2022’s Bentonville Film Festival has finally come to a close, and once again presents an eclectic variety of titles. This year seemed to focus on small, intimate stories, with a specific eye on female voices. After the jump, don’t miss our full coverage for the site, as well as reviews for select titles from previous festivals!
God’s Country is a searing drama/thriller that, on paper, should check just about every box. An excellent lead performance from Thandiwe Newton deep in stages of grief, at-work racial politics coming into play, and intimidating hunters invading one’s massive stretch of land… it all seems the ideal setup. Julian Higgins, who directs and co-writes, appears to bite off more than he can chew, causing the film to become muddled and trying to do too many things at once. A simple premise needed a pared-down narrative, but sadly the slowness of God’s Country gives way to a meandering and scattered whole. I wish it did not feel quite so empty. That said, I did enjoy the quick climax, one that is finally able to tap into the cat-and-mouse nature only teased for much of the runtime.
HOW TO PLEASE A WOMAN
Full review at the link.
I’LL SHOW YOU MINE
(Previously reviewed for 2022’s SIFF) I love movies where the leads simply talk together from beginning to end, but I’ll Show You Mine comes up lacking on almost every level. What does work here is the chemistry between the struggling-to-stay-relevant author, Priya (Poorna Jagannathan), and model-turned-porn cartoonist Nic (Casey Thomas Brown). I also dug the strange comic strip interludes between chapters, and some of the trauma being portrayed through animation. What didn’t work for me was everything else. Two cousins getting deep into their sexual insecurities, exploitation, and scarring traumas is literally just that. The entire film consists of talking in circles with little progression that never manages to go anywhere enticing.
LAND OF GOLD
Previously reviewed for 2022’s Tribeca Film Festival.
A LOVE SONG
(Previously reviewed for 2022’s SIFF) This new romance drama depicting a beautiful night spent between two people out on a distant camping destination is a bit too small-stakes and slow for my taste. The intimacy of the story and characters does manage to shine through, particularly character actress Dale Dickey in a layered lead performance. With absolutely stunning landscape visuals, A Love Song is sure to delight seekers of breathtaking mountains and rich cinematography. For those who love movies such as Nomadland or 2014’s Wild, A Love Song may just be the movie of one’s wildest dreams.
THE SEVEN FACES OF JANE
Full review at the link.
This year, our favorites were How to Please a Woman and The Seven Faces of Jane. Bentonville Film Festival, once again “championing women and diverse voices,” takes places in person from June 22nd – June 26th, and virtually from June 22nd to July 3rd. It is the 8th annual festival from actress Geena Davis, founded by Wal-Mart and presented by Coca Cola. For more information about the festival, please visit the official website.