Hannah Herzsprung’s amazing performance lasts longer than Four Minutes. Photo By Rendezvous With Madness Film Festival
Films can either make sense of all the madness in the world or become immersed in it. With selections about mental instability like Four Minutes, Blind and Gilles' Lilly, the Rendezvous With Madness Film Festival dabbles both ways.
Opening-night gala Four Minutes (Thursday, November 6, 7 pm; Rating: NNN) looks at the strained relationship between a pompous and stern prison piano teacher, Miss Krueger (Monica Bleibtreu), and her new manic protege, Jenny (Hannah Herzsprung), a convicted murderer with an abusive past.
The film plays all the familiar notes of a diamond-in-the-rough prison movie, including the obvious dramatic cheat of making a character more sympathetic. But it's enlivened by the raw power of its lead performance.
Herzsprung is ravishing as the tragic wild child. Her character has a lived-in quality that makes her seem right at home stealing cigarettes from a corpse or beating a security guard to a pulp. And at the dazzling recital at the end, Herzsprung does things with a piano you'd never have thought possible.
The Once Upon A Time program (Saturday, November 8, 7 pm) is all about allowing fairy tales to make sense of life.
The Victorian period piece Blind (Rating: NNN) follows the blooming romance between Ruben (Joren Seldeslachts), a young and raging blind man, and Marie (Halina Reijn), a physically and emotionally scarred albino woman who hides from human contact by retreating into books. It's a warped relationship that lacks chemistry primarily because the characters lack definition beyond what ails them.
However, Blind is worth a look if only for visionary director Tamar van den Dop and cinematographer Gregor Meerman's frosty aesthetic and delicate compositions. A scene where two hands fondle through a milky white veil is about as sensual as they come.
As an added treat, the evening features the short Gilles' Lily (Rating: NNNN), in which an adorable little child sees a frustrating family dinner with a senior suffering from Alzheimer's as an f-bomb laden fairy tale. It makes a rendezvous with madness sweet-tempered and magical.