The third movie I saw at TIFF was regrettably Strange Weather. What I thought would be a gritty rural revenge film seen from the female perspective; turned out to be a sugar coated version of a gritty rural revenge film seen from a stereotypically female perspective.
Strange Weather is about a woman from the South (played by Holly Hunter) who finds out her deceased son’s friend has stolen his business ideas and was involved with his murder. She decides the take things into her own hands and goes on a road trip to find out the truth behind her son’s legacy.
Not to be funny but the best part about Strange Weather is the near end, where it actually seems gritty, intriguing and almost experimental compared to the rest of the movie. Holly Hunter has a gun pointed at her antagonist’s head and by the way the music hits and how direct and strip down the scene is orchestrated, you have no idea whether the trigger will be pulled. That being the only interesting scene in the movie, you unfortunately have to sift through self indulgent, trace the lines scenes with faux liberal imagines intended to seem indie and hip without realizing how obvious this is. To further that, one has to put up with scenes of extended meaningless character involved dialogue, explaining the plot and quirks of its characters no one has asked for. Scenes of enjoying long drives and basking in the summer sun when a easy listening track is played right over! Yeah, in a tale about gun revenge……..Leading to scenes of white understanding where Holly Hunter stumbles upon the aftermath of a Southern flood where black families are gathering their stuff from wreckage, and Holly Hunter asks the one white couple amongst the families as to what happened, not to mention how bizarre the black extras are filmed and how none of them speak a word. Now in the Q&A at TIFF with director Katherine Dieckmann and actor Holly Hunter, Katherine said she wanted to show a white mind being enlightened seeing the reality of black families, being the ones to always suffer in Southern floods. Ms. Dieckmann, I know you had the best intentions in mind, but maybe viewing black people as “other beings” and not giving the people speaking parts isn’t the best way to go about displaying social injustice. Also, obnoxiously holding on a shot of an interracial lesbian couple kissing probably isn’t the best way to show equality if it’s obvious you’re trying to sit at the “cool kids” table.
Holly Hunter does a great job as expected, but unfortunately her character clearly was directed to be cartoonish as oppose someone with a death wish who is upset and determined. Now an animated Holly Hunter isn’t a bad thing but in this context made me completely for forget at times I’m watching a revenge plot.
Katherine Dieckmann set out nothing more than to create a stereotypical film for middle aged white housewives and wants us to believe she’s hip, liberal and socially aware, but instead reminds us of a white feminist who thinks her antics will relate to a black females outlook. If you have a brain, best to leave Strange Weather at the door.
- Maurice Jones