Connect with us
The Survivor
Image Courtesy of TIFF

Film

TIFF 2021: The Survivor Features an Incredible Ben Foster Performance

Barry Levinson’s latest film, The Survivor, is a boxing drama that covers the life of Harry Haft as he wrestles with his own guilt.

The Survivor Review

Barry Levinson’s latest film, The Survivor, is an occasionally interesting but ultimately messy misfire barely held together by a commanding performance from Ben Foster. In what is further proof of his ability to inhabit complicated roles, Foster ducks and weaves through clunky dialogue and some conventional biopic storytelling to uncover the grief and pain lying being his character’s hardened exterior.

Told over three different periods in Harry Haft’s (Foster) life, The Survivor moves between Haft’s later years of retirement back to his post-war boxing career and then back into the concentration camp where Haft fought to survive – at the cost of others’ lives. This shift between time periods comes as Haft reflects on his life and the choices he made that kept him alive and forged the relationships he has now.

Based on the true story of Haft, The Survivor’s main draw besides Foster is the source of his pain. During his time in Auschwitz, Haft became a fighter. Bets would be placed as prisoners would fight in the concentration camps, and Haft proved himself an invaluable asset to one specific German officer (played by Billy Magnussen). From their training birthed a boxing career and Haft’s journey to find peace is constantly marred by his memory of the time there. Shot in gorgeous black-and-white, the scenes taking place in the concentration camp are some of the best looking of the film, employing a confident use of shadows and capturing the bleakness of the situation.

TIFF 2021: The Survivor
Image: TIFF

It’s everywhere else that The Survivor is competent but hardly satisfying. The modern day and mid-period scenes are all flat-looking and while actors like Danny DeVito, Peter Sarsgaard and John Leguizamo help liven things up, they never amount to more than just surface-level amusement. There’s also Vicky Krieps who has the unenviable role of playing Haft’s love interest – a character that is given the tiniest shred of nuance in a supporting position against Haft as he tries to reconcile his grief.

Ultimately, The Survivor is just an avenue for Foster to provide some of the best acting in his career. He imbues the role with a slight levity that hides the pain that threatens to surface at any point. It could be in the middle of a fight when Haft falls back into his memories, taking punches like it’s a form of punishment. Throughout it all, Foster demonstrates a man who did what he needed to in order to survive and now finds himself reminded daily of his actions and frequently forced to wrestle with justifying them.

Unfortunately, The Survivor is the kind of biopic that tells more than it shows in every facet except Foster’s performance. He’s the one who provides the nuance the film so desperately needs. Outside of that, it’s a fairly standard drama that finds itself retreading familiar ground despite its compelling central character having more than enough material to take a more interesting approach.

The 46th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival, taking place September 9–18, is tailored to fit the moment, with physical screenings and drive-ins, digital screenings, virtual red carpets, press conferences, and industry talks. Find all our coverage here.

Written By

Chris is a graduate of Communications from Simon Fraser University and resides in Victoria, British Columbia. Given a pint, he will talk for days about action films, video games, and the works of John Carpenter.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Facebook

Trending

Exploring the Life and Career of Steve Perry: From Music to Personal Relationships

Celebrity

Memphis Anchor Cause of Death Revealed! How Did She Die?

Celebrity

Kim Gravel’s Journey Through Bell’s Palsy and Embracing Self-Acceptance

Celebrity

Is Annie Osgood Gay? Unveiling the Reality Behind Her Alleged Sexual Orientation!

Celebrity

Dexter Romweber Cause of Death: Exploring the Factors Contributing to His Passing!

Celebrity

Martell Holt Net Worth Martell Holt Net Worth

Martell Holt Net Worth

Culture

Rachel Maddow’s Health Update and Illness Explained

Celebrity

Is Sandra Smith Pregnant? The Latest Updates on Sandra’s Alleged Pregnancy!

Celebrity

Joni Mitchell Announces First Los Angeles Concert In 24 Years

Celebrity

Is Elisabeth Moss Pregnant? Moss Addresses Speculation About Her Pregnancy!

Celebrity

Benzino Drops Another Eminem Diss

Celebrity

Exploring the Journey of Yasmine Bleeth: From Stardom to a Quiet Life

Celebrity

Chris and Zoe’s Relationship Update from Love Island Australia

Celebrity

Let’s Dive­ Deeper into Dallas Liu’s Life­ – Is Dallas Liu Dating Someone?

Celebrity

Who Is Kelsey Cook’s Husband? Who Is Her Husband and How They Tied the Knot?

Celebrity

Melissa McCarthy Weight Loss: The Ultimate Guide to Her Inspiring Weight Loss Journey!

Celebrity

Connect