Five to watch: Standout Toronto film festival movies that flew under the radar

Celebrity red carpets, Hollywood premieres and lavish parties dominate the Toronto International Film Festival, but many avid filmgoers will tell you the best part is finding a hidden gem.

Here are five standout movies that slipped under the radar at this year’s fest, but offer fresh, challenging and unforgettable experiences worth a spot on your must-see list:

“Thelma” — Given there’s no shortage of coming-of-age stories at film festivals, it’s telling that Norwegian director Joachim Trier’s haunting tale rose above the rest. Centred on a young woman who’s just starting to understand her newfound supernatural powers, the film carries with it an ominous and sinister tone that evokes the best traits of classics like “Carrie” and “Let the Right One In.” It isn’t until we learn exactly what this teenager is capable of that the pieces of her story begin to align to chilling effect. “Thelma” has been selected as Norway’s foreign language Oscar entry and is due in theatres later this year.

“The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches” — Quebecois filmmaker Simon Lavoie reshapes Gaetan Soucy’s narratively complex novel into a viscerally unsettling black-and-white film. Set on a secluded Quebec farm in the 1930s, two children confront their twisted upbringing after the sudden death of their emotionally abusive father. It’s a stark experience, but Lavoie’s masterful use of tone winnows under your skin and will fester long after the film ends.

“Beast” — Two riveting leads elevate this hypnotic British thriller to a higher level of effectiveness. Jessie Buckley is perfectly cast as a sheltered young woman who becomes transfixed on a rugged hunter, played by Johnny Flynn of Netflix’s “Lovesick.” Their partnership quickly ignites but the woman begins to question his mysterious past when a local teen goes missing, and all signs point to her beau. But she must also contend with her own violent past which threatens to derail her dreams of a perfect union. “Beast” is a twisty story about the monster that lies within all of us, and struggle to keep it contained.

“Mademoiselle Paradis” — Lush 18th-century visuals bring life to Austrian director Barbara Albert’s recounting of a real-life blind Viennese pianist Maria Theresia von Paradis, who puts her trust in a capricious doctor that promises to restore her sight. When the seemingly impossible fix seems to take hold, others begin to wonder if they aren’t the victim of a charlatan. Actress Maria Dragus takes the titular role and runs with it, almost single-handedly carrying this film beyond the realms of the usual period piece.

“Custody” — What first appears like a mundane divorce drama contorts itself into a troubling snapshot of a custody battle told from the perspective of a 11-year-old boy. After unsuccessfully asking a judge to grant her sole custody of her son — saying he needs protection from his abusive father — a court forces a joint arrangement. The facts are murky as the child bounces between parents, hearing different versions of who’s to blame. French director Xavier Legrand captures unsettling performances from his entire cast, especially the young Thomas Gioria as the child caught in the midst of turmoil.

Other films worth watching for: “Winter Brothers,” a Danish-Icelandic study of conflict in isolation; “Lean on Pete,” a heart-crushing story of a lost teenager and his horse by “Weekend” director Andrew Haigh; and “Revenge,” a hyper-violent tale of female vengeance against her rapist that’s bound to spark conversations as much as it will divide audiences.

Just Posted

Women’s marches underway in Canadian cities, a year after Trump inauguration

Women are gathering in dozens of communities across the country today to… Continue reading

Red Deer councillor balks at city getting stuck with more funding responsibilities

Volunteer Central seeks municipal funding after being cut off by government

Olds chicken barn burns to the ground, no livestock harmed

More than 100,000 chickens were saved as fire crews prevent the blaze from spreading

Bear video meant to promote conservation: zoo owner

Discovery Wildlife Park says it will look at other ways to promote its conservation message

WATCH: Setters Place grand opening in Red Deer

Red Deer’s Setters Place officially opened to the public Saturday afternoon.… Continue reading

In photos: Get ready for Western Canadian Championships

Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Championships and Peavey Mart Alberta Cup 5/6 start… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Got milk? Highway reopened near Millet

A southbound truck hauling milk and cartons collided with a bridge

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month