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A Little Chaos Review


Audiences looking for a French historical costume drama should look elsewhere, but those who enjoy British period comedies will love it. With a pointed dash of history and politics, this is a silly movie about social status, and it's so well written and played that only cynics won't have a lot of fun with it. Thankfully, the talent both in front of and behind the camera keep the focus on the lively characters, which makes it engaging on a deeper level than expected.

The fictional story is set around real events in 1682 France, as King Louis XIV (Alan Rickman) was planning to move his court from Paris to Versailles, a vast palace still under construction. The final project there is the expansive garden, which landscaper Andre (Matthias Schoenaerts) has to complete on deadline and under budget. And everyone is shocked when he hires the little-known Sabine (Kate Winslet) to build an outdoor ballroom and fountain. But he has been smitten with her skill and passion for gardening, and there's also a gently gurgling romantic spark between them as well. The problem is that his high-society wife (Helen McCrory) notices this and sets out to sabotage Sabine's work.

There's not much here that's historically accurate, from the frankly outrageous costumes to the English filming locations and dialogue that buzzes with specifically British humour. But it's so breezy and snappy that all we can do is sit back and enjoy it for what it is. Those who do so may even find some underlying resonance in the discussions of order and chaos in landscape design, as well as the way honesty is like a blast of fresh air in a world constrained by status. Indeed, the film's most memorable scene is a gorgeously written and played chance encounter between Sabine and the King in which they initially don't know who the other is.

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Picture - Helen McCrory, Alan Rickman and... London United Kingdom, Monday 13th April 2015

Helen McCrory, Alan Rickman and Kate Winslet - A variety of celebrities were photographed as they attended the UK premiere of 'A Little Chaos' which was held at the Odeon cinema in Kensington, London, United Kingdom - Monday 13th April 2015

Helen McCrory, Alan Rickman and Kate Winslet
Helen McCrory
Helen McCrory

Picture - Helen McCrory, Alan Rickman and... London United Kingdom, Monday 13th April 2015

Helen McCrory, Alan Rickman and Kate Winslet - A variety of celebrities were photographed as they attended the UK premiere of 'A Little Chaos' which was held at the Odeon cinema in Kensington, London, United Kingdom - Monday 13th April 2015

Helen McCrory, Alan Rickman and Kate Winslet
Helen McCrory and Damian Lewis
Helen McCrory and Damian Lewis
Helen McCrory and Damian Lewis
Helen McCrory and Damian Lewis

Picture - Helen McCrory - A Little... London United Kingdom, Monday 13th April 2015

Helen McCrory - A Little Chaos - UK film premiere held at the Odeon Kensington - Arrivals. - London, United Kingdom - Monday 13th April 2015

Helen McCrory
Helen McCrory
Helen McCrory
Helen McCrory
Helen McCrory

Picture - Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory... London United Kingdom, Wednesday 25th March 2015

Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory - A variety of stars were snapped as they arrived at the BBC Films 25th Anniversary Reception which was held at BBC Broadcasting House in London, United Kingdom - Wednesday 25th March 2015

Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory
Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory

Picture - Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory... London United Kingdom, Wednesday 25th March 2015

Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory - BBC Film's 25th anniversary reception held at BBC Radio 1 - Arrivals - London, United Kingdom - Wednesday 25th March 2015

Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory
Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory

The Woman in Black: Angel of Death Review


It may not be very clever, and the plot may be full of holes, but this sequel's clammy atmosphere is so unnerving that it manages to keep us squirming in our seats. Credit has to go to director Tom Harper for making this work, because Jon Croker's script is strung together on the thinnest logic imaginable. Instead, it's the inner lives of the characters combined with the almost ridiculously freaky setting that work to keep the audience in a state of perpetual freak-out. As long as we don't try to make sense of it.

It's set 40 years after the first film, as bombs are falling in 1941 London and schoolteacher Eve (Phoebe Fox) evacuates eight students north away from the threat. Travelling with headmistress Jean (Helen McCrory), they meet charming airman Harry (Jeremy Irvine) on the train. He's headed to a new post near Eel Marsh House, where the children will be living. At the train station, they meet Dr. Rhodes (Adrian Rawlins), who escorts them to the insanely isolated, falling-down wreck of a clearly haunted mansion, cut off from the mainland at high tide. But Eve and Jean get on with making it feel like home, while Harry looks in on them from time to time. Then one of the boys, Edward (Oaklee Pendergast), who hasn't spoken a word since a bomb killed his family, sees a malicious ghost (Leanne Best).

From here things get startlingly nasty. This is definitely not a thriller for pre-teens, like the first film. These children are in genuine peril, and begin to die in pretty ghastly ways, like a slasher movie with victims who are only 10 years old. Much of the worst violence remains off-screen, so Jean amusingly refuses to admit that there's any real problem until things really cut loose. Clever acting touches add to the drama, as Irvine and Fox provide a whiff of doomed romance, McCrory maintains her stiff upper lip just a bit longer than she should, and the kids get to create seriously creepy moments of their own.

Continue reading: The Woman in Black: Angel of Death Review

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