THE TIES – CIFF 2020 QUICKIE REVIEW

The official opening night film of this year’s Venice Film Festival, The Ties or more well known in Italian as “Lacci” is a standard domestic drama on the pitiful downsides of infidelity. With a strong sense period-drama costume and production design, alongside two beautifully bickering performances at the film’s core, the film is a moderately entertaining family drama with a few standout elements. For example, there are several effective usages of silence throughout the film. In moments of quietude, nothing feels secure. During these scenes, the edge and the relationship context of the characters involved comes into an even broader light, through impeccable framing and nuance. It’s impressive how much in the film can be communicated with the power of the moving image and reserved silence. 

Though The Ties becomes quite the drag when it too often meddles with alternating timelines. The film is messy, where the basic and semi-conventional plot is unnecessarily extended through numerous flashbacks. If anything, the final thirty minutes or so — which involves a rather major reveal — could have easily worked on its own as an independent short film. The Ties is a redundant film, and cutting the film down to its very bare essentials could potentially result in more emotionally gratifying results. In a film already filled to the brim with obvious visual metaphors of puzzle boxes, radios, shoelaces, and nature documentaries to convey a deteriorating family dynamic, the film still somehow feels distant with the audience. What the The Ties really needed was a more polished setup and resolution for it to be remotely considered as relatable and memorable at the end of the day.

The Ties screened at this year’s 56th Chicago International Film Festival as part of the Masters program.

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