Review: BFI London Film Festival 2013

on Tuesday, October 29, 2013
BFI London Film Festival (9-20 Oct '13) // Words: Team FG

The 57th BFI London Film Festival may have started off in inauspicious circumstances - the online system for priority booking crashed - but concluded successfully with the Oscar contending 'Saving Mr Banks'. Along the way, we caught dozens of the festival's wide array of features, and here are some of our favourite films - many of which are soon to arrive at a cinema near you, if not already.

'Saving Mr Banks' wasn't the only awards contender on offer, with the likes of Alfonso Cuaron's 'Gravity' and Alexander Payne's 'Nebraska' making well received appearances. We also enjoyed films of the calibre of 'Enough Said' and Terry Gilliam's return 'The Zero Theorem' but our favourite five LFF films lie below.

'12 Years A Slave'


An outstanding piece of cinema that resonated with all three of our writers (our top fives can be found at the bottom of the page) at its press screening at the LFF - which happened to be the most popular screening of its kind in LFF history. The hype behind Steve McQueen's slavery period drama proved fully justified and we can see it nabbing a host of Oscars, such as Best Actor for Chiwetal Ejiofor and Best Score for Hans Zimmer. .

'Blue Is The Warmest Colour'


Somehow managing to become more controversial for its behind-the-scenes antics than its elongated and graphic lesbian sex scenes, 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' is nonetheless one of the most intense and believable relationship dramas that we've had the pleasure of seeing. Despite the film's over-indulgent three hour run time, we are beautifully drawn into the central relationship between Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos.

'Don Jon'


Joseph Gordon-Levitt writes and directs his debut feature film, in which he also stars alongside Scarlett Johansson. Gordon-Levitt is a modern day Don Juan, a libertine who is forced to reconsider his dedication to pornography following the appearance of Johansson in his life. It may be crass at times but there is enough emotional warmth to Don Jon to make it a hearty rom-com.

'Like Father, Like Son'

(Full review)

Currently in UK cinemas and well worth catching before its seemingly inevitable English language remake - Steven Spielberg has already picked up the rights, having seen the film at Cannes where it picked up the Jury Prize. Hirokazu Kore-eda's beguiling family drama beautifully explores the exchange of two sons who were mistakenly giving to the wrong parents six years before the film begins.

'Starred Up'

(Full review)

Screenwriter Jonathan Asser deservedly won the Best British Newcomer at the LFF for this hard-hitting drama, starring Jack O'Connell as a troubled young offender who is transferred/"starred up" to an adult prison two years early. Asser's script and powerful performances mean that 'Starred Up' delivers an unpredictable authenticity that makes for utterly gripping viewing.

Lauren Johnson-Ginn's Top Five LFF Films:
1. '12 Years A Slave'
2. 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour'
3. 'Don Jon'
4. 'Only Lovers Left Alive'
5. 'Kill Your Darlings'

Raman K's Top Five:
1. 'Starred Up'
2. '12 Years A Slave'
3. 'Chinese Puzzle'
4. 'Don Jon'
5. 'Kill Your Darlings'

Saam Das' Top Five:
1. '12 Years A Slave'
2. 'Like Father, Like Son'
3. 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour'
4. 'The Past'
5. 'Only Lovers Left Alive'

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