‘The Whale’ to ‘Don’t Worry Darling’: 12 movies worth watching at 2022 Venice Film Festival

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The 2022 Venice International Film Festival witnessed the world premiere of several prominent movies from 31 August to 10 September 2022. Like every year, some of the world’s biggest stars and directors graced the festival with their presence.

The 79th edition of the festival this year has five sections for films — Venezia 79, Out of Competition, Orizzonti, Biennale College – Cinema and Venice Classics.

The Venezia 79 is the main competition section of the festival. A total of 23 films are in the running in this category for the top prize — the Golden Lion. While South Korean director Bong Joon-ho was the jury president of this section at the 78th Venice International Film Festival in 2021, American actor Julianne Moore is this year’s jury president.

Organised by La Biennale di Venezia, the Venice International Film Festival is the oldest in the world. It is annually held at Venice Lido — a barrier island on the Venetian lagoon.

Besides the films in the main competition section, which includes The Whale, Blonde and Bones & All, one film from the Out of Competition section, Don’t Worry Darling, has generated enough buzz to be certainly deserving of a watch. View the full lineup of movies at the 2022 Venice Film Festival here.

Here are some movies from the 2022 Venice International Film Festival that are worth watching

The Whale

The Whale
Image credit: © Courtesy of A24/IMDb

Genre: Drama

Directed by: Darren Aronofsky

Cast: Brendan Fraser, Sadie Sink, Hong Chau, Samantha Morton, Ty Simpkins and Sathya Sridharan

Release date: 9 December

Synopsis: The Whale is about a 600-pound (272 kg), middle-aged, gay English teacher named Charlie (Fraser), who lives in Ohio and is struggling with severe obesity. He tries to reconnect with his teenage daughter, Ellie (Sink), with whom he has not been in touch for eight years since the death of her mother (Morton).

Response at the festival: The Whale received a six-minute standing ovation after it was screened at the Venice International Film Festival 2022 on 4 September. Fraser was the particular recipient of the gesture, which made him visibly emotional. An overwhelming positive reception for the film and Fraser’s performance has led to speculations that he is certain to enter the Oscars race in 2023.

Blonde

2022 Venice International Film Festival Movies
Image credit: 2022 © Netflix/2022 © Netflix – © 2022 © Netflix/IMDb

Genre: Biography, drama, mystery, romance

Directed by: Andrew Dominik

Cast: Ana de Armas, Adrien Brody, Bobby Cannavale, Sara Paxton, Evan Williams, Xavier Samuel and Julianne Nicholson

Release date: 28 September

Synopsis: A re-imagination of the life of Marilyn Monroe (de Armas), Blonde presents the darker side of the life of the screen goddess. It begins with her life as Norma Jeane and follows her as she climbs the ladder of success in Hollywood, becoming its heartthrob in the 1950s and 1960s. During the course, it also explores Monroe’s relationships and the effect of stardom on her. The film is based on the book of the same name by Joyce Carol Oates.

Response at the festival: Among those who have appreciated the film after watching it is Casey Affleck, a frequent collaborator with Dominik. “I’ve seen Blonde and it’s incredible,” he told the press at the Venice International Film Festival on 7 September.

Affleck added, “I’ve seen a couple of versions of Blonde and it’s taken him [Dominik] a long time to get it out into the world. But that’s just how he is. He’s so slow with it. And it’s an amazing, beautiful film.”

The movie premiered on 9 September and received a 14-minute standing ovation at the end, with de Armas and Brody shedding tears. Its many glowing press reviews have lauded de Armas’ captivating performance.

The film will be released worldwide on Netflix.

Bones & All

Bones & All
Image credit: © BonesAndAllFilm on Twitter/IMDb

Genre: Drama, horror, romance

Directed by: Luca Guadagnino

Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Taylor Russell, Mark Rylance, Chloë Sevigny and Michael Stuhlbarg

Release date: 23 November

Synopsis: Lee (Chalamet) and Maren (Russell) are a road-tripping couple in the 1980s’ America in this film, which is based on the book of the same name by Camille DeAngelis. The film’s official synopsis says that the two characters explore “back roads, hidden passages and trap doors of Ronald Reagan’s America” but are unable to escape “their terrifying pasts,” which is essentially the fact that both are cannibals.

Response at the festival: Bones & All received a 10-minute standing ovation at its world premiere in Venice. This is the first film by Guadagnino, which is set in the US. Audiences were so thrilled that they reportedly chanted “Luca! Luca! Luca!” for the director, who enjoyed the reception for his third film in competition at the festival following A Bigger Splash and Suspiria, which were screened at the 72nd and 75th Venice Film Festival ceremonies in 2015 and 2018, respectively.

However, social media was busy praising the sartorial choices of Chalamet and Russell. Chalamet created one of the best fashion moments at the festival in 2021, and he did that once again this year. He arrived on the red carpet in a Haider Ackerman creation — a backless bright red halterneck pantsuit paired with kitten-heeled boots. Russell, on the other hand, wore a bright green Balenciaga gown with white opera gloves and pantaboots, creating her own unforgettable viral moment.

