Day 3 of the 2022 South by Southwest (SXSW) film festival was one for the books. I got to witness a troubling relationship between a father and son build into a heartwarming one. Then, I watched a film centered around hatred for multiculturalism in a way I’ve never seen before. But if there’s one film that took me by storm, it’s the one about a porn film crew and their fight for survival at a rural Texas farmhouse. Yes! You read that correctly. Here are my SXSW Day 3 reviews:
1) I Love My Dad | Director: James Morosini
Synopsis: Inspired by Writer/Director/Star James Morosini’s true life experience, I Love My Dad follows Chuck (Patton Oswalt), an estranged father who desperately wants to reconnect with his depressive son, Franklin (Morosini). Blocked on social media and concerned for his son’s life, Chuck impersonates a waitress (Claudia Sulewski) online and starts checking in with Franklin. But things begin to spiral when Franklin falls for this imaginary girl and wants nothing more than to meet her in person, as Chuck has inadvertently catfished his own son. Principal Cast: Patton Oswalt, James Morosini, Claudia Sulewski, Rachel Dratch, Ricky Velez, Lil Rel Howery, Amy Landecker
Review: Everything in me told myself that I shouldn’t like anything about I Love My Dad after 30 minutes of awkwardness, crossed boundaries, and unrealistic expectations. But once writer/director James Morosini’s based on [his own] true story narrative gets going, it sunk its grip on my heart. It helps that Patton Oswalt and James Morosini share a great on-screen chemistry. But this humorous and creative recount of catfishing is worth it when it peels back its layers to reveal an endearing story about love and redemption. Add it to your watchlist!
2) Soft & Quiet | Director: Beth de Araújo
Synopsis: Playing out in real time, SOFT & QUIET is a runaway train that follows a single afternoon in the life of Emily, an elementary school teacher. Emily organizes the inaugural club mixer of like-minded women, and she indoctrinates them into her sisterhood. When they all decide to move the meeting to Emily’s house, they stop at the local store to pick up refreshments, where an altercation breaks out between two sisters and the club that spirals into a volatile chain of events. Principal Cast: Stefanie Estes, Olivia Luccardi, Eleanore Pienta, Dana Millican, Melissa Paulo, Jon Beavers, Cissy Ly
Review: The biggest wonder I have after watching Soft & Quiet is who this film was made for. For me, it’s a display of white feminism, microaggressions, and racism–things I unfortunately already know. And it doesn’t really highlight anything new about those topics other than to push the boundaries of extremity. “Was it necessary” isn’t even a question that punctures my brain as much as “What is this trying to say?” Because ultimately, it feels like Director Araújo’s offensive feature is a wasted opportunity to get creative with a familiar story. So unfortunately, I was only left with a sour taste in my mouth.
3) X | Director: Ti West
Synopsis: In 1979, a group of young filmmakers set out to make an adult film in rural Texas. But when their reclusive, elderly hosts catch them in the act, the cast find themselves fighting for their lives. Principal Cast: Mia Goth, Jenna Ortega, Martin Henderson, Brittany Snow, Owen Campbell, Stephen Ure, Scott Mescudi
Review: Nothing quite excites me more when a film captures the essence of a certain decade and uses it to its film setting advantage. Mix that in with a creative story about adult filmmaking and sex positivity, and you have yourself a damn good time at the movies. Just about everything works in Ti West’s X. It’s raunchy, sexy, and hilarious at all the right times and scary and gory at unsuspecting ones. Simply put, this horror film fangirl is satisfied for all sorts of reasons. And if you’re reading this, I need you to add this to your must-watch list as soon as possible.