Irish Film Institute -STUDENT REVIEWS


Waves – Review by Rosie 

Waves, directed by Trey Edward Shults, was released on the 17th of January 2020. This film tells a story about a family full of toxic love and fragility. It’s a very intense experience that erupts into a series of tragedies and difficult times.

Director, Writer and Editor Trey Edward Shults wrote Waves based on a story idea he had for about a decade. In earlier years he directed ‘It comes at night (2017) and Krisha (2015). Shults wrote a film that includes two waves – two sections – these two sections of the film are both filled with emotion and controversy

This film tackles a lot of serious topics such as racism, teen pregnancy, under aged drinking, drugs, toxic relationships and negative love. In southern California where it’s based; we see the intense and hard lives of a suburban black family, whose father worked hard to get where he is, after struggling with a difficult past growing up in America.

For the first wave, we follow the story of Tyler Williams (Kevin Harrison Jr.) who is being constantly pushed by his father, Ronald (Sterling K. Brown). Due to Ronald’s difficult childhood growing up in a racist society, he worked hard for his healthy family and career. We see that the Williams live in a big house and have a lot of money which Ronald earned a long with his wife and Tyler’s caring stepmother Catherine (Renée Elise Goldsberry).

Their daughter Emily (Taylor Russell) is quite a quiet girl, and as we see the consequences of Tyler’s decisions, the second wave then follows Emily. In my opinion I think the cast did an exceptional job at playing the roles of their characters and each other’s relationships. One of the scenes in the second half of the film or the second wave that I’m particularly fond of is when Emily and her father have a conversation that really changes their relationship. Due to Ronald’s busy job, and spending so much time and effort pushing to get Tyler to be the best, he rarely focuses on spending time with his daughter, and doesn’t pay much attention to her. They don’t really have a strong relationship. Later on, after a turn of events, they decide to go fishing together, and during this time alone, they really opened up to each other’s emotions. The conversation unravels, as they share how they’re both frustrated and upset. The way this scene is filmed at a lake is really affecting and beautiful.

A scene that I found really intriguing was when Ronald and Tyler have a one to one conversation that starts out with a topic about something simple but as they talk some more, we can see that Ronald is quite a sensitive and angry person with serious issues. The way this scene is filmed is quite clever, as it is shot in silence with close ups, which make this scene very tense. It is also filmed in Tyler’s room, while he is doing work for his father’s business. During their conversation we see how something is bothering Tyler. He avoids eye contact with his father and that frustrates Ronald. As they look at each other, the scene immediately gets very hostile.

I found this movie really surprising. I didn’t realise how much the plot would thicken. As the story unfolded more and more into the film, it crescendoed into a massive emotional scenario. I also thought it was very clever the way Shults titled the movie Waves, as the movie portrays the title in such a unique way.

Review by Rosie, TY Work Experience Student – Feb 2020


Queen & Slim Review by Nathan


Queen & Slim, directed by Melina Matsoukas, was released on January 31, 2020. A major topic this movie tackles is racism and the Black Lives Matter movement, and how black people are still not treated equally, even to this day.

The story begins with two characters, Slim and Queen, going on a first date in Ohio that takes an unexpected turn when a policeman pulls them over for a minor traffic violation. The situation escalates and it ends up with Slim shooting the officer in self- defence. Believing they have no other choice because they killed a police officer, they go on the run to evade the law. Deciding to travel to New Orleans from Ohio to visit Queens’s reluctant Uncle, Earl for help before embarking on a journey to Miami encountering a host of problems when travelling there.

Queen & Slim is not based on a true story but it was inspired by true events such as the shooting of Trayvon Martin by a police officer while Trayvon was walking unarmed to his father’s home in Florida, 2012.

The story was by James Frey and Lena Waithe. The two main characters, Slim played by Daniel Kaluuya who also acted in Get Out (2017) and Black Panther (2018) and Queen, played by Jodie Turner-Smith, are both excellent actors who both tell the story well and show the struggles the black community go through with police brutality in the US.

