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Two new movies respect their characters’ lives

The PR Factory

I can’t know if the Indian film All We Imagine as Light will end up being the best movie of the year, but there’s a pretty good chance I won’t stop thinking about it for the rest of the year, or at the very least, I hope the feeling I still have after watching it stays with me for that long. The movie just won the Cannes Film Festival’s Grand Prix, which is the second-highest award at the festival, and it follows two hospital nurses in Mumbai, one of whom is married to a man she’s barely known, the other who is younger and in love with a Muslim man, which she feels she must keep secret.

This is the second feature from director Payal Kapadia, who also won a major prize at Cannes for her first film, and tonally it hits the sweetest of spots for me—the movie is sweet, bittersweet, whimsical, sad, tender, and so kind and generous to its characters and the feelings and difficulties that make up their lives. But it’s also remarkably well made—Kapadia knows how to reveal layers of emotion just with a small movement of her camera, and the way she dances with her music and dialogue and editing is somehow calmly rapturous.

All We Imagine as Light should be out later this year, but if you’re looking for something to watch right now, the movie I was going to talk about before I fell in love with Kapadia’s film is the teen drama Backspot, which is available on demand and is about a handful of girls involved in competitive cheerleading. And what’s so refreshing about this film is that it respects these young people as people, allowing them to have feelings and be human, but it also respects that they are young people. They’re goofy and silly and make confusing decisions, and the movie doesn’t try to give them insights or problems the majority of people their age don’t have. A lot of movies like this get too far out of hand, but this one doesn’t lead us to overly dark places, it just lets the girls have the everyday difficulties they would be likely to have. It may not ultimately be that deep, but it does feel honest.

Fletcher Powell has worked at KMUW since 2009 as a producer, reporter, and host. He's been the host of All Things Considered since 2012 and KMUW's movie critic since 2016. Fletcher is a member of the Critics Choice Association.