Sundance Film Festival 2022 Recap: Day Three

Sundance Film Festival 2022 Recap: Day Three

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 three had four films tapped for me with a wide range of genres, themes and positives.

Sebastian Stan and Daisy Edgar-Jones appear in FRESH by Mimi Cave, an official selection of the Midnight section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Fresh: Directed by: Mimi Cave

SYNOPSIS: Frustrated by scrolling dating apps only to end up on lame, tedious dates, Noa takes a chance by giving her number to the awkwardly charming Steve after a produce-section meet-cute at the grocery store.

This movie is absolute chaos in all of the right ways. First things first, Sebastian Stan is an absolute star. He is the scene stealer of the movie and brings charisma, seduction and just open goofiness to a film that is far from goofy. Someone on twitter said this best: he is the millennial version of Patrick Bateman, and I wholeheartedly agree. Daisy Jones is also fantastic in this project as well with incredible chemistry with Stan. The performances are the high point in this utterly wild feature.

I love the writing of this film. It lacks a true identity but that is so international. Is it a romcom? Is it a dark comedy or a deep horror film? I would argue it is all of the above. The story is easy enough to follow and allows you to just experience the visuals and the dialogue. So well executed. The direction is fabulous with incredible cinematography and a brilliant creation of atmosphere. I will say no more because I want you to experience this crazy film for yourself.

Point Breakdown:

15 for Writing: 14

15 for Performances: 14

10 for Entertainment: 9

10 for Direction: 8

10 for Emotions: 9

5 for Cinematography: 5

5 for Score: 4

5 for Pacing: 5

15 for Technical: 14

5 for Rewatchability: 5

5 for Automatic: 5

Fresh: 92/100 | Grade: A-

RJ Cyler, Sebastian Chacon and Donald Elise Watkins appear in Emergency by Carey Williams, 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.

Emergency: Directed by: Carey Williams

SYNOPSIS: Straight-A college student Kunle and his laid-back best friend, Sean, are about to have the most epic night of their lives.

This is an extremely hard to watch and poignant film about the craziest night of three men’s lives. The biggest positives are the performances from our main three: Donald Watkins, RJ Cyler and Sebastian Chacon. The chemistry is key and the dialogue lands very well with all of them. It doesn’t work if they don’t perform, and they do it very well. The writing struggles, but the third act kicks that writing into overdrive in all of the best ways. A deeply rich story that tackles the issues of race in America but also challenges the themes of friendship at the core.

There are issues with this film though. The pacing gets really really rough in the middle of the film. The first act is a very fun college comedy and the third act is an incredibly powerful thriller/drama. In between, it dragged and got really really slow. Some of the performances are also rather unbearable to me as well. It might be the writing, but I just didn’t buy what they were going for. I can understand it, I just didn’t think it was executed great.

Point Breakdown:

15 for Writing: 11

15 for Performances: 12

10 for Entertainment: 7

10 for Direction: 8

10 for Emotions: 7

5 for Cinematography: 3

5 for Score: 4

5 for Pacing: 3

15 for Technical: 12

5 for Rewatchability: 3

5 for Automatic: 5

Emergency: 75/100 | Grade: C

Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

The Princess: Directed by: Ed Perkins

SYNOPSIS: Decades after her untimely death, Princess Diana continues to evoke mystery, glamour, and the quintessential modern fairy tale gone wrong. As a symbol of both the widening fissures weakening the British monarchy and the destructive machinery of the press, the Princess of Wales navigated an unparalleled rise to fame and the corrosive challenges that came alongside it. Crafted entirely from immersive archival footage and free from the distraction of retrospective voices, this hypnotic and audaciously revealing documentary takes a distinctive formal approach, allowing the story of the People’s Princess to unfold before us like never before.

This story has been told time and time again but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it is damn interesting to revisit. Diana is one of the most polarizing people in human history and her story continues to be documented in different ways, shapes and forms. I never knew the full timeline of Diana’s life so to see it fully play out is shocking and impactful. Made entirely of archival and found footage and without normal documentary narration, you felt like you were really there and I respected and enjoyed that. A well put together documentary.

