TIFF 2019: Our Review of ‘The Twentieth Century’

TIFF 2019: Our Review of ‘The Twentieth Century’

You are not ready for The Twentieth Century. As much as you may feel you can prep yourself for Matthew Rankin’s all-out, anything can happen, procession of insanity, such feelings are futile. This is the kind of film that champions its walkouts just as thoroughly as its zealous converts. You’ll quickly know what side you’re on.

For purely summary related purposes, The Twentieth Century is a historical re-envisioning of the life of William Lyon Mackenzie King (Daniel Beirne), as a series of abject humiliations as part of his quest for power. This, however, is a poor description, as is any real attempt as plot summation for this film.

Easily the most noticeable strength of Rankin’s debut is the dutifully crafted aesthetic, consisting here of both 16mm and Super 8 footage. The grain pleasantly swims across the screen, and the celluloid textures delightfully bring out the best in the densely curated colour palette. This is a film awash in rich ocean blues and plush lavender hues.

Unfortunately,The Twentieth Century peaks very early into its run time; at the bizarre feats of strength in chapter 3 to be precise. At 90 minutes, this should not feel as long as it does, and yet, Chapters 6-10 are a slog in the back half of this film. It feels as if this should have more to say than it does. But again, this is the kind of film that champions its walkouts just as thoroughly as its zealous converts. You’ll quickly know what side you’re on.

This post was written by
Thomas Wishloff is currently an MA student at York University. He is new to the Toronto Film Scene, but has periodically written and podcasted for several now defunct ventures, and has probably commented on a forum with you at some point. The ex-Edmontonian has been known to enjoy a good board game, and claims to know the secret to the best popcorn in the world.
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