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The surprise Oscar nomination of impressionistic “Hale County This Morning, This Evening” suggested a broadening of acceptance towards documentaries well beyond standard “Just the facts, ma’am” territory. Still, juggling style and substance will always be a tricky matter in that form, as evidenced by a film such as “The Magic Life of V.” This latest from Bulgarian-Finnish nonfiction director Tonislav Hristov is so invested in looking like a polished narrative feature that it seems downright uninterested in providing basic intel about its subjects.
That’s a problem, since this is no abstract slice of evocative atmosphere, but a movie about a real-life young woman dealing with family issues of alcoholism and mental disability. It’s not enough for the film to look great; can’t we get some actual insight, too? The alluring craftsmanship will no doubt keep “The Magic Life of V” — which premiered at Sundance en route to the Berlinale — busy on the festival circuit. But it’s likely to frustrate viewers who hope to actually learn something about the people being so carefully photographed.
Anyone - Sundance - Film - Black - Man
Why Anyone Can Relate to Sundance Film 'The Last Black Man in San Francisco'
We meet Veera as an apparent teen participating in an elaborate LARP event in rural Poland, where she and others don ankle-length robes to combat “demons” in a Hogwarts-type environ. These “live action role plays” have a therapeutic as well as escapist effect for many, as evidenced by the occasional tears, and Veera’s own emergency session with a staff “counselor” when “things hit too close to home.”
Games - Emotions - Past - Behaviors - Father
She seems to attend such large-scale games fairly often, using them to work through emotions otherwise suppressed. They’re primarily rooted in the abusive past behaviors of the volatile, hard-drinking father she’s now estranged from, in particular his treatment of her older brother Ville. Both siblings have been bullied,...
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