She Who Must Burn (2014)
Up there with my favourite films of this year’s festival. It’s admirable enough as far as the intensity and raw truth of the performances, along with the anger and clarity of the direction and story (about rising tensions turning violent between anti-abortionists and a health counsellor running a planned parenthood clinic), but when you consider the fact that writer/director Larry Kent made this film at the ripe old age of 82, it’s nothing less than a wonder to behold.
Kent’s work with the actors and performance is as stunning in this as he was in his last film Exley (filmmakers really need to pay more attention to him as he is one director who knows how to get performances dripping with honesty) and that emotional complexity even helps override the tad too polemical treatment of the material. The final ending (I don’t mean The Wicker Man-style moment of the burning itself – that was harsh and incredible – but the ‘storm of righteousness’ scene that follows) suddenly and unfortunately leads the film into quasi- (if not fully-) religious territory, which I can only imagine was some misguided attempt at irony.
There’s also a few shots and decisions where I felt Kent was unnecessarily catering to the genre crowd (not surprising, considering this long-time respected-yet-woefully-far-under-the-radar Canadian director has recently garnered some well-deserved recognition at the genre Fantasia fest), but mostly the filmmaking is pretty fucking brilliant.
Deep love and respect to Mr. Kent. May he continue to rage.