered questions that desperately need to be answered in the end. A film that does a lot right, but holds itself back from being truly great in the end.

Point Breakdown:

15 for Writing: 11

15 for Performances: 12

10 for Entertainment: 7

10 for Direction: 8

10 for Emotions: 8

5 for Cinematography: 5

5 for Score: 5

5 for Pacing: 4

15 for Technical: 13

5 for Rewatchability: 3

5 for Automatic: 5


Master: 81/100 | 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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