Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches our attention with its vivid characters and original setting. Based on real people and situations, it also rings unusually truthful in its combination of comedy and drama. It's another remarkably observant movie from Danish director Lone Scherfig (An Education).
The setting is 1940s London, where the Ministry of Information has assembled a team to make movies to help with the war effort. Catrin (Gemma Arterton) is a secretary who finds herself assigned as a screenwriter, working alongside Buckley and Parfitt (Sam Claflin and Paul Ritter) to write movies for veteran actor Ambrose (Bill Nighy). When Catrin discovers a story about twin sisters who participated in the Dunkirk boatlift, she proposes it as a film idea, and soon the entire crew goes into production, adding an American soldier (Jake Lacy) to the cast to accommodate the wishes of US military allies. This annoys Ambrose, who had been hoping to play the hero himself.
Scherfig directs the film with a light touch that brings the period to vivid life and never bogs down in the intensity of wartorn Britain, recognising the reality while undermining it with brittle humour and messy romance. Catrin has an artist husband (Jack Huston) who isn't happy about her new job, and there are hints of a romantic-comedy subplot between Catrin and Buckley.
Continue reading: Their Finest Review
John Crowley, Finola Dwyer, Amanda Posey , Nick Hornby - EE British Academy Film Awards 2016 (BAFTAs) held at Royal Opera House - Press Room at British Academy Film Awards - London, United Kingdom - Sunday 14th February 2016
Director John Crowley and writer Nick Hornby never even try to temper the flood of emotions that this story elicits, instead wading straight in. Thankfully, they manage to resist sentimentality at every step, although perhaps some more offhanded, edgy humour would have helped balance it better. Because as is, this film can be rather overwhelming at times, thanks to the sensitive, honest performances from the cast and a subject most people can identify with: how it feels to leave home.
It opens in 1950, as Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) is reluctantly preparing to leave her home and family in rural Ireland for a new life in New York City, arranged with the help of an Irish priest, Father Flood (Jim Broadbent). As she settles into the boarding house run by Mrs Kehoe (Julie Walters), she gets a department store job and starts studying bookkeeping, all of which helps take her mind off her homesickness. She also meets the persistent, charming Italian-American Tony (Emory Cohen), and they fall lustily in love. Just as life doesn't seem so bad after all, Eilis gets bad news and has to travel home to see her family. There, she meets the eligible bachelor Jim (Domhnall Gleeson). And now she will have to make a decision about where her home is.
The film's tone is open and emotive from the very start, with warmly glowing cinematography, a surging musical score and lots of over-serious conversations. The hills of Ireland have never looked so green, the bustling streets of Brooklyn never seemed quite so exciting. There are some comedic touches here and there, but the main tone here can be summed up in the word "yearning". This is a film that's easy to identify with for anyone who has ever moved away from home, especially as it explores conflicting loyalties and unexpected opportunities. These themes are much stronger than the romantic triangle that drives the film forward.
Continue reading: Brooklyn Review
With a darkly serious theme and a corny rom-com filmmaking approach, this film never quite comes together into something meaningful. The characters are full of possibilities, and the story catches the imagination, but director Pascal Chaumeil (Heartbreaker) never seems sure whether he's making a black comedy or an emotional drama.
It starts on New Year's Eve in London, as disgraced TV host Martin (Pierce Brosnan) decides to jump off a tower block. But he's interrupted by the arrival of the timid Maureen (Toni Collette), who is followed by the fiery Jess (Imogen Poots) and the secretive J.J. (Aaron Paul). Together, these four lost souls make a pact to stay alive for six more weeks until Valentine's Day, the next popular suicide date in the calendar. But their story leaks to the press, capitalising on Martin's notoriety and the fact that Jess is the daughter of a high-profile politician (Sam Neill). So they decide to escape to the sunshine for some peace.
Instead of playing this out as a brittle exploration of identity and societal expectations, the filmmakers opt for a romantic-comedy formula, with a four-way friendship standing in for the usual love story. This makes the film feel like a substandard Richard Curtis movie, constantly drifting into maudlin sentimentality. And director Chaumeil encourages the cast to overplay every scene, which makes it tricky to believe any of the characters.
Continue reading: A Long Way Down Review
In 1961 London, Jenny (Mulligan) is a gifted 16-year-old on track for a place at Oxford University, much to the joy of her parents (Molina and Seymour), literature teacher (Williams) and headmistress (Thompson). Then she meets the charismatic David (Sarsgaard), an older man who sweeps her off her feet with a love of the arts, his glamorous life and intelligent friends (Cooper and Pike) who offer more engagement than Jenny finds with those her age. Jenny loves being all grown up around them. Who needs Oxford?
Continue reading: An Education Review
Dominic Cooper, Carey Mulligan, Nick Hornby, Lone Scherfig, Amanda Posey, Finola Dwyer and Matthew Beard - Dominic Cooper, Carey Mulligan, Nick Hornby, Lone Scherfig, Amanda Posey, Finola Dwyer and Matthew Beard London, England - at a photocall for 'An Education' at the May Fair Hotel. Tuesday 20th October 2009
It's not like I'm devoted to our beloved Red Sox as obsessively as Ben Wrightman (Jimmy Fallon, in all his awkward glory). When Ben, a high-energy math teacher meets Lindsey, Drew Barrymore's on-the-rise executive, it's wintertime and Ben is, well, different. Because each April, Ben's only love is 26 guys, a ballpark, and a dream... the world of the Boston Red Sox.
Continue reading: Fever Pitch (2005) Review
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