London Film Festival Day 7: The Birth Of A Nation, I Am Not A Serial Killer & Layla M

Oscars? No chance.

The Birth Of A Nation Armie Hammer Nate Parker
Fox Searchlight

After a barnstorming sixth day at the 60th annual BFI London Film Festival, which saw the UK debuts of Arrival and Paterson, day seven can't help but feel like a bit of an anti-climax, with Nate Parker's much-discussed The Birth of a Nation proving hugely divisive among festival critics.

Elsewhere, Christopher Lloyd and Max Records both made startling returns to the big-screen in the surprisingly satisfying thriller I Am Not A Serial Killer, and Layla M asked difficult questions about religious extremism in compelling fashion.

It was a day full of provocative fare even though none of the day's films could be called anything approaching "great", yet day eight is sure to perk things up with premieres for Oscar hopeful Lion, moody South Korean thriller The Wailing and kinda-documentary Kate Plays Christine.

Here's our coverage from day 7 of the BFI London Film Festival...

3. The Birth Of A Nation

The Birth Of A Nation Armie Hammer Nate Parker
Fox Searchlight Pictures

Ignore the unsavoury controversy surrounding writer-director-star Nate Parker's personal life, and his movie about Nat Turner's slave rebellion is...really not worth all that rapturous Sundance hype.

Though it benefits majorly from the committed performances (most of all Parker himself) and a certain compelling grimness, Parker's inexperience as a director severely lets the film down, allowing it devolve into sappy melodrama and indulge some rather ham-fisted attempts at symbolism.

Visually, the film is all over the place, switching at a moment's notice from gorgeously-composed, haunting imagery to something so flat and lifeless it wouldn't look out of place in a Lifetime production.

With all this considered, The Birth of a Nation isn't a bad movie: it's actually a fairly decent directorial debut, but it's difficult not to come into the film with a tremendous amount of baggage given that it has been touted as an Oscar hopeful for nine months now.

Rating: Infuriatingly, appropriately shocking, The Birth of a Nation is a harrowing portal into the past, but is also compromised severely by the questionable creative decisions of its driving creative force. 6/10


Stay at home dad who spends as much time teaching his kids the merits of Martin Scorsese as possible (against the missus' wishes). General video game, TV and film nut. Occasional sports fan. Full time loon.