TIFF FILM REVIEW: Max Winkler’s ‘Ceremony’

Michael Angarano and Reece Thompson in Max Winkler’s ‘Ceremony’

By Ray Bennett

TORONTO – Max Winkler’s humorless “Ceremony” falls into the category of would-be comedies in which a hapless young man scores with a gorgeous woman completely out of his league.

As Sam Davis, the young man in question, Michael Angarano is not without boyish charm but it’s a mystery quite why he imagines that Uma Thurman, as the coveted Zoe, will abandon her wedding for him.

Sam entreats Zoe, with whom he had an unlikely one-night stand in New York when she was caught crying in the rain, in a series of awkward and under-written scenes at several beach events leading up to the wedding.

The opening scenes suggest that a comedy will break out, but as the film proceeds it becomes apparent that it will not. Thurman’s presence will not be enough to keep the production from slipping away unheralded and unseen.

Sam, who claims to be a writer of children’s books, persuades neurotic pal Marshall (Reece Thompson) to go on holiday at the beach as ruse in order to crash the wedding.

There, he discovers that groom Whit (Lee Pace) is a grandiloquent British filmmaker who has won an Oscar for his documentaries in Africa. Handsome, confident and generous, Whit also is devoted to Zoe.

That doesn’t stop the film backing Sam’s chances, however, and there’s an alarming lack of irony about the boy’s self-regard, mannered way of speaking, and general conduct. His character makes no sense, and neither does the film.

Venue: Toronto International Film Festival; Sales: Film Nation Entertainment; Production companies: NALA Films, Polymorphic Films; Cast: Uma Thurman, Michael Angarano, Reece Thompson, Lee Pace, Jake Johnson; Director, screenwriter: Max Winkler; Producers: Emilio Diez Barroso, Darlene Caamano Loquet; Executive producers: Jason Reitman, Daniel Dubiecki, Joshua Zeman, Corrie Rothbart, Billy Rovzar, Fernando Rovzar, Jeff Keswin, Alexjandro Garcia; Director of photography: William Rexer II; Production designer: Inbal Weinberg; Music: Eric D. Johnson; Costume designer: Heidi Bivens; Editor: Joe Landauer; No rating, running time 90 minutes.

This review appeared in The Hollywood Reporter.

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