TIFF Review Roundup: ‘Much Ado,’ ‘Pines,’ And ‘Passion’


The folks from Film.com are back with more reviews from the Toronto International Film Festival.

Today, we have opinions on Joss Whedon’s Shakespeare adaptation, “Much Ado About Nothing,” the divisive Ryan Gosling drama, “The Place Beyond the Pines,” and the latest from Brian De Palma, “Passion,” with Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace.

“The Place Beyond the Pines”
Grade: B

The real art of “The Place Beyond the Pines” is the innovative plot construct, which can only be compared to films such as “The Godfather” and “A Prophet.” No, “The Place Beyond the Pines” isn’t as good as either of those films, and it’s not nearly as watchable as either (less overall arc, too weighty throughout), but it certainly heralds the arrival of a vibrant director. It’s not the type of film anyone outside of “serious” film fans will have the patience for, but it’s no less the accomplishment for the total lack of comfort it provides an audience. -Laremy Legel

“Much Ado About Nothing”
Grade: B

Offered up as karmic balance for his billion-dollar superhero enterprise “The Avengers” from this summer, this tiny friends-and-family production has the vibe of a project done on weekends and after school. That’s no knock. It is vibrant and bubbly and just clever enough to engage people who wouldn’t normally watch a black-and-white micro-budget Shakespeare adaptation without any big movie stars. -Jordan Hoffman

Grade: C

I have no way of knowing what Brian De Palma’s intentions were in making “Passion.” If it was to make a riveting suspense film, then he surely failed. But if he’s intentionally tweaking the aesthetic of cheapo cable films from the 1990s and directing his stars to emote like porn actresses between sex scenes in the hope of prompting derisive yet supportive laughter, then mission accomplished. -JH

Grade: C+

Dear Neil Jordan’s “Byzantium,” It’s not you, it’s me. You are so beautiful, so earnest. You are going to make a moody, gothic fantasy fan so happy one day. And I’ll be there to cheer you on, proud of your world-building efforts, your evocative photography and unique mother-daughter dynamics. I’m so sorry I won’t be able to ever say I love you (or even like you), but I admire you, and I know that you’ll do well. -JH

“Hyde Park on Hudson”
Grade: D+

Good concept firmly in place, “Hyde Park on Hudson” spends the next hour making you reconsider its merit. A movie in desperate search of a point, “Hyde Park on Hudson” wants you to believe it’s kinda sorta about civilized adult relationships and the international tumult of war… before finally deciding it’s about nothing at all. The film then falls into a puddle and flails around haplessly, a stupefied gaze appearing on its eyes. Sad, really. -LL