x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Themes of poverty and recession infuse Venice Film Festival

Poverty, and the effects of the 2008 economic crash, were emerging themes at this year's Venice Film Festival.

Nicolas Cage, right, and Tye Sheridan in the movie Joe. Worldview Entertainment
Nicolas Cage, right, and Tye Sheridan in the movie Joe. Worldview Entertainment

Nicolas Cage reinhabits a low-life version of his Leaving Las Vegas alcoholic in the drama Joe. The movie, which is set in the southern United States, screened on Friday at the Venice Film Festival, while a German film explores the dark issue of wife beating in the latest competition offerings.

Poverty and the effects of the 2008 economic crash were emerging themes at this year’s festival, which closes on Saturday.

On Wednesday, the Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón said his big-budget, space-disaster drama Gravity, the festival opener, had almost been derailed by the economic crash.

The director Paul Schrader, who wrote Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, said on Friday that economics had pretty much transformed the industry.

“The film business is undergoing a systematic change – not systematic, systemic change. Everything we know in this from the past doesn’t apply,” said Schrader, who made the latest Lindsay Lohan movie Canyons on a low budget.

In Joe, directed by David Gordon Green, Cage plays a hot-headed southerner who befriends a young boy who comes from a violent background. Poverty oozes out of almost every scene, from the battered lorry Joe drives to pick up black workers he employs to poison a forest for clearance, to his neighbours in tumbledown shacks who eat wild animals they find by the side of the road.

“I was very careful in the selection of the movie. I hadn’t worked for one year and then I found this script,” Cage said.

There’s also Die Frau des Polizisten (The Police Officer’s Wife), which shows a young family in provincial Germany whose seemingly carefree life descends into violence.

The director Philip Gröning said that while the film was mostly about the emotional and psychological triggers for abuse, economics also played a role.

“The film does not deal with domestic violence only, the film is also dealing with the love between the mother and the daughter,” Gröning said. “There is also the poverty aspect to the film.” – Reuters

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