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Oct 02 2018

NYFF: 'Too Late To Die Young' and 'Ray & Liz'

byMurtada Elfadl

Childhood and adolescent memories are the basis for two films playing at this year's New York Film Festival.Though they come from different parts of the world,both stories use a distinctive visual style to tell an intimate story of growing up.Dominga Sotomayor basedToo Late To Die Youngon her experiences growing up in a rural bohemian community of artists in Chile in 1990.English photographer and visual artist Richard Billingham'sRay & Lizis a portrait of his childhood focusing on his very neglectful parents (yep the titular characters) in a council estate in London,around the same time (late 80s)...

Demian Hernández as Sofia in Too Late To Die Young

InToo Late to Die Young,Sotomayor plunges us into the commune life.She doesn't bother to explain the many different relationships between the characters but rather zooms in on her heroine 16 year-old Sofia who is dealing with two look alikes who are interested in her.One is sweet and age appropriate,the other is much older,smoldering and possibly bad for her.We get the sense that she's interested in finding out about sex more than she's interested in either.The film has a beautiful sun soaked photography but the story derives its strength from the myriad relationships between the many inhabitants of the commune and how they all influence Sofia becoming an adult.It's a roaming slice of life chronicle that isn't that interested in plot though it has some.It's more a memory of a feeling.

Ella Smith and Justin Salinger as the parents in Ray & Liz

Billingham'sRay & Lizstory is more precise and rooted in the stark bleak facts of his growing up with alcoholic uncaring parents.He presents those years in a few set pieces written and directed as if a crime were being committed.He sets the scene,presents the victim (either him or his brother) and the perpetrator (Ray,Liz and a lodger who lives with them),builds up the tension as we fear for the well being of the kids and shake with horror at what harm might happen to them.A respite comes from one night in which the younger boy spends at friend's flat within the same estate,where he discovers what nurture can do.Despite that comparison,Billingham dishes no judgement.Just the facts,presented and designed in austere brown earth tones that feel so real,we recoil yet cannot stop watching.

Ray & Lizplays the New York Film Festival on October 6th and 7th.Too Late To Die Younghas one more screening on October 14th.

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Reader Comments (3)

I'm sad that I missed RAY & LIZ at two festivals now.but you cant see everything

October 2,2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Ray & Liz sounds terrific.

October 2,2018 | Unregistered CommenterJJM

I've just bought tickets for Ray & Liz at LFF.Thanks for this review :)

October 3,2018 | Unregistered CommenterJB

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