19 September 2015 | christian94
TIFF and Tim Godsall
Len and Company is a lean and mean cinematic machine. A gem of a genuinely funny, quirky and heart-warming film you don't want to end.
I saw an early morning screening at TIFF to a pleased crowd and with writer-director and the two lead actors.
Tim Godsall is a Toronto native who is behind some of the world's most innovative and funny commercials in most part including Axe and XBOX, but now he express himself fully in his first feature, filmed in Ontario but representing upstate New York contemplative country setting.
The character of Len, played brilliantly by Rhys Ifans, is the main draw of this story because it could have been a cliché rock star satyr, but breathes instead of freshness, frailty and lots of humanness without losing its rough edges and "coolness" factor. Balanced with a lost son looking for acceptance, estranged wife, friendly younger neighbour and a talented but tormented young artist (Zoe) played by Juno Temple, the story reaches a near-perfect portrayal of a man who had it all, but is lost in the world. This multi-character interplay is spot on from both acting and directing standpoint and you could see that a real synergy had developed between all of them.
Every scene had dramatic tension but with a lot of humour throughout and actual exploration of human, artistic, psychological and philosophical truths or realities. You got to know and care about all this characters, feel for them and laugh with them. See the world through their eyes for a while and wish maybe you could have been in their less than perfect world a little longer but also appreciating your less than perfect world more when the credits rolled all too soon.
Jack Kilmer plays the son, Max, in perfect opposition to Rhys Ifans, Juno Temple and the other supporting cast. He keeps the movie grounded and real as opposed to Len (and Zoe)'s eccentricities. But Len is Len and scenes like his autobiographic rant in the classroom are classic comedy at a high degree, but not without the levity and bitterness both felt by the character and omnipresent in the farce, making it never far-fetched.
Tim Godsall took the right script with the right people, added some choice music and made it magic! Script, silence, dialogue, images, music and mood mixed to perfection.
May we see more movies (and dare I say less commercials) from a clear storyteller with a welcome edge. Best movie of 2015 so far? You got it. Other critics point out some petty underutilization of some story elements, supporting acting (compared to Ifans unanimous monster performance) or pace (note: the movie seems to have been trimmed down from 102 to 97 mins). I rather see this film to be a self-contained contemporary concoction that does not try to be all-encompassing but rather fleeting but with feeling like all its characters. In this aspect, its achieves this with extraordinary efficacy. The emotions, laughter and struggle resonate and the resolution or (lacktherof) is a recipe for enjoyable repeat viewing.
Canada 2015 | 97 mins | Toronto International Film Festival | English