This sun-drenched thriller is much more than a pretty picture: it's also a slow-burning story about moral compromises that worms its way under the skin. Based on a Patricia Highsmith novel, there are clear parallels to The Talented Mr. Ripley as three characters circle around each other and all kinds of Hitchcockian subtext gurgles around them.
Set in 1962, the plot opens with Chester and Colette (Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst) on a romantic holiday in Athens, where they meet slightly too-helpful American tour guide Rydal (Oscar Isaac). He's already wooing one rich young tourist (Daisy Bevan) and soon locks eyes on Colette. But it's Chester he becomes entangled with, when a private eye (David Warshofsky) turns up trying to reclaim cash Chester stole from a client. So Rydal helps Chester and Colette flee to Crete and, while they wait for a plan to develop, Chester becomes convinced that Rydal and Colette are having an affair.
Writer-director Hossein Amini has already proven himself as a skilled writer of innuendo-filled dialogue (see Drive or The Wings of the Dove), and here he shows a remarkable eye for setting. It helps to have ace cinematographer Marcel Zyskind and composer Alberto Iglesias adding their considerable skills to the mix. The film looks utterly gorgeous, providing plenty of glaring sunlight and murky shadows in which Mortensen, Dunst and Isaac can bring their characters to vivid life. Every scene bursts with suggestiveness, as the inter-relationships between these three people shift unnervingly.
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Especially when it shows as much audacious skill as this British thriller does.
In the Cold War paranoia of 1973, there's a Russian mole in British intelligence. And the top boss Control (Hurt) has narrowed it down to four top colleagues (Firth, Jones, Hinds and Dencik). He asks faithful George Smiley (Oldman) to root out the spy, so he and Peter (Cumberbatch) begin a complex investigation that involves a discredited agent (Hardy) and a murdered operative (Strong). But the truth only seems to get more elusive the further they descend into the rabbit hole.
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Derek Luke, in a much bigger role than he is accustomed to, plays Patrick Chamusso, a supervisor at a coal-to-oil refinery in Secunda, South Africa. He's not what you would expect from an African man under apartheid; he tells his mother to turn off the rebel radio and tells the workers under him (all black) to stop talking about the current state of affairs. After an attack at the oil refinery, Patrick is brought in with his friends for questioning by Nic Vos (Tim Robbins), the head of a local police syndicate. Vos, a family man, takes it too far when he brings in Chamusso's wife (Bonnie Mbuli) and beats her to get her to confess her husband's guilt. After this event, Chamusso joins up with a resistance (terrorist) group and begins to plot a huge blow to the South African economy.
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No, Morvern Callar is a modern-day psychodrama, starring Samantha Morton (never known for picking traditional roles -- Minority Report, Sweet and Lowdown) as the titular Morvern, a Scottish girl who comes to terms with her boyfriend's suicide by simply ignoring the body that's rotting in the hall. Tasked with instructions to use the money in his bank account for a funeral and send his novel off to a publisher in London, Morvern coldly decides to hack up the body and bury it in the moors, use the money for a trip to Spain for her and her pal Lanna (Kathleen McDermott), and sends the novel to a publisher -- under her own name.
Continue reading: Morvern Callar Review
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