Empire At The Toronto Film Festival

A round-up of the opening days

Empire At The Toronto Film Festival

by Olly Richards |
Published on

The Toronto International Film Festival may pack more big names than a Russian telephone directory (the likes of Sean Penn, Cate Blanchett, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Michael Caine have all graced the red carpet so far), but the current belle of the ball is Canada’s own Ellen Page. The star of festival favourite Juno, the second feature from Jason Reitman (Thank you for Smoking), the 20-year-old Hard Candy star has earned rave reviews, playing a wise-cracking teen whose amorous tryst with Superbad’s Michael Cera sees her fall pregnant with a baby she plans to give up for adoption. Among a cast of quiet comedy geniuses like Jason Bateman, JK Simmons and Alison Janney and Jennifer Garner as a heart-melting prospective adopter, Page stands clearly out.

Page, who also stars in The Tracey Fragments and The Stone Angel, both of which are playing at the festival, says that she wanted to make Juno "to be a 16-year-old girl who wears a sweater-vest in a film”. And, she says, “To have sex with Michael Cera, which was a thrill”.

For those hoping for different kinds of thrills, the TIFF has so far served up a series of cinematic treats, including a string of long-awaited studio pics like Brad Pitt’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (low on plot, high on story and enchantin mood); Sean Penn’s haunting adaptation of John Krakauer book Into The Wild (Penn's best as director and a break out for young star Emile Hirsch); The Golden Age, the follow-up to 1999’s Cate Blanchett pic, Elizabeth (less commanding than the first); and the Coens’ searing translation of Cormac McCarthy’s brilliant novel No Country For Old Men (a confident return to form). The biggest praise, however, has been saved for David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises, which has earned nothing but enthusiastic reviews.

Among the smaller films showing at the festival, critics are united in their praise for Israeli effort The Band’s Visit from Eran Kolirin; Ryan Gosling’s humorous and deeply moving Lars and The Real Girl; Carlos Reygadas’ Silent Light; and Rendition, from Gavin Hood. George A Romero’s Diary of the Dead, meanwhile, has thrilled zombie fans on each of its showings…

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us