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Berlin Film Festival 2024: All Of Deadline’s Movie Reviews

The Berlin Film Festival kicked off its 74th edition February 15 with the opening-night world premiere screening of Small Things Like These, the Irish drama starring Oscar-nominated Oppenheimer star Cillian Murphy. It started 10 days of debuts including for movies starring Rooney Mara, Isabelle Huppert, Gael García Bernal, Kristen Stewart and more.

This year’s Competition lineup features films from a swath of international filmmakers including Olivier Assayas, Mati Diop, Hong Sangsoo, Bruno Dumont and Abderrahmane Sissako.

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The Berlinale runs through February 25.

Keep checking back below as Deadline reviews the best and buzziest movies of the festival. Click on the titles to read the full reviews.

Another End

Another End movie
‘Another End’

Section: Competition
Director: Piero Messina
Cast: Gael García Bernal, Renate Reinsve, Bérénice Bejo, Olivia Williams, Pal Aron
Deadline’s takeaway: The script, while ambitious, is laden with philosophical musings that often feel detached from the emotional core of the story. Another End never fully commits to exploring the psychological and ethical implications of its premise.

Architecton

Architecton documentary
‘Architection’

Section: Competition
Director: Victor Kossakovsky
Deadline’s takeaway: Kossakovsky’s fascinating, magnetic film essay is in some ways a detective story about the world we live in, albeit one in which it is very easy to figure out whodunit (spoiler: we did it to ourselves). It also helps us to reassess what we’ve lost over the centuries. And, best of all, it isn’t depressing; [rather] … it is a warning sounded in the good faith of being heard in the nick of time.

Cuckoo

Hunter Schafer in 'Cuckoo'
Hunter Schafer in ‘Cuckoo’

Section: Berlinale Special Gala
Director: Tilman Singer
Cast: Hunter Schafer, Dan Stevens, Jessica Henwick, Marton Csókás, Mila Lieu
Deadline’s takeaway: None of this is quite coherent. It might just be nonsense. Well, it is. But there is a cheerfully willing audience for this kind of film, and it no doubt will sell a lot of popcorn.

The Devil’s Bath

Anja Plaschg in ‘The Devil’s Bath’
Anja Plaschg in ‘The Devil’s Bath’

Section: Competition
Directors-screenwriters: Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala
Cast: Anja Plaschg, David Scheid, Maria Hofstätter
Deadline’s takeaway: The powerful story of one woman’s madness but also the story of a way of life where the only escape hatch is death. As the story unfolds, its inherent violence is let loose with full, visceral force. Never less than unsettling and sometimes devastating, it is not easy viewing.

La Cocina

La Cocina
Rooney Mara and Raúl Briones in ‘La Cocina’

Section: Competition
Director: Alonso Ruizpalacios
Cast: Raul Briones, Rooney Mara, Anna Diaz, Motell Foster, Oded Fehr, Eduardo Olmos, Laura Gomez
Deadline’s takeaway: La Cocina is like The Bear on steroids, a black-and-white pressure cooker that builds to a fierce and explosive finale. It’s an unforgettable and gripping look inside not just a restaurant kitchen but the complicated lives of the invisible people who provide its heartbeat.

Dahomey

'Dahomey'
‘Dahomey’

Section: Competition
Director-screenwriter: Mati Diop
Deadline’s takeaway: The idea that our companion on this journey would be a talking statue first struck me as silly, ludicrously reminiscent of a voodoo doll come to life in a horror film — pretty much the last sort of association you would want in a film about West African culture. As the film unfolds, however, that voice of the past resonates with the seriousness of Diop’s project, pressing that past into the present like a mould being pressed into clay.

Dying

'Dying'
Lars Eidinger in ‘Dying’

Section: Competition
Director-screenwriter: Matthias Glasner
Cast: Lars Eidinger, Corinna Harfouch, Lilith Stangerberg, Hans-Uwe Bauer, Ronald Zehrfeld
Deadline’s takeaway: To stuff so much death and dying into one story, however voluminous, is a formidable challenge, but Glasner manages his vast stage by allowing  waves of feeling to roll forward and then retreat; its intensity is measured, interspersed with those respites of humor.

Hors du Temps (Suspended Time)

Vincent Macaigne in Hors du Temps movie
Vincent Macaigne in ‘Hors du Temps‘

Section: Competition
Director-screenwriter: Olivier Assayas
Cast: Vincent Macaigne, Micha Lescot, Nine D’Urso, Nora Hamzawi, Maud Wyler, Dominique Reymond, Magdalena Lafont
Deadline’s takeaway: Covid lockdown was perhaps the only break in normal life that the majority of us will ever experience. We have yet to reflect on it fully, and we still have little idea what the long-term effects will be. Assayas’ film, slight and playful though it is, is a stab in that dark.

Made in England: The Films of Powell and Pressburger

Emeric Pressburger and Michael Powell of ‘Made in England: The Films of Powell and Pressburger’
Emeric Pressburger and Michael Powell of ‘Made in England: The Films of Powell and Pressburger’

Section: Berlinale Special
Director: David Hinton
Subjects: Emeric Pressburger and Michael Powell aka The Archers
Deadline’s takeaway: Martin Scorsese is our tour guide here, and he never hands over the reins in ponders the ups and downs of The Archers’ 33-year filmography. His own place in the pantheon is booked and paid for, but this very generous and, at times, endearingly humble film reminds us that film history has not always been so kind to its visionaries.

