LFF 2013 Reviews: All Cheerleaders Die + The Double + How We Used To Live

on Monday, October 14, 2013
Words: Maxamillian John and Saam Das

The BFI London Festival 2013 continues into its final week, and we have mini-reviews of subversive horror 'All Cheerleaders Die', Richard Ayoade's new film 'The Double', and the Saint Etienne-soundtracked 'How We Used To Live'. All spoiler-free, of course, and showing this evening should you wish to pop down.

'All Cheerleaders Die'

(LFF Screenings: Sat 12, 21.00 + Mon 14, 20.45)

'All Cheerleaders Die' is Lucky McKee and Chris Siverton's high-school thriller remake of their own 2001 schlock horror. Starring Caitlin Stasey as a student who joins the cheerleading squad to exact vengeance on her peers, it jams a trendy, music-video sensibility with an intelligent, ironising script. Stock characters such as The Jock and The Goth are subverted, and characters reveal unexpected layers which change their moral standpoint in what is initially presented as a story about justice.

As relationships begin to complicate, the narrative the film loses a little focus, but some very funny jokes sustain each scene. There are actual surprises in parts, and in general the arc is unpredictable. The introduction of supernatural elements may jar some viewers, but everything is handled with an appropriate sense of the absurd in this twisty, fun thriller. (MJ)


'The Double'

(LFF Screenings: Sat 12, 20.30 + Sun 13, 12.45 + Mon 14, 18.15)

Richard Ayoade returns to the director's seat for his follow up to 2010 feature 'Submarine', bringing a whole host of actors from his debut back to the fold for his adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novella. 'The Double' also features new collaborations, with Jesse Eisenberg in the lead role as introverted worker as well as suave doppelganger, joined by Mia Wasikowska as the object of their affections.

Ayoade brings his characteristic dry wit along for the ride, aided by co-writer Avi Korine, adding a sense of originality to this updated tale. Eisenberg particularly impresses in his utterly believably meek moments, continually berated by his boss (played by Wallace Shawn) while pining after uninterested colleague (Wasikowska). The existential relationship between Eisenberg's central duo unfortunately leads down a rather predictable road, leading to a slightly unsatisfying and familiar resolution - albeit with plenty of laughs along the way. (SD)


'How We Used To Live'

(LFF Screenings: Sat 12, 18.30 + Mon 14, 18.30)

Part of the long-standing partnership between filmmaker Paul Kelly and musical outfit Saint Etienne, 'How We Used To Live' combines post-WWII archive footage of Britain, soundtracked by a seminal British indie-pop band. Considered a prequel to previous outing 'Finisterre', 'How We Used To Live' takes on the period between the fifties and the eighties, utilising vibrant colour footage plucked from the BFI National Archive.

As a life-long (near enough) Londoner, it is pleasing to see my fair city's past nuances through the clips, which often take amusing turns, poetically narrated by Ian McShane. However, I found myself drifting off on several occasions - the manner in which the footage and soundtrack are brought together disappoints. Here, the sum of its parts are not greater than the constituent elements, especially scuppered by a seeming lack of narrative. Perhaps 'How We Used To Live' would have been better suited to a short. (SD)


Find more info and purchase remaining tickets at bfi.org.uk/lff. Any sold-out showings will have tickets available in the returns queue just prior to the screening times.

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