Reviews: Unfriended, Get Up and Go, Argerich
Paul Whitington reviews this week's other big releases - Unfriended, Get Up and Go, and Argerich
For the first 20 minutes or so of Unfriended (4*, 16, 83mins) I was under the impression that I was watching yet another dumb-ass found-footage horror film. Then, little by little, I began to realise that something much more original and intelligent was in play. Written by Nelson Greaves and directed by Levan Gabriadze, Unfriended takes place entirely within the confines of a young woman's laptop computer screen, a daring ploy that sounds irritating and sometimes is. But a tight script and meticulous planning succeeds in making this technical gamble work.
High-school beauty Blaire (Shelley Hennig) is enjoying a titillating Skype call with her boyfriend Mitch (Moses Jacob Storm) when they're joined online by their friends Jess, Will and Jacob: we then hear how Blaire's friend Laura killed herself after a mortifying video was posted on the internet.
And then a mysterious correspondent appears on Skype and Facebook, accusing them all of being complicit in this crime.
Unfriended's plot is simple and ridiculous, but the film teems with sly jokes and clever commentaries on how we use the internet. The screen judders and pops as the teenagers use Facebook, Instagram and Google to try to navigate their way out of a virtual world that has become horribly real, and slowly realise that the things you do online can never really be erased.
I very much liked the languid style and easy fluidity with which Brendan Grant's hipster comedy Get Up & Go (3*, 15A, 99mins) unfolds. It's set on the bleary streets of post-recession Dublin and stars Killian Scott and Peter Coonan as two aimless young men whose friendship threatens to unravel during the course of one chaotic day.
Colin (Scott) dreams of becoming a stand-up comedian, but isn't very funny and is hopelessly in love with a tart young woman called Lola (Gemma-Leah Deveraux), who can't stand him. His best friend Alex (Coonan) goes out with Lola's sister Sinead (Sarah McCall). He's a lazy, commitment-phobic musician who plans to emigrate to London, and when Sinead tells him she's pregnant, he decides it's time to board that ferry.
Colin and Alex argue their way so impotently around the streets of inner city Dublin that they almost seem like a latter-day Vladimir and Estragon. Their dilemmas are amusing, and very modern, and while Get Up & Go ultimately runs out of steam and ideas, it's a likeable, witty drama, and Peter Coonan is terrific as Alex, a monster of self-absorption who can charm his way out of the tightest corners.
The pianist Martha Argerich (4*, No Cert, IFI, 100mins) seems pretty self-absorbed as well. In Argerich, a loving, scolding, almost painfully personal documentary, her daughter Stephanie Argerich Blagojevic examines both her mother's extraordinary musical success, and the impact her very unconventional lifestyle had on her children.
Raised in Buenos Aires, Argerich was only 24 when she became renowned as a great interpreter of Chopin.
International success followed, and the film's director is one of three daughters Martha Argerich had with different men.
Stephanie had a wild childhood, unpredictable and without limits, but one senses that she craved structure, and a dash of conventionality. Her portrait of her mother is deeply affectionate but also vaguely desperate, as though she's reaching for a connection to the mercurial Martha that continues to elude her.
So she follows her with her camera, this eccentric little woman who seems so gentle, almost innocuous, until she sits down at a piano and begins teasing out her glorious interpretations of Chopin, her eyes rising skyward now and then as though she's communicating with the great composer.