Apostasy has just had it's European Premiere at the San Sebastian Film Festival (22 to 30 September 2017, see earlier posts in this thread) - and two more reviews have been published online - from The Playlist and Screen Daily (their second review of the film).
PLEASE NOTE: They are both fairly long, and are more 'indepth' than previous reviews, and go more into the actual story. Therefore, depending on how you wish to approach the film, they may contain what you consider to be spoilers that you would prefer not to know about before seeing the film for yourself. The extracts below are 'spoiler-free'.
REMINDER: As previously posted in this thread (see above), the UK PREMIERE of Apostasy takes place next week as part of the London International Film Festival (4 to 15 October 2017). There are just three public screenings, and the first one - on Sunday, October 8, 2017 - is already completely SOLD OUT.
Faith Divides Family In Deeply Moving ‘Apostasy’ [San Sebastian Review]
The Playlist, Friday, September 29, 2017
A piercingly humane and deeply moving glimpse into a community that for all its preaching and evangelizing remains largely a mystery to outsiders, Daniel Kokotajlo‘s debut film “Apostasy” insinuates us with sorrowful grace into the lives of a family of Jehovah’s Witnesses as they experience a series of challenges that amount to a familial Armageddon. A story told without condescension but astutely comprehending the cruelty of a faith that demands Abrahamic levels of sacrifice from its adherents, the picture is a remarkably assured and understated piece of filmmaking, showcasing not only a first-time director who has arrived fully-formed, but three exceptionally authentic performances from the women at its slow-breaking heart.
It seems as though “Apostasy” is mostly going to be concerned with Alex’s coming-of-age within the confines of her faith... Dramatic (though never melodramatic) events conspire to reshape the narrative of Kokotajlo’s film in unexpected directions, shifting the emphasis from Alex to Luisa and finally to Ivanna, with not a single false note struck between any of the actors. One particularly shocking development almost serves to subtly remind us that our own faith in cinematic narrative is as fundamental as that of a Jehovah’s Witness in the stories of the Bible, and just as much cold comfort when life fails to abide by those rules.
Kokotajlo keeps formal fireworks to a minimum, using the restrained palette, eloquently off-center framing and shallow-focus close-ups to root us in a tightly controlled naturalism. As a result a simple device, such as having Alex speak her prayers aloud while scenes play on around her, has a heightened effect: this is a world in which prayer is as tangible and real as conversation, just as articles of faith are taken as articles of fact.
The director is himself a former Jehovah’s Witness, and the film feels informed by both sadness and anger at an institution that can force such impossible choices on its believers.
READ FULL REVIEW: https://theplaylist.net/apostasy-review-jehovahs-witness-20170929/
'Apostasy': San Sebastian Review
Screen Daily, Friday, September 29, 2017
An audacious debut from first-time British director Daniel Kokotajlo is set in the Jehovahs Witness faith of his own childhood
Little understood and often mocked, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have the spotlight turned on them in intimate British drama Apostasy – and what's revealed is deeply troubled. Written and directed by Daniel Kokotajlo, himself a former Witness, this powerful feature debut occupies territory little charted in contemporary UK cinema, on the cusp between traditional social realism and a more European type of austere formal stylisation. Built around three intense, controlled female performances this story of family in conflict with faith delivers an emotional payoff all the more telling for being so rigorously calibrated.
The film, though shot in the kind of locales familiar from so much school-of-Loach drama, derives a fresh visual feel from Adam Scarth’s rigorously composed Academy ratio lensing, intensifying street scenes, claustrophobic interiors and intimate close-ups alike.
With a palette that emphasises browns and beiges to suggest a constrained, airless world, the film feels strikingly European in flavour: it’s close to two German dramas about young women and religious extremity, 2006’s Requiem (stylistically) and 2014’s Stations of the Cross (thematically). In domestic terms, its affinities are with that handful of directors that push UK realism towards its artistically challenging edges – e.g. Lawlor and Molloy (Helen) and Duane Hopkins (Better Things).
READ FULL REVIEW: https://www.screendaily.com/reviews/apostasy-san-sebastian-review/5122789.article