×

Locarno Festival Opens in Thunderstorm

‘2 Guns’ plays well in torrential downpour

LOCARNO — Talk about opening with a bang.

Held in the open air Piazza Grande, the inaugural ceremony of the 66th Locarno Festival unspooled on Wednesday night, with Christopher Lee accepting a Moet et Chandon Excellence Award in fluent Italian, as thunder rumbled ominously down the valley at the Swiss Alp lakeside resort.

Soon the spectacular play of lightning could have been mistaken for paparazzi’s flashlights. Half an hour into Baltasar Kormakur’s U.S. chart topper “2 Guns,” torrential rain began to lash spectators. It is a testimony to the Denzel Washington-Mark Walhberg two-hander that some of the Locarno Piazza Grande audience preferred to sit the film out in plastic anoraks, although drenched to the skin, rather than move to a nearby roofed theater that the festival makes available for such eventualities. Call it a test screening.

The Locarno international premiere of “2 Guns” probably set a record for the number of people walking out of a Washington film; which didn’t mean it played badly.

Indeed, spectators were still laughing even when standing up huddled under the Pizza Grande’s arches at Washington’s character’s attempts to fend off Wahlberg’s character’s buddy-buddy approaches.

Popular on Variety

Financed by Emmett/Furla Films and Mark Damon’s Foresight, produced by Marc Platt who has a distribution deal with Universal, and sold to Sony for much of foreign, “2 Guns” sits somewhere on the borderlands between a big indie movie and a studio film.

The fact that it opened Locarno forms part of new festival director Carlo Chatrian’s detente with Hollywood. Already spangled by name auteurs, and with a strong Asian presence this year, if Locarno were to grab more U.S. pics, it would have a chance to steal some of the Venice festival’s thunder.

That may, indeed, be its ambition. At its opening ceremony, festival president Marco Solari said its mantra was “freedom” and also, notably, “growth.”

So far it has been two modest indie pics, however, that appear to be the critics’ favorites among very early international competition films:  Joaquim Pinto’s  HIV-themed “What Now? Remind Me,” and Daniel and Diego Vega’s “El Mudo,” Kafka-meets-Kaurismaki in a magistrate’s office in Lima.

“When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism,” from Romania’s Corneliu Porumboiu, about a film director rehearsing a nude scene with his leading lady and lover, predictably split critics, fans rising to its witty observance of emotional power play within a movie-making context, naysayers simply being left cold.

More Film

  • Stellan Skarsgard

    Göteborg Listens to Stellan according to Skarsgård

    GÖTEBORG Spain — Laughs were aplenty at the Stora Theatern, where Göteborg Film Festival artistic director Jonas Holmberg welcomed the recipient of the Nordic Honorary Dragon Award, fresh off his Golden Globe win for HBO’s “Chernobyl”. “It wasn’t planned. I thought that will be my only award this year, that’s why I said yes!” – joked Skarsgård, [...]

  • Promising Young Woman

    'Promising Young Woman': Film Review

    Given that the entertainment industry is pretty much the center of the #MeToo universe in terms of generating its most public effects — and, needless to say, causes — probably no Sundance film this year will be as hot a conversation topic as “Promising Young Woman.” Emerald Fennell’s first directorial feature is a female revenge [...]

  • Little Women Movie

    'Little Women,' 'Fleabag' Win USC Scripter Awards

    Greta Gerwig’s script for “Little Women” has won the USC Libraries Scripter Award for best movie adaptation and “Fleabag” has taken the television award. The winners were announced Saturday night at USC’s Edward L. Doheny Jr. Memorial Library. “Little Women” topped “Dark Waters,” “The Irishman,” “Jojo Rabbit,” and “The Two Popes.” All but environmental drama [...]

  • Four Good Days

    'Four Good Days': Film Review

    Addiction, you could say (and I would), has become the central demon that plagues Americans. We’re addicted to everything: alcohol, illegal drugs, pharmaceutical drugs, psychotropic drugs, sugar-bomb soft drinks, processed food, video screens…you name it. In theory, addiction was made for drama, because it rips up the fabric of people’s lives, and that’s intensely dramatic. [...]

  • Netflix backed animated films “Klaus,” left,

    'Klaus,' 'I Lost My Body' Top 47th Annie Awards as Netflix Dominates

    Netflix dominated the 47th Annie Awards on Saturday, Jan. 25, picking up 19 trophies, including the top prizes of best feature (“Klaus”), best feature-independent (“I Lost My Body”), best TV/media production for preschool children (“Ask the Storybots”) and best general audience TV/media production (“BoJack Horseman”). Disney TV Animation’s “Disney Mickey Mouse” won best TV/media production [...]

  • Disney Myth A Frozen Tale

    ‘Frozen 2’-Inspired VR Film ‘Myth’ Creates Beautifully Immersive ‘Fairy Tale Within a Fairy Tale’

    With “Myth: A Frozen Tale,” Disney Animation has crafted a visually stunning virtual-reality short film — a project that flexes its VR muscles but deftly uses the technology in service of storytelling. Sometimes VR experiences feel like proof-of-concepts straining to justify their 3D settings. “Myth,” by contrast, employs virtual reality so effectively it feels like [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content