This year at TIFF, we watched 8 movies including a good mix of North American vs foreign films, little movies vs bigger named celebrity features. We started off with 3 movies on the first weekend:
The movie is a filming of the Toronto revival of Plummer's Tony award winning play of the same name, intermixed with additional scenes that flush out Barrymore's character and state of mind at that time in his life.
Although too young to have ever met John Barrymore, Plummer told a touching story about one of his idols, John's daughter Diana. Like most of the rest of the Barrymore clan who were blessed with talent but cursed with addictions, Diana was also a down and out alcoholic towards the end of her career. Assured that she was on the wagon, Plummer tried to get her an audition in a play he was in. The director initially said "Not another Barrymore!" but relented after Plummer begged. He later found out that she had showed up to the interview drunk and died shortly afterwards.
The audience was full of Canadian "celebrities" including Brian and Mila Mulrony, Gordon Pinsent and Garth Drabinsky who was the executive producer of the production. I remember wondering how Garth Drabinsky could still be so public and prolific when he had been convicted of fraud.. shouldn't he be in jail? We heard a couple days later that he lost his appeal and is now back in jail.
The plot is intricate and exciting with plot twists that require careful attention in the beginning to appreciate the payoff. There movie has its share of blood and violence but the situations are set up in such an innovative and usually hilarious manner that they make you wince and then laugh out loud. Memorable scenes involving a box of milk, a dog and a forklift, and an outhouse will stick in your mind for a long time.
So the festival was off to a good start for us with three diverse and entertaining movies and great hopes for more to come.