At just 27 years old, Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan has an almost overwhelming set of accolades alongside his name. All six of his feature films have won major awards, including this one, which like several others tackles a dysfunctional family with style, humour and unflinching nastiness. This one also features a stellar cast at the top of their game, and a situation that's almost painfully easy to identify with.
It opens as Louis (Gaspard Ulliel) arrives at his rural family home for the first time in 12 years to tell his family that he's dying. But he finds it difficult to get the words out. His mother Martine (Nathalie Baye) is chirpy and excited, his older brother Antoine (Vincent Cassel) challenges everything everyone says, and their younger sister Suzanne (Lea Seydoux) is curious to learn more about this brother she never really knew. And then there's Antoine's eerily patient wife Catherine (Marion Cotillard), who quietly observes everything until she understands what Louis is struggling to tell everyone, long before he can say it out loud.
Yes, this is an exploration of how awkward it is to go home again, falling back into old patterns of behaviour that make it very difficult to be yourself and say what needs to be said. And also how hard it is to understand the experiences and lifestyle of people we were once very close to who have moved on. The film is based on a play by Jean-Luc Lagarce, which is apparent in its closed-in location and the series of pointed conversations. And Dolan opens this out cleverly, using visually stunning camerawork that continually isolates the characters' inner thoughts and feelings in contrast to their outer actions. In other words, it's immediately clear why Louis left these people behind.
Continue reading: It's Only The End Of The World Review
Vincent Cassel - 69th Cannes Film Festival - 'It's Only The End Of The World (Juste La Fin Du Monde)' - Photocall at Palais de Festivals, Cannes Film Festival - Cannes, France - Thursday 19th May 2016
A meaty, fascinating story is splintered into three plot strands that battle for the viewer's attention, so while the film is never boring, it's also oddly uninvolving. Fortunately, it has an excellent cast and is shot with skill and a relentless intensity to feel like a big, epic-style dramatic thriller with heavy political overtones.
After a scene-setting prologue, the story starts in 1953 Moscow, where Leo (Tom Hardy) is a war hero now working in the military police, purging the city of its spies. Or at least its suspected spies. In the Soviet socialist utopia, crime officially doesn't exist, but Leo finds it difficult to tell his best pal Alexei (Fares Fares) that his 8-year-old son was killed in a train accident when he was so clearly tortured and murdered. Ordered by his boss (Vincent Cassel) to let it go, and menaced by his rival colleague Vasili (Joel Kinnaman), Leo continues investigating, resulting in a reprimand that sees Leo and his wife Raisa (Noomi Rapace) relocated to the the grim industrial city of Volsk. But when another young boy's body appears here, Leo gets his new boss (Gary Oldman) to see the connection.
There are at least three main plots in this film, and the filmmakers oddly never allow one to become the central strand. There's the mystery involving this brutal, unhinged serial killer (Paddy Considine) stalking boys along the railway. There's the thriller about Leo being brutally taunted by Vasili, who has a thing for Raisa and is trying to crush them for good. But the only emotionally engaging strand is Leo and Raisa's complex marriage relationship, which takes a couple of unexpected turns. Along the way, there are several action sequences shot with shaky cameras and edited so they're impossible to follow. And there's a sense that the film also wants to be a grandiose Russian epic with its expansive cinematography and big orchestral score.
Continue reading: Child 44 Review
Danny Boyle is obviously having a ball with this thriller, deploying every cinematic trick he can think of to throw the audience off the track. But sometimes too much of a good thing is annoying. And while this film holds our interest, it also reveals early on that we simply can't trust anything we see on-screen. So while it's expertly shot and edited, and the actors make the most of their shifty characters, it's not easy to just sit back and enjoy the show.
McAvoy stars as Simon, an auctioneer presiding over the sale of a £30 million Goya painting, which promptly goes missing after an elaborate heist. Simon suffers a head injury in the assault, and can't remember anything, which is a problem when it turns out that he was working with criminal mastermind Franck (Cassel). Now Franck and his goons (Sapani, Cross and Sheikh) want to know where the painting is, so they enlist hypnotherapist Elizabeth (Dawson) to help Simon recover his memory using a series of unconventional methods. But she wants her share of the cash.
