Good Manners screens tonight at 9:30p at Plaza Frontenac, and Sunday 11/11 at 8:20p at Plaza Frontenac. Get tickets here.
Quick Hit: Beautiful and strange, this movie could be split into two equal parts.
Hello everyone! It’s that time of year once more as St. Louis International Film Festival rolls into St. Louis and takes the film community by storm. I know there are coverage at a variety of sites, including the esteemed We Are Movie Geeks, but I’m honored you’ve chosen to come to our slice of the world at DoubleFeaturePreachers. We’re covering more of SLIFF than we ever have this year, and I’m excited to get started!
My first film of SLIFF was today’s film, Good Manners, and it was one of the few that I popped up on my radar immediately. Anytime something pops up in the horror section of a festival, I’m immediately clued in – and this one had good reviews going for it as well. The film follows Carla (Isabél Zuaa) as she begins to work for pregnant Ana (Marjorie Estiano). The first hour of the film is a beautiful depiction of race relations, as well as Carla’s maturation, who is slowly blossoming in confidence as the film progresses. There are some really terse moments as Carla comes to grips with how Ana sees her, and some really beautiful moments as Ana’s thoughts change from slight prejudice to some genuine love.
Then the film turns on a dime, and all of a sudden it’s very obviously a horror film, complete with some awesome gore to go with it.
There is some amazing strangeness that is built into the film. There are some hand-painted backgrounds that add some real depth to different scenes. Near the middle of the movie, a flashback is told in a almost stop motion drawings. Music is a huge part of the film, making returns throughout the story over and over. There are even moments where some characters break into song. It all adds to the surreal feeling that builds in different moments in the movie until the respective climaxes hit.
There’s some real fear that is built up into the second half of the movie. Closed malls are always a bit creepy (places that are supposed to have people that don’t just are by nature), and setting the first transformation we see in this environment is a pretty good idea. I also liked the transformation effects – there was obvious tribute to the granddaddy of all transformation scenes (American Werewolf in London), but there was enough there that made it feel as if it was its own.
The acting throughout is pretty good – though there are some issues with young Lobo’s acting because it’s just inconsistent. Zuaa, however, knocks the whole movie out of the park. Her role changes throughout the film (see the next paragraph for my thoughts on this) and yet she lands softly into both parts. There is nothing but from consistent greatness from her.
The biggest problem with this one is the fact that the two tones don’t quite mix like you’d hope them to. When I said it seemed like it was two different movies, it really and truly feels that way – almost as if in the middle of the film they stopped and decided to start over. You probably could have made two films out of this one, and they both would have been excellent, and instead we ended up with a film that was simply very good.
But hey – it’s still a very good film, and I think a lot of horror fans will like the variety it brings. I’m giving it a “B+”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"