42nd Toronto International Film Festival Coverage: Day Three

Saturday, September 9th, 2017 by Ian Evans

Saturday’s here, but there’s no rest for the filmgoers attending TIFF. Over at Roy Thomson Hall, director Paolo Virzì makes his English-language debut with The Leisure Seekers, which stars Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren as an elderly couple suffering from Alzheimer’s and cancer respectively. Trying to escape the suffocating care of their family and doctors, they fire up the RV and set off on a road trip across the U.S.

Sutherland told reporters that he knew and recognized his character of John and felt he could get near some of the truth of the character. Mirren hadn’t worked with Sutherland since 1990’s Bethune and didn’t actually have very many scenes with him in that film, so sharing the whole film together while being crammed into a tiny RV with faulty brakes was a lot of fun for her. As always, she said that the challenge for the actors is creating the intimacy of a lifelong couple when you’ve only really been together for a couple of weeks.

Up next was Haifaa al-Mansour’s Mary Shelley, with Elle Fanning in the title role and Douglas Booth portraying Percy Bysshe Shelley. The film traces how her young marriage to a womanizing debt-ridden poet living a life of debauchery led her to write Frankenstein.

Fanning said she thought that Mary saw herself as the Monster and Percy as Victor Frankenstein as he took her into his artistic world and in a way created her.

The day at Roy Thomson concluded with François Girard’s Hochelaga, Terre des Âmes (Land of Souls). The story spans 750 years of Montreal history as a sinkhole at a football game exposes an archaeological site that might be the location of Jacques Cartier’s meeting with the Iroquois people in 1535. From there, the film visits and revisits the area throughout the centuries.

Actor Raoul Max Trujillo told reporters that it was one of the first films to truly use Mohawk and that the Mohawk people can hear their language being used and feel proud.

Over at the Princess of Wales, director Sean Menard’s documentary The Carter Effect, produced by Drake, examines the basketball career of former Raptor Vince Carter and the city that loved him and he loved back. Drake was joined at the premiere by fellow producer LeBron James and current and former Raptors Patrick Patterson, Cory Joseph, Chris Bosh and Charles Oakley. Sadly, Carter could not attend.

Drake told the audience that Carter made him realize that you could be in Toronto and make it on the world stage. “It was confidence…the realization that it was attainable. This guy could come over here and lift us up. Imagine if it was one of us that could make it out there.”

LeBron James added that, “when any one individual can captivate a city, they’re going to support that individual for a long time. Vince had a whole country supporting him.”

From the doc, the next premiere was for George Clooney Suburbicon, which tells two very different stories in a supposedly idyllic 1950’s suburb.

Actress Julianne Moore said she was attracted to the film’s mix of comedy and gravity and that they were able to represent something that actually happened in U.S. history while showing how easily we can be diverted by something that takes attention away from the more important issue.

From there, the PoW played host to Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s The Current War, a drama that looks at the battle between Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch) and George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) and their competing standards for electrical distribution in the late 1800s.

Director Gomez-Rejon told reporters that the film is not just about the battle between AC and DC for distributing electricity, but more about the nature of winning and what defines greatness. Michael Shannon said that he didn’t know much about Westinghouse before, but was surprised to discover that a captain of industry in a position of power still maintained his humanity and his concern for the public at large.

One of the highlights for fans at the Elgin on Saturday was Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Killing of a Sacred Deer, which stars Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell and Alicia Silverstone in the story of a cardiac surgeon who develops a paternal relationship with a 16-year-old. When the young man ingratiates his way into the family, things start to get strange. The film is not for the faint-of-heart and elicits strong reactions on both end of the spectrum.

Over at the Ryerson Theatre, Louis C.K.’s self-financed I Love You, Daddy had its premiere. The story involves a TV writer father (Louis C.K.) whose teenage daughter (Chloë Grace Moretz) is being sought after by an aging director (John Malkovich). C.K. said that he and co-writer Vernon Chatman, “…were just talking about the fascination with people that there are stories about. People you love, in their work. It just sort of came up like, ‘Oh, what if one of them was f——— my daughter?’ “ With an origin story like that, it’s hard to see how C.K. can avoid answering questions about alleged sexual misconduct made by other comics.