Two Dramas from Mongrel Media
In No Particular Order (December 9/15)
In No Particular Order casts Kristine Cofsky as Sarah, an affable twentysomething who decides to take a closer look at her aimless lifestyle in the wake of her older sister's marriage. Filmmakers Cofsky and Terry Miles have infused In No Particular Order with a subdued feel that effectively mirrors Cofsky's low-key screenplay, and there's little doubt that the movie's deliberate pace is initially offset by the strength of the various performances - with, in particular, Cofsky's engrossing turn as the sympathetic central character standing as a consistent highlight. And while there's no overlooking the film's rough-around-the-edges vibe - ie the low budget is never not apparent - In No Particular Order boasts a screenplay that's rife with cogent, truthful observations on various topics (including monogamy, relationships, job struggles, etc). It's rather unfortunate to note, then, that the film is ultimately unable to wholeheartedly justify its feature-length running time, as Cofsky and Miles offer up a padded-out second half that's overflowing with less-than-engrossing sequences (eg a rather endless dinner party). The progressively meandering atmosphere ensures that In No Particular Order quite palpably deflates before arriving at its conclusion, which finally does cement the picture's place as a well-intentioned yet terminally erratic misfire (albeit one that contains an admittedly great performance from its lead actress).
Son of Saul
Directed and cowritten by László Nemes, Son of Saul transpires during the waning days of the Second World War and follows Géza Röhrig's Saul Auslander as he attempts to arrange a proper burial for his deceased son (while also surviving the rigors of a Nazi deathcamp). There's no denying that Nemes does an absolutely spellbinding job of kicking off the proceedings, as Son of Saul opens with a riveting pre-credits sequence detailing the arrival and immediate extermination of Jewish civilians at the aforementioned deathcamp. It's a compelling, hard-to-watch sequence that ultimately stands as the film's high-water mark, as the movie's decidedly episodic narrative ensures that it's subsequently (and primarily) engrossing only in fits and starts - with the palpable lack of momentum making it more and more difficult to wholeheartedly sympathize with the central character's endeavors. Son of Saul nevertheless benefits from its fresh perspective on an oft-filmed scenario, with Nemes' consistently gritty approach going a long way towards perpetuating the movie's authentic feel. It's clear, too, that Röhrig's incredibly stirring performance plays an integral role in securing the film's mild success, although it is, in the end, fairly obvious that Son of Saul comes off as something of a disappointment given the inherently intense nature of its subject matter.