My Favorite Cake

Lily Farhadpour and Esmail Mehrabi in ‘My Favorite Cake’
Lily Farhadpour and Esmail Mehrabi in ‘My Favorite Cake’

Section: Competition
Directors-screenwriters: Maryam Moghaddam, Behtash Sanaeeha
Cast: Lily Farhadpour, Esmail Mehrabi
Deadline’s takeaway: Gentle story is peppered with pointed jibes at the Iranian regime, making no bones about the fact that fun stopped with the Islamic Revolution. And neither the country nor the characters are allowed a happy ending, which speaks to the film’s integrity. To give in to that narrative temptation — to say that everything could work out nicely — would just be a lie.

Pepe

Pepe the hippo in ‘Pepe’
Pepe the hippo in ‘Pepe’

Section: Competition
Director: Nelson Carlos de Los Santos Arias
Cast: Jhon Narváez, Harmony Ahalwa, Fareed Matjila, Shifafure Faustinus, Jorge Puntillón García, Nicolás Marín Caly, Sor María Ríos, Steven Alexander
Deadline’s takeaway: Drug lord Pablo Escobar had a menagerie of exotic animals including what would become the first and only hippo killed in the Americas. Voiced by a chorus of actors, Pepe waxes poetically about his own death and the circumstances leading up to it, and his story becomes a cautionary tale to leave wild creatures where they belong.

The Roundup: Punishment

’The Roundup: Punishment’ movie
Don Lee in ’The Roundup: Punishment’

Section: Berlinale Special Gala
Director: Heo Myeong-haeng
Cast: Don Lee, Kim Moo-yul, Park Ji-hwan, Lee Dong-hwi
Deadline’s takeaway: Along with its moral certainty that punishment will be meted out to the right people, the latest Roundup installment is doubly reassuring in its comforting similarity to any number of other films. That said, it does that same thing at premium quality level; you get exactly the thrills, blood spills and entertainment you expect, stylishly packaged in a twisting, turning story that is relatively easy to follow, at least while it is happening.

Seven Veils

Amanda Seyfried in ‘Seven Veils’
Amanda Seyfried in ‘Seven Veils’

Section: Gala Special
Directors-screenwriter: Atom Egoyan
Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Rebecca Liddiard, Douglas Smith, Mark O’Brien
Deadline’s takeaway: Amanda Seyfried’s Jeanine never cracks under pressures. Atom Egoyan habitually gives explosive emotions a wide berth, refusing to allow characters or audience any kind of catharsis. It is an unforgiving kind of stringency; his frigidity leaves many viewers cold. But it works well here.

Sex

Sex review
Jan Gunnar Røise, left, and Thorbjørn Harr in ‘Sex’

Section: Panorama
Directors-screenwriter: Dag Johan Haugerud
Cast: an Gunnar Røise, Thorbjørn Harr, Siri Forberg, Birgitte Larsen
Deadline’s takeaway: A thought-provoking, dialogue-driven film full of wry observations about human behavior and life’s unanswered questions about who we really are, told in muted, almost deadpan style by the superbly chosen company of actors.

Small Things Like These

Cillian Murphy in ‘Small Things Like These’
Cillian Murphy in ‘Small Things Like These’

Section: Competition
Director: Tim Mielants
Cast: Cillian Murphy, Eileen Walsh, Michelle Fairley, Emily Watson, Clare Dunne
Deadline’s takeaway: What a vivid story this might have been if, rather than sticking to the letter of Claire Keegan’s unadorned prose, the filmmakers had embraced and taken a leap of faith into the story’s subtextual horror.

Spaceman

'Spaceman' review Adam Sandler
Adam Sandler in ‘Spaceman’

Section: Berlinale Special Gala
Director: Johan Renck
Cast: Adam Sandler, Carey Mulligan, Kunal Nayyar, Lena Olin, Isabella Rossellini
Deadline’s takeaway: For a time, there’s a low-key charm to all this, but it becomes a little wearing and finally, just starts to feel very long. It’s laudable that Adam Sandler went for it, since there’s not an ounce of broad humor anywhere to be found. But the perfect vehicle must be out there somewhere, waiting.

A Traveler’s Needs

A Traveler’s Needs movie
‘A Traveler’s Needs’

Section: Competition
Director-screenwriter: Hong Sang-soo
Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Lee Hyeyoung, Ha Seongguk, Kwan Haehyo
Deadline’s takeaway: Hong Sang-soo’s work, repetitive as it is, has a devoted constituency. The elusiveness of his open texts is attractive; his portraits of the Korean cultural elite intriguing; his artful angles on their modernist houses visually seductive. In this instance, however, these elements, taken together, feel frustratingly slight.

Treasure

Lena Dunham and Stephen Fry in Treasure movie
Stephen Fry and Lena Dunham in ‘Treasure’

Section: Berlinale Special Gala
Director: Julia von Heinz
Cast: Lena Dunham, Stephen Fry, Zbigniew Zamachowski, Iwona Bielska
Deadline’s takeaway: Treasure is otherwise a strangely flat experience, the Fry-Dunham dream team barely sparking a laugh between them and the original story’s central theme of trauma passed down within Jewish families never explored in any visceral way.

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