Seattle Cinema

SIFF 2019 Review Roundup May 16–21

Three movies with local connections hit the festival this week: Sword of Trust, Good Kisser, and Frances Ferguson.

By Stefan Milne May 16, 2019

Sword of Trust kicks off the Seattle International Film Festival on May 16. 

Image: Courtesy SIFF

Sword of Trust
Local filmmaker Lynn Shelton’s new feature opens SIFF this year, screening at tonight’s gala. Sword of Trust follows a couple (Jillian Bell and Michaela Watkins) as they try to sell a Civil War sword, inherited from a grandfather. When a pawnshop owner (Marc Maron) realizes there’s a substantial market for such “prover items”—that purportedly show the South won—the characters journey into the world of conspiracy theorists. The film is a fine showcase for the uniformly good cast and for Shelton in her best register: warm, inquisitive, funny, moving. May 16, McCaw Hall, $75

Good Kisser
Good Kisser unfolds over one Seattle night as Jenna (Kari Alison Hodge) and Kate (Rachel Paulson) try to enliven their relationship by heading to another woman’s home. The three-way soon becomes a tangle of attraction, anxiety, conflicted yearnings, and secrets. The acting can drift from natural to flat and dialogue sometimes clunks (“I think you like her like her.” “You love her love her.”). But local writer and director Wendy Jo Carlton lets the night unravel with admirable patience, a simmering restraint that yields human nuance. May 17, SIFF Cinema Uptown; May 19, AMC Pacific Place, $15

Frances Ferguson 
Frances Ferguson (Kaley Wheless) is a Nebraska high school substitute who has sex with a 16-year-old student. She goes to jail and through court-mandated rehabilitation: therapy, community service. This plays as detached, cynical comedy: Frances is willfully arch and inexpressive, and with Nick Offerman providing meta-narration, the film—which went through post-production here—feels like a grimmer, colder Arrested Development. It’s at its best characterizing the squirmy strangeness of institutional systems and people. But it's funny, even bitingly, only sporadically, and a late gesture toward redemption doesn’t land. May 20, Majestic Bay; May 25, SIFF Cinema Uptown; May 26, AMC Pacific Place, $15

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