"Developing" is a short film, dealing with breast cancer in a single mother. As well as dealing with the disease she also has to bring herself to level with her daughter, who is just barely... See full summary »
Mary Ann Hannon
Every year the Viennale invites a famous director to produce a short film as the festival trailer. In 2013 the choice has fallen on Iranian-American artist Shirin Neshat, world-renowned for... See full summary »
This is interesting--a short film directed by Natalie Portman. This is actually the second short from her I have seen, as she also directed a segment in last year's "New York I Love You".
The film begins with a rather daring into. You see bits and pieces of a clearly elderly woman getting herself ready for the day--with makeup and a wig. When you see that the woman with age spots and fake hair is played by Lauren Bacall, you really have to respect her for allowing others to see her as being older and vulnerable--something I am sure many glamorous older stars would never allow. Thank heaven Ms. Bacall is NOT one of these vain older ladies. And, speaking of not vain, it's also nice to see Ben Gazzara--post-cancer and post-stroke with his speech clearly affected. Once again, I praise these actors, Ms. Portman and the film for being honest and not hiding old age! Too often, the covert message in most films is that there are either no old people or they have to be perfect or they have to be adorable--all of which are stupid stereotypes.
Kate (Olivia Thirlby) drops by her grandmother's house as Grandma is getting ready for a big date. However, Kate seems a bit concerned--after all, these elderly people plan on doing a lot of drinking and so she tag along. Surprisingly, she does NOT drive but lets Joe (Gazzara) do it--for a while! Once he demonstrates he is a menace to everyone else on the road and sidewalk (a prerequisite for getting a drivers license here in Florida), she drives them home instead.
Later, when they return home. Bacall does something even more daring--and removes her makeup and you see her in all her glory--not just bits and pieces like the beginning.
Overall, while the film hasn't got much in the way of plot, I was just shocked that Portman can both direct and write. The combination of great daring, fantastic and evocative music and interesting characters make for a lovely film--one I think is better than the recent crop of Academy Award-nominated live action shorts. Too bad this one was overlooked. Plus, imagine a film where elderly people have normal desires, drink too much and are simply old...and look it! And, in the process, they aren't made fun of, made to be cute or are caricatures!
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