Skip to content

We’re done with another day of screenings. And as always, we’ve found some true gems. From a compelling drama about grief to a mature romance narrative and an emotional documentary, here are some of our findings from our seventh day at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Love After Love
Director: Russ Harbaugh
Category: US Narrative Competition

Love After Love feels completely natural. It’s got that improv kind of vibe (though who’s to say how much, if any, was even improvised?), making the viewer feel that what they’re seeing is very much real. This is largely thanks to the three great performances at the center of everything: Andie MacDowell plays Suzanne, grieving after the death of her husband, and Chris O’Dowd and James Adomian play her sons, Nicholas and Chris.

It’s an intimate portrait of how we grieve and cope after an enormous loss. Love After Love takes a unique approach, dropping us in on the family intermittently in the years after the death of its patriarch. Skillfully edited by director Harbaugh, along with John Magary (director of 2015’s The Mend), the viewer gets swept up in the passage of time. Each family member deals with the death differently, with some coping better than others. And even as the years go by, their father’s ghost continues to remain a strong presence. Moments of sadness are balanced with brief flashes of levity – it’s a heavy film, but there are more than a few genuine laughs.

But those performances! Andie MacDowell has a complicated role to play here, and she nails it, perfectly capturing the contradictory state of “happy yet sad” in the years following the death of her husband. O’Dowd is equally good, playing a character who’s, for the most part, an unlikable jerk. James Adomian, who most viewers are probably more familiar with as a comedian, shows that he’s got some respectable dramatic chops.

Ice Mother
Director: Bohdan Sláma
Category: International Narrative Competition

Movies about the immature adult children of kind older parents are almost a genre unto themselves. Probably for good reason: there’s lots of dramatic gold to be mined from such a situation. Ice Mother tells the story of Hana, a mother who always looks forward to her weekly dinners with her sons and their families. These dinners, though, frequently devolve into arguments and quips. The sons—one very white collar and the other more working class—just can’t behave. The men’s wives aren’t much better.

Even Hana’s grandson Ivanek, who she often babysits, can be a bit of a jerk, telling her that he doesn’t want to be around her because she smells. The first kind person that we see is Brona, an ice swimmer who Hana helps rescue while out for a walk by the water. The goofy Brona (complete with a hen for a pet) is quickly smitten with Hana, inviting her to come to future ice swimming events. Soon, a romance is kindled – one that Hana’s sons don’t exactly approve of.

The relationship between Hana and Brona is charming. It’s a relief to see somebody who actually cares for her, and the actors have a lot of chemistry. As a tale of old folks falling in love (and Hana finding a new hobby in the form of ice swimming), Ice Mother really succeeds. The family drama isn’t quite as strong. Hana’s sons (along with their wives) are so unlikable that it almost strains believability. Their behavior could’ve been turned down a notch or two (or three) without any dramatic weight lost.

Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story
Director: Alexandra Dean
Category: Documentary, Special Screening

Hedy Lamarr is the perfect subject for a feature-length documentary. She was a huge Hollywood star, and at the height of her popularity in the 1940s, many considered her the most beautiful woman in the world. In her later years she became poor and reclusive, afraid of being seen in public after a series of bad plastic surgery jobs. It’s a classic Hollywood tragedy… oh, and there’s also this whole forgotten thing about her inventing an important form of radio communication technology during World War II.

Bombshell, stylistically, is exactly what you’d expect from this kind of documentary. It tells the story of Hedy Lamarr’s life from beginning to end, complete with photo stills, movie clips, and talking heads. Most effective, though are the sections that utilize Lamarr’s own voice, from a long assumed lost magazine interview she did in the 1990s. Hearing her speak about her accomplishments, including her inventions, is a real treat. It’s a tough documentary to review because it’s exactly what you’d expect. You go in wanting to learn more about Hedy Lamarr’s amazing life, and you leave having learned so much.

Lamarr’s story is heartbreaking. What’s especially tough to see are photos and video clips from her final years, living in poverty and without any credit for co-inventing a technology that remains important even today. Don’t be embarrassed to shed a few tears.

Make yourself heard!