Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Showing at the Toronto International Film Festival: Blessed, directed by Ana Kokkinos

Synopsis from the TIFF website:

Filmmaker Ana Kokkinos last appeared at the Festival with The Book of Revelation, her third feature after Head On and Only the Brave. Fans of these powerful and provocative films will be enthralled with Blessed, for it shows us an evolving artist in full command of her craft as she tackles the subject of mothers and children.

Set in a working-class suburb of Melbourne over the course of one day and one night, the film introduces us to seven different children, none of whom live in circumstances that make it worthwhile to stay home. Each has a personal odyssey, with problems that need solving and messes that need cleaning up, and none of them can, at first, really articulate what they need and what they want. But they search for it anyway. When dawn breaks at the end of the night, we experience the same twenty-four hours from the point of view of the children's mothers. We learn so much more about these women than we could see when looking only through the eyes of their offspring. The mothers are hostages to their unspoken love for their children, and their powerlessness against it is achingly familiar to any parent. Toward the middle of the film, one of the mothers encounters one of the children, not her own, in a highly charged situation. Sensing his need, she quietly remarks, “Your mother loves you.” “No, she doesn't,” he replies, to which she responds, “Yes, she does – there's nothing she can do about it.”

Kokkinos has lived in Melbourne all her life, and her knowledge of and affection for the city is evident throughout the film. With a meaty and substantive script (based on the play Who's Afraid of the Working Class?) as bait, Kokkinos has gathered a remarkable cast made up of some of the finest actresses working in film today, including Frances O'Connor, Miranda Otto, Deborra-Lee Furness, Victoria Haralabidou and young Sophie Lowe, also appearing at this year's Festival in Beautiful Kate. Emotionally and structurally, Blessed is a challenging film, and like a cinematic fishnet, it casts itself wide and slowly draws everything in – and it's a good catch.

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