White Noise

2022 Venice International Film Festival Movies
Image credit: Wilson Webb/Netflix/Wilson Webb/Netflix – © 2022 Netflix, Inc./IMDb

Genre: Comedy, drama, horror, mystery

Directed by: Noah Baumbach

Cast: Adam Driver, Greta Gerwig, Don Cheadle, Raffey Cassidy and Jodie Turner-Smith

Release date: 30 December

Synopsis: Based on Don DeLillo’s novel of the same name, White Noise is about an American family dealing with issues at home. University professor Jack Gladney (Driver) and his wife, Babette (Gerwig), are then forced to deal with the fear of death and life as a family after an airborne toxic event that pollutes the air of their town.

Response at the festival: White Noise was the opening film of the 2022 Venice International Film Festival — the first Netflix film to do so. Although it didn’t receive an overwhelming response from audiences following its screening, most critics have appreciated the film. It marked the return of Baumbach to the mega-event following the screening of his film, Marriage Story, at the 76th Venice International Film Festival in 2019.

White Noise is set for worldwide release on Netflix after a limited theatrical screening.

Bardo

2022 Venice International Film Festival Movies
Image credit: IMDb

Genre: Comedy, drama

Directed by: Alejandro González Iñárritu

Cast: Daniel Giménez Cacho, Griselda Siciliani, Andrés Almeida, Francisco Rubio, Mar Carrera and Roberto Cavazos

Release date: 18 November (Theatre); 16 December (Netflix)

Synopsis: The Spanish-language film is named after the Buddhist term for the state between death and rebirth. It follows Silverio Gama (Cacho), a reputed journalist and documentary filmmaker, who prepares for a visit to Mexico after living in Los Angeles for 20 years. The film explores the existential crisis and cultural identity through Gama’s eyes and those of his family.

Response at the festival: Iñárritu’s films have often been the toast of Venice. For instance, Birdman opened the  71st Venice International Film Festival in 2014. The film went on to win the Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director along with two others the following year. In 2003, Sean Penn won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the 60th Venice International Film Festival for Iñárritu’s 21 Grams.

Bardo, whose full title is Bardo (or False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths), premiered at the 2022 edition of the film festival on 1 September. The nearly three-hour-long film received a lukewarm response from audiences, but critics did not give it their thumbs up. Many of them expressed reservations about its length. Though Iñárritu said at a press conference that the film is not autobiographical, he also said that he and his family left Mexico on 1 September 2001 for Los Angeles, where they have been residing for 21 years.

Don’t Worry Darling

Don't Worry Darling
Image credit: IMDb

Genre: Mystery, thriller

Directed by: Olivia Wilde

Cast: Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Olivia Wilde, Gemma Chan, KiKi Layne, Sydney Chandler and Chris Pine

Release date: 23 September

Synopsis: Set in the 1950s, the film follows married couple Alice (Pugh) and Jack (Styles). Their idyllic world is shattered when Alice discovers a secret about the company Jack works for and begins investigating it.

Response at the festival: Despite having one of the best ensemble casts for any film at the festival, it was the controversies around Don’t Worry Darling that hogged headlines. The film’s press conference was held on 5 September, but Pugh was not present because she was in Budapest. She arrived later in Italy in time for the red carpet and film premiere on 6 September. Additionally, Wilde and Pugh did not pose for the camera together; cast members such as Pine were always strategically present between the two. Speculations of a rift between Pugh and Wilde, which had already been making rounds before the premiere, gained strength following these observations.

On the other hand, Styles, who is rumoured to be dating Wilde, appeared to spit on Pine while the latter was seated. Though this probably didn’t actually happen —  Pine’s representatives have denied the incident and Styles even poked fun at it during his recent gig in New York — it gave birth to a series of memes and GIFs on social media with the hashtag #spitgate. Pine also became the face of memes for his spaced out reaction to Styles’ rambling comments at the press conference, in which the British singer-songwriter said, “The thing I like about the movie is that it feels like a movie.”

As for the film, it was one of the few that was screened out of competition. It got a five-minute standing ovation, but was poorly received by critics for its confusing approach to the story.

Argentina, 1985

Argentina,1985
Image credit: Argentina 1985 – © Amazon Studios – La Unión de los Ríos – Kenya Films – Infinity Hill/IMDb

Genre: Drama

Directed by: Santiago Mitre

Cast: Ricardo Darín, Juan Pedro Lanzani, Alejandra Flechner and Norman Briski

Release date: 30 September

Synopsis: Argentina, 1985 is a courtroom drama based on real events that took place in the titular year the film is set in. Public prosecutors Julio Strassera (Darín) and Luis Moreno Ocampo (Lanzani) form a young legal team to put Argentina’s military on trial for the “dirty war” in which the junta killed many dissidents. Because of this, the two invite the wrath of the military, who were still influential despite having gone out of power two years ago.

Response at the festival: The film, which is in Spanish, premiered on 3 September and has received wide praise from critics. Following its theatrical release, the film will air on Amazon Prime on 21 October.

