Edinburgh Film Festival: Away We Go, Mesrine, Last Heroes of the Peninsula reviews

Daniel's latest update from the Edinburgh Film Festival features Sam Mendes' new film, and the crime saga Mesrine...

So the festival is well and truly underway. And because I’m writing this before Van Diemen’s Land (v.v.v. excited), I’m going to do this in slightly less rambling form: no more than 150 words per film! Oh, and I should admit now I saw only two of the films that I promised to write about in yesterday’s post – that Fish Tank review will have to wait for Monday.

Away We Go A change of pace for filmmaker Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road), the opening night film tells the story of Verona (Maya Rudolph) and Bert (John Krasinski), a couple expecting a baby who are rocked by the announcement that their prospective parents-in-law are leaving the States. Uncertain where exactly to live, the pair hit the road in search of a new location to raise their child. And that’s it, really. Away We Go is watchable, funny and well-crafted but maybe a bit too lightweight a work to expect from Mendes. However, if approached with the right frame of mind, Away We Go works wonders, feeling more and more like an ideal movie for a sleepy Sunday afternoon. That’s a compliment, by the way.

Mesrine: Killer Instinct and Public Enemy No.1 This mammoth crime saga plays out the life of notorious French criminal Jacques Mesrine (Vincent Cassel) over four hours of shoot-outs, gorgeous women and grandstanding speeches and – surprise! – it’s overstuffed. Whilst Steven Soderbergh’s Che (comparable not only in length but in ambition) deconstructed a near-mythical figure to little more than his actions and made him interesting again, director Jean-François Richet shows nothing but actions and therefore sucks all the drama out of the picture(s). Cassel is fine as Mesrine, especially when he’s chewing the scenery or escaping from prisons, but visibly can’t relax when confronted with all the emotional stuff (I guess there’s no turning back after murdering someone with a fire extinguisher). There’s a great film hidden here somewhere: Mathieu Amalric is electric in PE1, Richet knows how to stage a good setpiece and there’s oodles of style, but it’s a prime example of a missed opportunity.

The Last Heroes Of The Peninsula A charming documentary that looks into the lives of five ex-world champions, all of whom are from Yucatán in Mexico. First we learn of all their rises to the top, narrated with great passion from those that were involved in the argued ‘golden age of boxing’ and punctuated with grainy yet thrilling VCR footage of the fights that propelled them to fame. But with a rise, there must be a fall, and José Manuel Cravioto’s debut concerns itself with just what happens to legends when they leave the ring. We meet boxers who were knocked back by alcoholism, bad business deals and international apathy – pugilist Miguel Canto, a star in his country, hasn’t even had his image placed on the World Council Boxing Hall of Fame. Even though the film shows these men troubled, they are not down, their love for the sport reminding us: once a legend, always a legend.

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Right: Van Diemen’s Land in fifteen minutes. If I’m lucky, tomorrow I’ll get to see Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo do a live show from the Edinburgh Filmhouse and hopefully catch screenings of the hotly tipped Outrage and Sin Nombre. Til tomorrow, folks!

Twitter.com/sitartattoo for regular updates. It’s off the heezy or something like that…