Verge at Sundance Film Festival: London 2018: Guide #2

Verge’s coverage of the Sundance Film Festival: London continues with two more feature film recommendations. For more information about the festival, click here, and continue to look out for more coverage coming later this week.

The TaleThe Tale stars Laura Dern as Jennifer Fox in a true, excruciating story about the sexual abuse that Fox faced as a young teenager. The film shows Fox as an adult who discovers a story she wrote for English class when she was younger, and flashes back to when Fox was a teenager to tell the story. Isabelle Nélisse plays the young Jenny, who goes to horseback riding camp with a charming, beautiful teacher, Mrs. G. Mrs. G introduces Jenny to Bill, a running coach who takes a special (inappropriate) interest in Jenny. The Tale takes childhood sexual abuse, an experience that is devastatingly common, and explores how it may affect one’s life.

The trigger warning that plays before this movie is absolutely necessary, and should be taken seriously. This movie is raw, powerful and emotional, and it handles some extremely uncomfortable situations almost a little too effectively.

Directed by: Jennifer Fox

Principal cast: Laura Dern, Isabelle Nélisse, Jason Ritter, Elizabeth Debicki, Ellen Burstyn, Common

Rating: 4/5

First Reformed

Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Ethan Hawke stars as Reverend Ernst Toller, a divorced parish priest at a small church in New York. Reverend Toller meets a pregnant member of the church, Mary, and her husband, Michael, when Mary asks the reverend to counsel her husband, who is an extreme environmentalist. The counseling does not last for long, and the film becomes devoted to how Toller wrestles with his faith and struggles with the church, as well as how he handles his failing health and poor mental condition. Hawke does an amazing job in this role, creating a character who is slightly socially awkward but whose powerful emotions and struggles are one of the strongest parts of the film. First Reformed combines environmentalism, religion, and romance in an intriguing way to make a fascinating film. It will be making its UK premiere at Sundance on 1 June.

Directed by: Paul Schrader

Principal cast: Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried, Cedric Kyles, Victoria Hill

Rating: 4/5