The Banshees of Inisherin

The Banshees of Inisherin
Image credit: IMDb

Genre: Comedy, drama

Directed by: Martin McDonagh

Cast: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Barry Keoghan and Kerry Condon

Release date: 21 October

Synopsis: The film is set in 1923 and is about friendship. It follows Pádraic (Farrell) and Colm (Gleeson) on the fictional island of Inisherin. When Colm ends their friendship, Pádraic takes the help of his sister Siobhán (Condon) and island native Dominic (Barry Keoghan) to repair his relationship with his friend. However, everything becomes very serious when Colm remains steadfast in his resolve.

Response at the festival: McDonagh has previously been at the Lido for the premiere of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri at the 74th Venice International Film Festival in 2017. That film won multiple honours following its release, including two Oscars. His latest, which premiered on 5 September, received a 15-minute standing ovation, testifying to the outstanding work done by the cast and crew of the film. Critics hailed it as a masterpiece, praising the cast’s performance, direction and shooting location (the Irish island of Inis Mór), among other aspects of the film.

The Banshees of Inisherin brings together the trio of McDonagh, Farrell and Gleeson 14 years after they worked together in In Bruges (2008). This is the first film by McDonagh set in his native Ireland.

The Eternal Daughter

2022 Venice International Film Festival Movies
Image credit: IMDb

Genre: Drama, mystery

Directed by: Joanna Hogg

Cast: Tilda Swinton and Joseph Mydell

Release date: To be announced

Synopsis: An artist and her elderly mother (both Swinton) return to their former family home converted into a hotel, where they encounter “long-buried secrets.”

Response at the festival: Swinton is no stranger to playing multiple characters in a single film. She played three in Suspiria (2018). Her characters in The Eternal Daughter are named Rosalind and Julie, which have been taken from the names of the characters she and her real-life daughter, Honor, played in Hogg’s two The Souvenir films in 2019 and 2021.

At the press conference of the movie at the 2022 Venice International Film Festival, where the film received an overwhelmingly positive response from critics and other attendees, Swinton appeared on the red carpet wearing a blue Loewe button-up with her hair dyed bright yellow. “It’s my honour to wear half of the Ukrainian flag,” she said.

The mystery thriller was shot in secret during the lockdown in Wales.

TÁR

2022 Venice International Film Festival Movies
Image credit: IMDb

Genre: Drama, music

Directed by: Todd Field

Cast: Cate Blanchett, Noémie Merlant, Nina Hoss, Sophie Kauer and Mark Strong

Release date: 7 October

Synopsis: Lydia Tár (Blanchett) is an acclaimed composer and conductor. The first woman to become lead conductor of a major German orchestra, Tár has everything that life can offer. She records a symphony that’ll further her reputation, but there is a dark secret that her assistant, Francesca (Merlant), appears to know.

Response at the festival: TÁR is Field’s third feature-length film after In the Bedroom (2001) and Little Children (2006) — both of which received Oscar nods in multiple categories, including Best Screenplay for Field.

TÁR received a six-minute standing ovation following its premiere at the festival on 1 September. However, the sound of the claps grew louder when Blanchett appeared on the stage, indicating everyone in attendance loved her performance.

Blanchett’s performance has been universally praised by critics. One of the 21 Oscar-winning actors to have appeared in Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films, there are speculations that she might as well win her third in 2023 for TÁR.

Love Life

2022 Venice International Film Festival Movies
Image credit: IMDb

Genre: Drama

Directed by: Kōji Fukada

Cast: Fumino Kimura, Kento Nagayama, Atom Sunada and Tetta Shimada

Release date: 9 September (Japan)

Synopsis: Taeko (Kimura) lives with her husband, Jiro (Nagayama), and her young son, Keita (Shimada), from a previous marriage. Their peaceful life is disturbed by the arrival of the boy’s father, Park (Sunada), who is deaf and homeless. Taeko chooses to help him, leading to complexities in her married life.

Response at the festival: Love Life is inspired by the song of the same name by Japanese jazz and pop vocalist Akiko Yano. It received a standing ovation at the festival.

Master Gardener

2022 Venice International Film Festival Movies
Image credit: © Bonnie Marquette/IMDb

Genre: Thriller

Directed by: Paul Schrader

Cast: Joel Edgerton, Sigourney Weaver and Quintessa Swindell

Release date: Unknown

Synopsis: Narvel Roth (Edgerton) is a horticulturist who maintains the grounds of a wealthy dowager, Norma Haverhill (Weaver). Haverhill’s mixed-race niece, Maya (Sydney Sweeney), comes to stay with her aunt and is assigned to Roth as an apprentice. When Maya is threatened by a gang in the neighbourhood, Roth comes to her aid, but doing so risks revealing his own dark past.

Response at the festival: The movie made its world premiere at the 2022 Venice International Film Festival in the Out of Competition section on 3 September. Critics praised the film and noted that it completed a trilogy of his “God’s lonely man” films, which includes First Reformed (2017) and The Card Counter (2021).

(Hero image and featured image credit: A24/The Whale & 2022 © Netflix/2022 © Netflix – © 2022 © Netflix/IMDb)

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