Friday's SIFF highlights: 'Fat Kid Rules the World,' 'Polisse,' 'Trishna'
Films playing at the Seattle International Film Festival on Friday, May 18, include the coming-of-age tale "Fat Kid Rules the World," filmed in the Northwest; "Polisse," which focuses on France's Child Protective Unit; and "Trishna," which relocates Thomas Hardy's 1891 novel, "Tess of the d'Urbervilles," to modern India and stars Freida Pinto.
Seattle International Film Festival, through June 10 at SIFF Cinema at the Uptown, Egyptian, Pacific Place, Harvard Exit, SIFF Cinema at the Film Center, Renton Ikea Performing Arts Center (through Thursday only), Everett Performing Arts Center (May 24-31), Kirkland Performance Center (May 31-June 10). Tickets are $11 for most individual films; various passes and packages are available. Information: 206-324-9996 or www.siff.net.
"Fat Kid Rules the World" (not rated): Filmed in the Northwest, this coming-of-age movie never lets you forget it. A Metro bus marked "Seattle" almost bumps off the overweight and suicidal hero (Jacob Wysocki). Volunteer Park is seen primarily as a cruising/hustling spot. Harborview Medical Center plays a major role in the plot, and so does Neumos. The Space Needle has never looked so puny. The first-time director is Matthew Lillard, whose sister, Amy, used to work for SIFF — though he's better-known as a "Scream" veteran who recently had a career breakthrough as George Clooney's nemesis in "The Descendants." In "Fat Kid," the chief scene-stealer is Billy Campbell, playing an ex-Marine who doesn't know how to manage his kids.
7 p.m. Friday at the Renton Ikea Performing Arts Center; also 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Egyptian and 6 p.m. May 28 at the Everett Performing Arts Center.
"Polisse" (not rated): Perhaps not since SIFF screened Alan Ball's "Towelhead" has the festival booked a film that suggests such potential for making audiences squirm. The subject is France's Child Protective Unit, which requires members to track down and punish child molesters, rapists, teachers and parents who think nothing of using their children's sexuality to force them into submission. "We had a relationship that was like love," says one self- justifying teacher — and there's more where that came from. The single-named director, Maïwenn, freely uses comic relief, musical numbers and obscure trivia to create an Altman-style madhouse. The result took the Jury Prize at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.
9 p.m. Friday at SIFF Cinema at the Uptown; also 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Harvard Exit.
"Trishna" (R): In 1996, Michael Winterbottom tried to film Thomas Hardy's "Jude the Obscure," but the result was successful only as a vehicle for Kate Winslet. He's done better by Hardy this time, relocating Hardy's 1891 novel, "Tess of the d'Urbervilles," to modern India. Lush and lusty, featuring a Bollywood subplot and an irresistible East-meets-West score, it stars Freida Pinto as the tragic heroine and Riz Ahmed as her selfish lover. It's shorter than Roman Polanski's Oscar-winning "Tess" (1980), but it still captures that strong sense of place that made Hardy's original a classic.
6:30 p.m. Friday at SIFF Cinema at the Uptown; also there at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.
John Hartl: email@example.com