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
Reese Witherspoon gives a beautifully stripped-back performance in this epic journey based on the memoir by Cheryl Strayed. The title has a double meaning, as it follows this wild child through the Wild West in a quest to find her centre. This metaphor is as obvious as Cheryl's badly over-loaded backpack, but while the messages are unmistakable the filmmaking and acting are raw and natural. And the settings are spectacular.
After a chaotic patch of wanton living, seen in flashback, Cheryl (Witherspoon) sets off to hike a thousand miles along the Pacific Crest Trail, from Mexico to Canada. She has no idea what she's doing, but bravely goes for it, overcoming feelings of loneliness before getting to know some fellow hikers along the trail as she traverses deserts, mountains and forests amid sunshine, rain and snow. All of this gives her a chance to make sense of a variety of memories involving her mother (Laura Dern), her ex-husband (Thomas Sadoski), her younger brother (Keene McRae) and her best friend (Gaby Hoffmann). And there are plenty of issues that need to be sorted out.
The film is structured in a way that lets us learn about Cheryl's past gradually. Important facts and events are dribbled in throughout the hike, shaping Cheryl's physical odyssey into a journey of self-discovery, which is more than a little gimmicky. Especially when "telling" quotes are printed right across the screen. Thankfully, Nick Hornby's script and Jean-Marc Vallee's direction never moralise about her history of promiscuity and drug abuse. These things are not the problem: they are symptoms of what's wrong with Cheryl. And this gives the film a maturity lacking in most Hollywood-studio films that are happy to find easy explanations and solutions.
Continue reading: Wild Review
Nick Hornby - Photographs of a variety of stars as they arrived for the Premiere of the biographical drama 'Wild' at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater at AMPAS in Beverly Hills, California, United States - Thursday 20th November 2014
Check out the trailer for the black comedy below
A Long Way Down hits cinemas on March 21st
The four unlikely friends meet when attempting to commit suicide on top of a tall building on New Year’s Eve.
Continue reading: 'A Long Way Down' - Four Suicidal Strangers Find Solace [Trailer]
It's not a combination anyone ever predicted, but Reese Witherspoon will star in and produce Wild, an adaptation of Cheryl Strayed's memoir written by Nick Horny.
"Nick's innate blend of humanity and humour are a perfect match for Cheryl's raw emotional memoir," noted Witherspoon according to The Sun. "I look forward to collaborating with both of these talented writers to create a film full of honesty, adventure and self- discovery." Nick seems equally excited about working together, saying in a statement: "I loved Cheryl Strayed's memoir. It's moving, funny, painful and brave, and the moment I'd finished it I wanted someone to let me have a go at adapting it, because it was clear to me that it could make a wonderful movie." He added, "I'm thrilled to be given the chance; the fact that this chance was given to me by Reese Witherspoon, a great actress who feels exactly the same way about the book as I do, makes this project all the more exciting."
Wild explores the American author's struggle to cope after her mother's death and the breakdown of her marriage as she embarks on a challenging 1,100-mile hike along the Pacific coast to work through her issues. Hornby, of course, is famous for penning About A Boy - the book that made it's way onto the big screen with great success - but he's now trying his hand at writing directly for the screen.
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