film fatales #134: high life (claire denis, 2018)
dune (denis villeneuve, 2021)

film fatales #135: the last days of chez nous (gillian armstrong, 1992)

This is the twenty-sixth film I have watched in "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2021-22", "A 33 week long challenge where the goal each week is to watch a previously unseen feature length film from a specified category." This is the 7th annual challenge, and my third time participating (my first year can be found at "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2019-20", and last year's at "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2020-21"). Week 26 is called "Southern Exposure: Gillian Armstrong Week":

Most well known for her period dramas, Gillian Armstrong is an Australian director whose work tends to focus on relationships, as well as on the lived experiences of women. As a bonus, her filmography includes both feature narratives and documentaries, so you have a choice here.

This week's challenge is to watch a previously unseen film directed by Gillian Armstrong.

I looked forward to this challenge. I've enjoyed several of Armstrong's movies over the years, especially My Brilliant Career, but haven't written about her work for some reason.

I had trouble figuring out the exact relationships between the various members of the unconventional family in The Last Days of Chez Nous, not because the screenplay was confusing, but because of the casting. Lisa Harrow, who plays Beth, the female lead, was 49 when the film was made. Bruno Ganz, who plays her partner, was 52. So far, so good. Miranda Otto is Beth's daughter, and Otto was 25, which works, except in the film, Annie appears to still be a teenager (and Otto looks young enough to pull it off). Finally, the wonderful Kerry Fox, who plays Beth's younger sister Vicki, was 26 at the time. How Beth ended up with Fox as a sister and Otto as a daughter threw me off until I finally decided to just go with it. The performances are all good, and others might not find the various ages of the various actors to be confusing.

The plot has elements of traditional melodrama, but Armstrong and screenwriter Helen Garner aren't interested in stereotypical characters, so the melodrama is underplayed, and the characters are engrossing in part because they seem like real people. Armstrong and cinematographer Geoffrey Simpson rely a lot on closeups that work best when the acting is less emotive.

Other Challenge choices included Charlotte Gray.

[Letterboxd list of Film Fatales]


Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)