It's impossible not to see Son of Saul as a corrective to past stories that have imposed a neat order (or worse) on such incomprehensible events. Nemes does that too, of course, simply by making this film – but he does so in a way that makes us think of these events afresh.
This new version features the voice of Pharrell Williams as the narrator, dipping in and out of Dr. Seuss’s warming rhymes. That binds to the film to its authentic source, but the gaps between the spoken verse still remind us that this is a slender story s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d into a feature.
A lively, uncomplicated jukebox movie. Bohemian Rhapsody is a feature-length earworm that leaves “Don’t Stop Me Now,” “We Are the Champions,” “Another One Bites the Dust” and the rest of them wriggling in your cochlea and helping to drown out any inner whisper suggesting that you’ve just had the wool pulled over your eyes by these masters of rock theatrics.
Kubrick himself rarely spoke about his work – which means this is a valuable insight into Kubrick's character and filmmaking process, as well as a frank look at what it means to give up your life to work at the side of a difficult creative genius.
As Farhadi casts his roving, distracted eye over this unhappy community, sharing his story in a choppy, documentary style, it ends up feeling like a curiously detached exercise, more academic than wholly satisfying.
Happy End is more meandering and less contained, though, and it doesn’t have a central, gripping mystery like The White Ribbon to make you lean in more than you recoil. Rather, it’s a more diffuse film, and a more despairing one, although there are flashes of gallows humor to lighten the pileup of downers. As for the happy end? Happy hunting.
If anything, this doc reminds you that all relationships are strange, hopeful experiments in intimacy. And it’s that same hope the filmmakers lend to Dina and Scott’s story: you find yourself willing them along, wanting their marriage to work. You end up feeling honoured to have shared these special moments with them.
Even Dench, while adeptly highlighting the vulnerabilities of age and the loneliness of power, can’t distract from the soft treatment, which leaves little room for the harsh realities of prejudice which must have made this a more painful and ugly chapter for many involved than this film ever dares suggest.
It’s full of sharp dialogue and entertaining characters and fuelled by a wryly enlightened view of our world and how it can be at once cruel and caring. For a story built on such dark foundations, it’s weirdly reassuring. It’s also enormous fun.