Sunday, March 17, 2019

SXSW with Abe: Aurora

I’m excited to be attending the film festival at South by Southwest for the second time, and I’ll be posting reviews throughout the week as I see as many movies as possible!

Directed by Miia Tervo

Many people whose lives are out of control have an ability to recognize it, desiring to do something to get back on track or at least badgered by someone who cares about them to set themselves straight. Going unchecked for too long can lead to a loss of boundaries and ambition, resulting in a stagnant existence that can only be revitalized by a transformative and often traumatic event. In some cases, all it takes is a project to devote energy to, which in turn leads to effort being put in and a reduction of the more problematic and previously dominant activities.

Aurora (Mimosa Willamo) parties hard, a trait she inherited from her father, who returns to rehab for his latest stint as their home is repossessed. Staying with friends and not keeping out of trouble, Aurora meets Darian (Amir Escandari), an asylum seeker with a young daughter who bluntly tells her that his two choices are to get married or kill himself. As Darian stays with a kindhearted woman and her less trusting human, he becomes closer with Aurora, who, despite dismissing the possibility of marrying him herself, seeks to set him up with the right person for the high price of 3,000 euros that he has offered her in exchange for her matchmaking services.

Aurora is an immediately magnetic protagonist, first seen drinking milk straight from the carton off a shelf in a supermarket and expressing an aversion to doing whatever anyone expects her to do. She is hired by an elderly woman whose children insist on caring for her explicitly because of her unfiltered attitude, and while some of her behavior is irresponsible, she does succeed at connecting with her charge and helping her to feel more alive. She also impacts Darian, who is taken by the way she conducts herself and unable to stop thinking about her.

Willamo delivers a terrific lead performance that shows a complete investment in Aurora as a character. She’s a strong and more memorable personality than anyone else in the film, including Darian, which makes any scene in which she appears more engaging than any in which she doesn’t. This is a movie that feels off-kilter enough that it isn’t entirely normative or standard, but in the end it’s a story that does feel familiar, entertaining and intriguing even if it’s not resounding or overly fulfilling.


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