Review: "I'll Find You"
A stellar supporting turn from Stellan in a mostly ok movie.
Supposing that a movie could or should be partially considered on the quality of a filmmaker’s past work, I’ll Find You would be an easy recommendation to make. Its director is Martha Coolidge, who previously made seminal 80s flicks Real Genius and Valley Girl, two films that by themselves would increase interest in any of an auteur’s follow-ups. And Coolidge’s follow-ups have included the HBO drama Introducing Dorothy Dandridge and the Walter Matthau/Jack Lemmon starrer Out to Sea. Ups and downs? More like work, more work, and fine work.
And so, what is I’ll Find You in the scope of Coolidge’s catalog? More work.
The film tells the story of young opera singer Robert (Leo Suter) and his unrelenting pursuit to find his violinist love Rachel (Adelaide Clemens) in the midst of WWII Europe. This makes up the bulk of the story, from the early middle to the very end. At the start, it’s a film of longing, with Robert and Rachel trying to re-establish an awkward romance in the days just before war breaks out. The early scenes are set in Poland, at a music school for gifted children. It’s here that the two first meet as adolescents, and have a minor confrontation over a street performer and his muzzled bear. Sooner than later, the pair are arguing about music history and performance, and ultimately begin making amends and becoming friends. From here, we return to them as adults, making out and being with one another all of the time.
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I’ll Find You has an almost fast pace throughout, stripped of anything that could be considered superfluous. What is seen on screen is the bare minimum for the plot to move along swiftly enough, and leave some breathing room for character growth. A tight script and a tighter cut, I’d be hard-pressed to find. Perhaps a result of the quickness here is how some moments are horrifically telegraphed and easily predicted, like when a German spills the beans on a Jewish hiding spot. Introduced just a few scenes prior, the character gains the trust of fellow musicians, then immediately - just feet away - speaks with two other double agents, front and center, about Nazi plans and what is expected to be done. “Ah HA!” I went, as the image of the inevitable flashed in my mind. Thankfully, that character is promptly executed by the resistance.
There’s plenty to like in the movie of course. Coolidge at her best is able to direct actors to incredible performances, the top two in I’ll Find You come from Stellan Skarsgard and Adelaide Clemens. Now, it’s a given that Skarsgard can absolutely rule a role, no matter the subject. He plays a famous tenor who mentors Robert and assists him in finding Rachel, going so far as to attempt to bribe Nazi officials for information. When his character sings before crowds, Skarsgard sells to a soulful degree. Is he “faking?” Probably, but he’s also not “faking,” playing from the chest and the heart with stunning ease. And Clemens, who comes out of her shell towards the end, left my jaw on the floor. She expresses the effects of silent pain and trauma so well; a subtle shake of her body made me shiver with sadness.
Coolidge may have had some work with I’ll Find You, but the film is not a work to watch. Despite a speedy pace and a somewhat troubled hold on the script, it all catches up once the performances are given a little bit of time to take in the air and live. From some surprises to other not-so-surprising parts, I’ll Find You goes from ho-hum to superb when given a chance. A chance from its director, and a chance from its audience. I don’t consider this “work,” but I suppose that, on occasion, “work” this can be.
That’s ok. 2.5/5
I’ll Find You is currently streaming on-demand.