Dilani Rabindran



Behindwoods at TIFF – Days 1 – 4, Lunchox, Denis Villeneuve


The 38th annual Toronto International Film Festival is in full swing, bringing together over 300 films from all over the world. Amidst all the star-studded fun of Hollywood A-listers and international movie stars descending on Toronto for 11 days, the world’s largest festival has been screening some of the year’s most powerfully moving, unabashedly hilarious and thought-provoking cinema from veteran and new filmmakers alike. Here is a sneak peek at just a few of Behindwoods columnist Dilani Rabindran’s favorite films of the festival so far.

PRISONERS – Director: Denis Villeneuve, USA

Prisoners is a 146 min rollercoaster that had the crowd at its world premiere practically unable to breathe for 140 minutes worth of it. In his first major Hollywood production Canadian gem Denis Villeneuve directs a jam-packed cast, including Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal in the lead, and creates a truly gripping tale of child abduction and the lengths a man will go to for his daughter and family. With a twisting story rooted in great performances, the director explained that all of the film’s characters are “prisoners of different things in the wake of tragedy”.  The film is not for the faint of heart, dealing with particularly harrowing subject matter, but it is a must-see for anyone who appreciates a truly well-told thriller. Villeneuve’s last feature film, Incendies, was nominated for an Oscar and it seems only right that Prisoners also earn significant award recognition, as well as supreme box office success.

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON – Director: Hirokazu Kore-Eda, Japan

Well-established Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-Eda’s moving drama about 2 families who learn their 6-year old sons were switched at birth poses a touching new look at the nature versus nurture debate in a society that places immense pressure on genealogy & bloodlines. The film won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival this year, and is a beautifully photographed piece, gently depicting the various cultural connotations of such a situation in Japan, but contains such personable characters that the film is entirely universal. No matter what your view on the topic going into the film, the story unwinds so poignantly that one cannot help but go back & forth on their own opinions. The movie also includes some of the most natural child acting I have ever seen in a foreign film; you wonder if the young ones even knew they were in front of a camera at the time.

THE LUNCHBOX – Director: Ritesh Batra, India/France/Germany

One of India’s best dramatic actors of the moment, Irrfhan Khan, returns to a full-fledged Hindi language romance, from debut director Ritesh Batra, about a rare mistake in the lunch delivery system of Mumbai that brings together a lonely housewife and grumpy widower. Batra originally began making the film as a documentary on the 125-year-old dhabbawallah community, but was inspired by true events involving friends, and eventually wrote this touching script, produced by Anurag Kashyap & his team.  It’s impossible not to fall for the crabby Khan with his portrayal of an old man who rediscovers his flirtatious youth; and with supporting actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui, of Gangs of Wasseypur fame, providing comic relief as an annoying co-worker the crowd laughed and “aww”-ed from start to finish.

BAD WORDS – Director: Jason Bateman, USA

Bad Words is that rare comedy that says and does everything you know is politically incorrect, but you just cannot help but laugh hysterically (albeit guiltily) throughout. Jason Bateman, a well-known American comedic actor whose past hits include TV’s Anger Management and the film Horrible Bosses stars in & directs (for the first time) a film about a 40-year-old high-school dropout who sets his sights on winning the national spelling bee for children, which he is able to enter on account of a technicality. Supported by the adorable 10-year-old Rohan Chand as an eager fellow-speller desperate to make a friend, Bateman does a phenomenal job at portraying the potty-mouthed jerk you can’t help but love, as well as at stylishly telling an original story & giving each of its various comedic actors ample chance to shine. A special mention must be made for the incredible Chand; together he & Batemen share the best on-screen bromance I’ve seen at the festival so far.

Stay tuned for more film highlights in Beyond Kollywood from the next 7 days of the Toronto International Film Festival!

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