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TIFF 2023 Review: Arthur & Diana – “Displays a light touch which is refreshing”

Siblings Arthur and Diana along with the latter’s two-year-old son head from Berlin to Paris for the annual safety inspection of their beloved old Renault but find themselves making a few detours along the way.

A mid shot of a man filling his arms with what looks like a jumbled array of junk food and subsequently passing it through the opened passenger’s window of a pale yellow and rusted Renault that sputters when the ignition key is turned, and in the process, unleashes a choke-worthy cloud of exhaust.   It turns out the person in question is Patrick, the husband of Diana and father of two-year-old Lupo who are embarking on a road trip with his brother-in-law Arthur.  What is supposed to be a relaxing holiday for the siblings instead has them experiencing a wide range of emotions from being pulled over by the police, visiting their mother, partying, attending a funeral, and detouring to Italy.

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Arthur and Diana have contrasting personalities with the former relying on GPS while the latter finds traditional paper maps more assuring.  As expected, conflicts arise from individuals being in such close quarters with someone else and of course, siblings never get along for the long term.  Sara Summa does quartet duty as the writer, editor, director and female lead and does an admired job in the four disciplines; interestingly enough she has decided to perform alongside her real-life brother Robin Summa leading to a natural onscreen chemistry between them.  The scene that does cause a smile is when two-year-old Lupo Piero Summa (guessing that the last name is not a coincidence) is able to discover the music app on the smartphone that his mother is struggling to find.

There is a Kodachrome aesthetic to the colour palette that gives the imagery a family home movie feel, especially when travelling inside of the car where the camera is like another passenger.  The same can be said of the editing which has an in-the-moment quality.  The sound design and music are not intrusive and avoid overtly stating what the mood is for particular scenes.  The camera and audience are allowed to stretch their legs in intervals which provides an opportunity to change up the dynamics by introducing new characters and environments beyond the vehicle’s confines.  The sophomore feature for Summa displays a light touch which is refreshing to see but does at times have the air of being a road previously travelled.

The 47th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 7-17, 2023, and for more information visit    

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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