SFIFF 57 – Three Movies for the Price of None (“Obvious Child”, “Salvation Army”, “The One I Love”)

Well, I managed to return to the San Francisco International Film Festival for another day and timed things so that I would be able to catch three more films as a guest of the San Francisco Film Society.   With so many choices and varying screening times, you really have to plan your day out.  A review of the Festival catalog made it clear that my options were limited, but I found a couple whose descriptions were intriguing so it was off to the Press Office and on to the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas.

I began with Obvious Child, an SFFS supported film directed by Gillian Robespierre and starring comedienne Jenny Slate. Slate plays – get ready – a stand up comedienne whose life seems to be falling apart after the quick loss of her boyfriend and her job. After a disastrous stand-up set, she finds herself hooking up with a saloon patron and a couple of weeks later – get ready – she finds out she’s pregnant! What’s a stand-up comedienne to do?


The film is on “Hold Review” status, which means I can’t give it a full review till it lands a distributor or opens commercially.  No worries.  I can sum it up with the following simple equation –

LIfetime Movie + Standup Comedy = Obvious Child

That being said, Slate does OK with her first lead role and Jake Lacy is extremely appealing as the father-to-be (or not-to-be…)  Richard Kind, Polly Draper and David Cross make cameo appearances and give the film somewhat of a lift.

I quick walk back to the Festival Lounge meant time for a cold Grolsch and another look at the Festival Program. I had three films from which to choose.  I went with Salvation Army (L’armée du salut), a Moroccan film based on an “autobiographical novel” by Abdellah Taia and directed by the author himself. I find the international perspective on growing up gay always of interest to me.  The Festival always seems to have that perspective well represented in their programs. Unfortunately, this is not one of the stronger films I have seen on the subject.


Having not read the source material, I can’t speak to the faithfulness of its adaptation. It tells the tale of young (teen, pre-teen?) boy, dealing with the harshness of a lower middle-class life, a houseful of family, an older brother for whom he may or may not have strong feelings, and his exploration of (and exploitation of) his sexuality.  The film takes a jarring ten year leap-in-time from its original point to show us a very different young man.  Quite frankly, I think I would have been more interested in what happened in those ten years and the experiences shaped him into the young man seen in the last third of the film.  The film felt incomplete.

So it was back to the Festival Lounge and the search for another film that could maybe end my evening on a high note. Nothing jumped out at me from the Program, but then I noticed a printout lying under a couple of spent Grolschs. It was a listing of additional screenings added to the Festival after the program was printed, and they all looked interesting.

Playing at 9:15 was a film entitled The One I Love starring Mark Duplass, Elisabeth Moss and Ted Danson. As there was nothing in the program about the film, I grabbed the ol’ smart phone and started to do some research. The first thing I found was a plea to STOP READING ABOUT THE FILM AND JUST GO SEE IT.  Needless to say, I found this very intriguing… so I did just that. And I was glad that I did. I will say little about this film and what I do say may not generate any interest in the film for you, but if you like films with terrific performances and an original thought behind them, then consider checking this film out when it plays in your area.


Duplass and Moss play a married couple whose relationship has grown stale. Seeking the help of a therapist (Danson, whose on-screen time is probably less than five minutes), they agree to go on a retreat and try to rediscover and reignite the feelings they once had for each other.

And that’s where I have to stop.

Screenwriter Justin Lader was in attendance and had a great Q & A session with SFFS Programmer Rod Armstrong and the audience but I can’t even discuss THAT as it too would spoil your complete enjoyment of this film. Hell, I went looking for a trailer to post for the film before I realized that there isn’t one because… well, you know what trailers usually do.  So just go ahead, take a chance. Resist the urge to figure out what I’m NOT trying to say. The One I Love is the kind of movie that can generate hours of post-film discussion, particularly with your significant other. If you love movies, then you should respect that.

And that’s the kind of film I wanted to end my time with at the the 57th San Francisco International Film Festival.

Mission accomplished. See you next year…



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