Our 2020 Sundance Film Festival day 3 included some of our favorite films yet, including “Uncle Frank” starring Paul Bettany, as Frank, and “Worth” starring Michael Keaton, in a legal drama about the 9/11 victims.
As we celebrated our Saturday in snowcapped Park City, Utah and another day at Sundance, our adventures was filled with just as many surprises as before.
Here’s what we managed to catch on day 3 of the festival:
Day 3 began with a screening in the historic Egyptian theater, where we saw a most unconventional documentary. A mysterious benefactor hires an 83-year-old man to go undercover in a nursing home, to see if the staff are treating their mother well.
The central figure settles into life in the home, making friends and even attracting romantic interest. But soon his relationship with his boss sours, as he discovers many of the residents are extraordinarily lonely, and he begins to question the purpose of his mission when the benefactor doesn’t bother to show up and see the conditions for themselves.
Director Maite Alberdi did a fantastic job turning the premise into a film that anybody could enjoy. It’s a doccumentary, but done in such an intimate style that you can often lose yourself into the idea that it’s a typical narrative film. The theater audience was laughing nearly every moment, and if they weren’t laughing, it was because they were crying.
Entered in the World Cinema Documentary Competition, the movie is from Chile and in Spanish with English subtitles. If you can get over that small barrier, this is a special treat with universal themes of reminding us all to respect our elders.
“Uncle Frank” is an original take on the uncomfortable experience of coming out to your family, with an all star cast and crew in tow. Score done by Nathan Barr, whose work has been featured in “True Blood,” “The House with a Clock in its Walls” and more, and directed by writer and director Alan Ball, best known for his award winning screenplay “American Beauty.”
Paul Bettany plays the titular role, the son of a traditional South Carolina family who has moved to New York in the 1970’s to become a literature professor. When his niece Beth, played by the promising Sophia Lillis (of “IT” fame) discovers he’s gay, and the family patriarch Daddy Mack dies, the two embark on a road trip that forces both to confront Frank’s painful past.
Echoing the drama and road trip aesthetic to the 2018 best picture winner “Green Book,” “Uncle Frank” is, if you’ll pardon the pun, a frank look at the difficulties of owning up to what kind of person you are in a world that doesn’t accept you. This one is sure to be a contender come next year’s award season.
The events of September 11, 2001, still linger in the minds of everyone who was alive at the time it occurred. But not so many of us might give passing thoughts to those who lost someone in the attacks. The subject of victim compensation then brings up the uncomfortable question, of how much a human life is worth in a monetary figure?
That’s the subject of “Worth,” the legal drama starring Michael Keaton and Stanley Tucci. The two play men at odds with one another; Keaton’s lawyer Kenneth Feinberg is attempting to determine an appropriate amount to compensate the victims, and Tucci’s Charles Wolf is a bitter widower of one of the victims.
Given the subject matter, it’s evident the film is an uncomfortable watch. There’s a great many number of scenes with characters representing the victims telling their stories of who they’ve lost, and as an audience member you are put into Feinberg’s shoes as his situation gets more and more difficult. Dominated by the outstanding performances of all involved, particularly Keaton, Tucci, and Laura Benanti as another widowed victim, “Worth” is a film that cuts deep.
This Sundance has proven more than anything to be quite diverse, from genres offered to languages spoken. We have one more day of coverage left, so stay tuned!