SIFF 2017 Highlights: Challenged Ideals

The Trip to Spain (dir. Michael Winterbottom, 2017)

The Trip to Spain (dir. Michael Winterbottom, 2017)

Editor’s Note: The following review is part of our coverage of the 2017 Seattle International Film Festival . For more information please visit

SIFF 2017’s diversity in theme didn’t just put us under the boot of an oppressive power to give us interesting and diverse perspectives – no, it also elucidated those perspectives by challenging their basic, human beliefs. Three films I saw did this extraordinarily well; one challenged a high school graduate’s supposed understanding of his peers with the looming unknown of college, one contrasted the lofty romantic ideals of a young, gay college student (molded by his high school career) with the real, cyclically-devastating world of adulthood’s dating scene, and one chose to strand an aging actor on a figurative desert island miles away from his irrational expectations of old age.

Say You Will
Director: Nick Naveda

High school’s ended, college is on the way. The unknown looms, and it’s scary yet necessary. Letting people in is what you should do (you’re disappearing on them if otherwise, which is what you’re really afraid of), but opening the doors that keep you comfortable… that’s difficult. The perspective of a high-schooler is hard to get right, or even understand, but with his very first film, Nick Naveda has already proved he can do this and more. Naveda’s skilled hand not only follows in the footsteps of John Hughes, it cuts its own path. He should be proud of what he’s done here.

Prom King 2010

Director: Christopher Schaap

High school culture & high school nostalgia teach us to expect fantasy from adult life — cliches, the shimmering and happy ones. However much we’d like to achieve those cliches, like dear friends and sweeping romance, achieving anything in that proximity requires rolling with the cliches we’d like to avoid — heartbreak, failure, disappointment. Prom King 2010, Christopher Schaap’s writing, directing, and acting debut is as enamored with & as terrified of the beast of human connection as the rest of us are. It feels bafflingly honest, like a friend you can wholeheartedly trust.

The Trip to Spain
Director: Michael Winterbottom

The Trip and The Trip to Italy were films drenched in equal amounts of comedy and melancholy. Underneath copious Michael Caine impressions sat two films, both charting the trajectory of two men and their friendship at distinct points in the aging process — The Trip to Spain only deviates from this tradition by being the best of the series. Rob Brydon’s acceptance of aging has finally come around, Steve Coogan’s still looking for his, and the two have drastically differing expectations of love, friendship, and life. What ensues is simply wonderful.


About Author

Brandon is attached to all forms of media, whether TV-related or social, but loves film the most. He strives to watch as much as possible, whenever possible.