British director Andrew Douglas (2005's Amityville Horror remake) takes a clever look at youthful naivete in this strikingly inventive thriller, which is based on a true story. Its focussed perspective lets us see the events unfold as the main character might, and watching him misinterpret everything is seriously unsettling.
That character is the cool North London teen Mark (Blackley), who avoids his annoying parents (Womack and Delamere) by hiding in his room while chatting online to local teen Rachel (Winstone). She has gone into witness protection because of her brutish boyfriend (Johnston), and she asks Mark to look out for her nerdy little brother John (Regbo), who's being bullied in school. As they hang out together, Mark and John strike up a friendship. But when Rachel disappears, Mark begins chatting online to an MI5 agent (White) who convinces him that he needs to take violent action to save lives at school.
Right from the start, we suspect that something is up with the people Mark meets in internet chatrooms. But we also understand why he doesn't question anything: the setting is 2003, rife with still-gurgling paranoia after 9/11 and Columbine. Also, the film intercuts Mark's story with the aftermath of his actions, as he's interviewed by a tenacious detective (Downton Abbey's Froggatt). So we know that we are seeing the people he's chatting to through his mind's eye, which is why director Douglas makes the eerie decision to show them talking to their computers rather than just typing. We question whether they're real, but Mark never does.
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James (Phillips) is a geeky misfit who has a sign above his head saying "loser". Literally. After his friend Ian (Grant) commits suicide, he receives a message from him that challenges him to learn how to talk to women. His friends (Leonidas and Grezo) encourage him to try, starting with an awkward chat at Ian's funeral with his school crush Hannah (Atkinson). He then starts a mentorship with cocky motivational speaker Ampersand (Conway), a disciple of womanising writer guru Zeus (Kemp). But this will require changing almost everything about himself.
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"She" (Joan Allen) is a London-based scientist (born in Belfast, raised in America) whose open marriage to her stoic, stuffy husband (Sam Neill) is dying a slow, painful death. "He" (Simon Abkarian) is a cook from Beirut, who meets her at a party, beginning a torrid affair that puts both on a physical and emotional trek taking them to Beirut, Belfast, New York, and a groovy Cuba.
Continue reading: Yes Review
However her latest film, "Yes," is a failed experiment.Joan Allen plays an Irish-born woman stuck in a loveless, childless marriageto a philandering husband (Sam Neill). She meets a Lebanese cook (SimonAbkarian) who was once a surgeon in Beirut, and begins a love affair. Writtenentirely in verse, "Yes" requires the actors to suffer throughlong passages of blathering talk, and the scenes routinely dry out longbefore they end.
Potter attempts to add layers to the film by hinting atpolitical paranoia and showing scenes through surveillance cameras, butthe verse angle nullifies these attempts. The superb Allen is capable ofextremes: from icy control to dropping her emotional guard, yet she cannotmake this film's rhythms work.
Shirley Henderson, playing a maid who observes the actionand breaks the fourth wall by speaking directly to the camera, shows justhow the film might have played. With her silky, slithering delivery, sheplays with the words like a snake might toy with a mouse.
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