Point Breakdown:

15 for Writing: 13

15 for Performances: 11

10 for Entertainment: 7

10 for Direction: 8

10 for Emotions: 8

5 for Cinematography: 4

5 for Score: 5

5 for Pacing: 3

15 for Technical: 13

5 for Rewatchability: 4

5 for Automatic: 5

The Princess: 81/100 | Grade: B-

Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

2nd Chance: Directed by: Ramin Bahrani

SYNOPSIS: In 1969, bankrupt pizzeria owner Richard Davis invented the modern-day bulletproof vest. To prove that it worked, he shot himself — point-blank — 192 times.

There are so many documentaries that are released every single year and this one falls in with the crowd. I was very interested to see due to the very intriguing subject matter, but was left with a rather normal taste in my mouth. 2nd Chance didn’t do anything for me. Rather formulaic and regular documentary that doesn’t do anything to push the table forward or to elicit any emotion whatsoever. It had some nice interviews and told a very interesting story, but went along being a rather normal documentary. I didn’t hate it at all, just didn’t love or react to anything particularly about it.

Point Breakdown:

15 for Writing: 9

15 for Performances: 10

10 for Entertainment: 7

10 for Direction: 8

10 for Emotions: 7

5 for Cinematography: 4

5 for Score: 3

5 for Pacing: 4

15 for Technical: 12

5 for Rewatchability: 3

5 for Automatic: 5

2nd Chance: 72/100 | Grade: C-

Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Resurrection: Directed by: Andrew Semans

SYNOPSIS: Once there was a woman named Margaret whose life was under control. She was disciplined and vigilant which made her strong and made her successful. It made her able to raise her daughter, Abbie, all by herself. Soon Abbie will be going off to a fine university, just as planned. Everything was under control. That is, until David, a monster from her past, came back.

There is no doubt that the main performances in this film are absolutely fantastic. Rebecca Hall is absolutely game-changing throughout, cementing that she is one of the best working in the industry today. Watching her slowly move deeper and deeper into insanity is absolutely incredible and very impressive. It was truly a feat of acting. Tim Roth is another character completely, playing a calm but very demented charater who is very controlling the entire storyline. Without his menacing presence, the film would have not been able to move forward.

The performances are the saving grace of this rather lackluster and rather confusing film. The writing struggles heavily beyond the actual character. The story, while rather simple in the synopsis, really loses track as it continues on. It went from psychological thriller to absolutely crazy/mental mystery. As the story continued to unfold, instead of answering questions like a normal mystery would, we were left with more and more questions than before. 

Resurrection is a dark and disturbing film that had lots of good ideas and was anchored by a brilliant cast with incredible performances from Rebecca Hall and Tim Roth. The slow burn of insanity shown by Hall is incredibly impressive and very disturbing. Unfortunately, the writing is just too lackluster, confusing and just plain bonkers, and not in a good way. I wanted to love this film, I wanted to be fully involved, but the really poorly written and confusing ending really kills it for me.

Point Breakdown:

15 for Writing: 9

15 for Performances: 13

10 for Entertainment: 7

10 for Direction: 7

10 for Emotions: 6

5 for Cinematography: 3

5 for Score: 3

5 for Pacing: 3

15 for Technical: 12

5 for Rewatchability: 3

5 for Automatic: 5

Resurrection: 72/100 | Grade: C-

American actress Lucille Ball (1911 – 1989) with her husband Desi Arnaz (1917 – 1986), circa 1953. (Photo by FPG/Getty Images)

Lucy and Desi: Directed by: Amy Poehler

SYNOPSIS: Lucille Ball had an immense influence on the creation of TV syndication, as she rose to become a true entrepreneur and multifaceted mogul. Through interviews and archival footage, this documentary is a tribute to one of the greatest trailblazers in comedy and entertainment.

Directed by Amy Poehler, this was one of my most anticipated documentaries just to see what she could do, but I also wanted to truly learn about one of, if not the most famous couple in the history of TV. This was a fascinating documentary that didn’t just highlight the life of Lucy, but also went in depth on Desi and his contribution as well. Made with a combination of archival footage and sound woven with in-person interviews, Lucy and Desi was a really nice documentary with a very emotional ending. Nothing groundbreaking, but certainly well put together.

Point Breakdown:

15 for Writing: 12

15 for Performances: 12

10 for Entertainment: 7

10 for Direction: 8

10 for Emotions: 8

5 for Cinematography: 4

5 for Score: 4

5 for Pacing: 4

15 for Technical: 13

5 for Rewatchability: 4

5 for Automatic: 5

Lucy and Desi: 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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