People could see this movie as a remake of Bonnie & Clyde (1967) but I think it isn’t. Although it does have its similarities – a couple fall in love, then do something bad and have to run away – it’s not the whole point of the movie. The movie honours black people who have lost someone to police brutality. Director Melina Matsoukas says that Queen and Slim aren’t criminals on the run; that they’re two very human people who have a shared experience that was not their choice, unlike with Bonnie & Clyde.

Overall I thought the movie was excellent. It really shows the struggle of how black people have to deal with racism from the police in the US. I really enjoyed the driving scenes as they show that they’re trying to make the most out of their lives: in one scene, they stop, and Slim tries to ride a horse, before they get caught and have to run away. The videography and music in these scenes made it more enjoyable and made the scenery beautiful. The dialogue between the characters is fast going because they make decisions very quickly, such as their decision to escape the country and how. One scene I didn’t like in it was a sex scene which I thought was unnecessary for the story, but others might not think that. Overall the style of the film was a thriller, romantic drama which are genres I personally enjoy watching.

The movie is rated 16s and I would encourage everyone, over the age of 16 to watch this movie so they can understand more about this topic and bring up the conversation to help create change.

 “I think that in order to create change, we have to make people uncomfortable. So for me, it’s important that everybody sees this and that we create empathy for each other. In order to create change there needs to be real dialogue, and I hope we can be a small part of that conversation.”  – Melina Matsoukas (director)

Review by Nathan,  TY Work Experience Student – Feb 2020


Our recent intern, Brian Culley, spent five weeks in IFI Education, on placement as part of his film studies degree course at DKIT.

Read his reviews on films from our schools programme:

Free Solo
Describing the film before it began, Mountaineering Ireland’s climbing officer Damien O’ Sullivan, displayed how Alex Honnold, the subject of Free Solo, defies death miles into the sky. Holding up his thumb and forefinger Damien emphasised that most of the time, Honnold is literally inches away from death, gripping onto the side of rock faces with nothing more than a determined pinch. As a free soloist, Alex participates in perhaps the most dangerous sport in the world. Clinging to the edge may be a figure of speech for most, but for Honnold it’s also a way of life.

While most climbers tackle mountains with ropes and harnesses, Alex scales cliff faces without any precautions or safety devices. There is nothing preventing him from falling to his death. Nothing but himself. But why does this man find life most perfect and liveable, whilst doing something that could mean the end of everything in an instant? By following Alex during both his most astounding and human moments, the film manages to thrill
and inspire. Terrific camerawork immerses you within Yosemite National Park. Both fellow climbers and friends of Alex, the film crew tirelessly cover his most daring moments as well as his most personal ones, when he’s alone in his van, contemplating what lies ahead or simply talking with his girlfriend. Complex and peculiar, Honnolds is a person brimming with perseverance and determination, who never settles and refuses to be like anyone else. As a result, Alex Honnold acts as an inspiring figure for all ages.

Though most will probably be reluctant to challenge the 2, 307 metre El Capitan as Alex hopes to, the film no doubt succeeds in introducing students to the world of mountaineering. In fact, for those who may be inclined to discover more about the sport, there are now many climbing wall facilities based in Dublin and around the country. Organisations like Mountaineering Ireland also assist in the growth of the sport, hosting talks, establishing activities and maintaining a growing community of like minded individuals to connect, and even climb together. Their goals tie directly back to Alex’s dedication to a sport and a greater pursuit of something fulfilling.

In a broader sense, Free Solo is a film filled with as much heart as it is suspense. Thrilling and touching, it provides a view of another world, and paints a beautiful portrait of a fascinating, likeable and unusual person. In Alex, students may find a role model, but they might also find a part of themselves. Perhaps that’s what makes Free Solo so important, lasting and affecting. It may be a film about specific person, but it’s a film that doesn’t fail to connect with everyone else.


A Colony/Une Colonie (IFI Schools French Language film touring title. Screening info:

Set in a Francophone region of Canada, A Colony follows Mylia, a fifteen year old girl who’s a bit lost and adrift in life. She’s detached from the world around her, distant from both her family and school lives. She’s without friends and without purpose, and her story is about finding both. In trying to discover who she is and who she wants to be, Mylia finds herself in new places and situations, experiencing many things she hasn’t before. A boy in her class begins to appear in her life more often, uncertain friendships seem to bloom, and Mylia must personally wrestle between the conflict of fitting in and being herself.