Yes, the further they travel into Simon's mind, the stranger things get. McAvoy has little to do here but look dazed in between moments of lucidity that generally spark something horribly violent. Opposite his understated performance, Cassel can hardly help but be a lot flashier as a menacing charmer. And Dawson has a fierce presence as a woman who quickly takes control of every situation she's in. Although Dawson also has to contend with a couple of leery nude scenes that go further than what was strictly necessary.
Continue reading: Trance Review
Simon is a successful auctioneer of fine art who gets tracked down by a ruthless gang of organised criminals after an extremely valuable painting seen at one auction gets lost. He is subject to brutal torture as they fruitlessly try to uncover the artwork and he finds himself teaming up with the professional hypnotherapist Elizabeth to access the information in his brain that he can't quite reach. His life depends on him making the right choice between forcing himself to remember and letting himself forget the location of the painting but soon he finds that reality, suggestion and general delusions are becoming distorted putting more than just his life at stake, but also his sanity.
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When he was a baby, Ambrosio was raised by Capucin monks in a Spanish monastery. He becomes a devout monk and, as an adult, his sermons are among the most popular in the country, if not the most popular. However, most of his fellow monks are jealous of Ambrosio's success.
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In 1904 Zurich, Jung (Fassbender) tests Freud's theoretical "talking cure" on manic patient Sabina (Knightley). And it works, revealing Sabina's own skills as a potential shrink. Two years later, Jung travels to Vienna to meet Freud (Mortensen), and they start a working friendship. But when Freud refers an outspoken patient (Cassel), Jung starts to question his morality. As a result, he starts an affair with Sabina, which is much hotter than his comfortable marriage to Emma (Gadon). But this causes him to question Freud's theories, leading to a clash of the titans.
Continue reading: A Dangerous Method Review
Set in Vienna before the start of World War One, Carl Jung, a student of Sigmund Freud, is employing some of Freud's techniques on psychoanalysis to treat a patient at the Burgh"lzli Mental Hospital, a beautiful Russian woman called Sabina Spielrein, who has repressed paternal issues.
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In 1980s Brazil, struggling author Mathias (Cassel) is on a beach holiday with his wife Clarice (Bloch) and their three children. The eldest, 14-year-old Filipa (Neiva), isn't quite aware of the tension between her parents, so when she discovers that her beloved dad is having an affair with an American woman (Belle), she's furious. She of course feels much more grown-up than she is. And while trying to figure out how to confront her father, she starts flirting with Artur (Passi), who clearly loves her, and other men too.
Continue reading: Adrift [a Deriva] Review
Jan Kounen, the Dutch cause celebre responsible for the hyperactive cult film Dobermann, tackles the epic story of Blueberry with a careful, almost blissed out style - much to the dismay of fans of his earlier work. Blueberry is a meditative work, a somnambulist's ramble through western history and psychedelica. The film is slowly paced but crescendos in a special effects blowout, a literal celluloid peyote trip, which would make Alejandro Jodorowsky jump with joy. (That isn't a random aside, Blueberry is as close an homage to Jodorowsky's El Topo as a big budget western can get.)
Continue reading: Blueberry Review
In "The Reckoning," a troupe of 14th century traveling actors abandon their standard Bible-story fare while visiting a small fiefdom in order to reenact the recent murder of a local boy, and discover in the process that the official version of events is a cover-up for something far more disconcerting.
Having an outsiders' perspective, the players can sense something amiss with the local Church-based justice, and one of their number -- himself a disgraced priest on the run played by Paul Bettany -- feels compelled to investigate. A mute, wild-woman healer (and thus a suspected witch) is scheduled to hang for the crime, but what he discovers leads the actors to risk their lives to expose the truth by presenting a play based on the facts.
Unfortunately, writer Mark Mills (who adapted Barry Unsworth's novel "Morality Play") and director Paul McGuigan utterly fail to address one fundamental problem with their story: What makes them think the people of this village would pay to see the still-fresh horror of a child's brutal murder fictionalized for them like some Middle-Ages Movie of the Week?
Continue reading: The Reckoning Review
Date of birth
23rd November, 1966
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