Subtle and restrained, A Colony never fails to be beautiful despite its subdued setting. Genevieve Dulude-de Celles’s direction and Lena Mill-Reuillard & Etienne Roussy’s cinematography builds as much depth and atmosphere as it does character and emotion. Camerawork is often handheld and roaming, capturing the innate qualities of the overcast Quebec weather alongside the downcast mood of Mylia. Often there is little need for dialogue. A look on Mylia’s face, played terrifically by Emilie Bierre is all we need to understand her inner turmoil. It is clear that this care, attention to detail and passionate creativity is deserving of the accolades the film has received, having won the Crystal Bear in Generation at the Berlin International Film Festival and received seven nominations at the 7th Canadian Screen Awards.

Through the depiction of her reluctant, cautious search for more, the film touches on a variety of other topics; peer-pressure, identity, family, culture and the importance of realising oneself. Parts of Mylia seem to long for, hope for and search for fulfilment while other parts flinch from
connection. Like any teenager, like any person, she is conflicted. These themes and the general setting allow the film to be both accessible and linguistically immersive. Ultimately, these qualities make A Colony a terrifically engaging experience, and even an educational one too. More than anything the film is occupied not just with the idea of fitting in, but in questioning if we need to. Our issues, backgrounds and unique qualities are often what make us feel miserable and isolated. Yet when embraced by ourselves, as well as encouraged by others, they tend to be the very things that make us feel special and whole.

Brian Culley, IFI Intern


Everybody Knows Review by Alannah 

A tale of deception, loyalty and family, released in 2019, from Iranian writer and director Asghar Farhadi. 

Penelope Cruz plays Laura, a woman living in Argentina returning home to Spain for her sister’s wedding with her two children. Although the film begins with a happy celebration, we can already see a dark history that has kept the family apart. We soon learn that Laura was once in love with Paco (Javier Bardem), a close family friend and local winegrower. Everyone appears to be enjoying the festivities until Laura discovers that her 16 year old daughter, Irene, has gone missing after going to bed. Laura receives a text saying that her daughter has been kidnapped and is being held for ransom. Everyone is a suspect, and the family’s loyalty is tested when their conflicting opinions on the situation threaten to tear them apart.

The film quickly introduces the setting and characters before being thrown into the chaos of the main storyline. This makes it difficult for the viewer to understand the relations of the extended family and their friends, although it does become clearer throughout the film. What makes the film more mysterious is that the director leaves a lot of unanswered questions to do with the kidnapping that the audience must fill in as the film progresses. Some of the clues that are scattered throughout the movie were left unclarified, although it is debatable whether or not this made the film more intriguing, or frustrating for the audience. In my opinion, I think that this improved the film as it left a lot of room for thought and opinion and left the viewer questioning the plot. It allows them to form their own ideas, and lets them decide which character was right or wrong. This also involves the viewer in the storyline.

Farhadi is known for exploring different cultures in his films, and creating characters that are relatable and humane, despite them usually being deeply flawed. Everybody Knows, is different as it rushes into the main plot, instead of taking the time to introduce the audience to each character. However, he creates an intense atmosphere by using the traditional setting and music to change the mood from cheerful to chaotic as the films plot changes.

Cruz and Bardem’s acting is what makes this film so captivating. The audience can feel the passion and commitment to their roles. Their emotion sets the tone for the film as we can feel the pain and frustration they feel from their situation, and can’t help ourselves from sympathizing with them and connecting to their characters. When on screen together, they capture the despair that their characters are feeling, and also help us understand the complicated family history. We can clearly see from watching the two characters interact that there is a long and emotional history behind them that is all unravelling due to Irene’s kidnapping.

Overall, Everybody Knows is a captivating film that conveys the theme of family and loyalty in a dramatic thriller. Despite the obvious plot holes, the cinematography and acting is what makes the film entertaining and gripping.

The film was played as part of an IFI Schools Screening for TY and Senior Cycle Spanish Students. Overall, the students enjoyed it and would recommend it to other students learning Spanish.

Alannah, TY Work Experience Student – Dec 2020



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