‘Mary Shelley’

mary shelleyThe extraordinary love affair between Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin and Percy Byshe Shelley and the resulting penning of Frankenstein is manna from heaven for storytelling.

But the clunky treatment by director Haifaa Al-Mansour (Wadjda, Women Without Shadows) and a cast guilty of overacting (Bel Powley – A Royal Night Out, Diary of a Teenage Girl – as Mary’s stepsister, Gail, in particular) undermines the story and the quiet performances of Elle Fanning (The Beguiled, Maleficent) and Stephen Dillane (Darkest Hour, Welcome to Sarajevo) as her father.

Engaging as a story but sadly, as a film, a misfire.

Rating: 47%

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‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer’

4AsH9jqVsmbsc3RKWj3FwK6gG8dIf you thought director Yorgos Lanthimos’ last film The Lobster was odd and more than a little confronting, wait for this, his latest truly absurdist feature.

Surgeon Colin Farrell (In Bruges, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) is forced to make an unthinkable sacrifice, the result of a mistake on the operating table. Looking for justice (or revenge), young Barry Keoghan (Dunkirk, ’71) inveigles his way into the doctor’s privileged family, where Nicole Kidman (The Hours, Lion) is more than a little suspicious.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer is magnificently and beguilingly uncomfortable, delivery of dialogue flat and emotionless (a Lanthimos trademark), pointed jet-black humour off-kilter, domestic horror and violence taken to an extreme. It’s a harrowing experience (the entire auditorium emptied in silence) yet strangely and unaccountably rewarding.

Rating: 70%

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‘Sing Street’

sing_streetDelightful, feel-good and totally endearing, the latest from John Carney (Once, Begin Again) yet again presents the good in both character and narrative (and provides a ripper of a soundtrack).

A nostalgic revisit to the 80s with a story that, whilst hardly innovative (new boy at school overcomes bullying, wins the girl and gains popularity), uses music to flesh out its tale. Newcomer Ferdia Walsh-Peelo is a convincing innocent discovering his inner Duran Duran or The Cure – and the relationship with his music mentor brother Jack Reynor (Transformers: Age of Extinction, Free Fire) adds an extra layer of oddball warmth.

Rating: 69%

‘Love & Friendship’

love-and-friendship-posterAn atypical Jane Austen in that this is a comedy of manners!

Intrigues aplenty as the recently widowed Lady Susan Vernon (a splendid Kate Beckinsale – Underworld, The Aviator) plots to nab herself (or her 17 year-old daughter) a wealthy husband. More The Importance of Being Earnest than Pride & Prejudice as wit and repartee positively sparkles with Chloe Sevigny (Boys Don’t Cry, Zodiac) the flirtatious Lady Susan’s partner in crime.

Director Walt Stillman (Metropolitan, Damsels in Distress) breathes new life into the oeuvre, although the tale is ultimately so light that Love & Friendship does pall towards the end.

Rating: 60%

‘Brooklyn’

11201971_oriBrooklyn is a classically constructed melodrama and something of a tearjerker, a real George Sirk (Imitation of Life, All That Heaven Allows) Sunday afternoon matinee.

Like its Oscar competitor, Carol, Brooklyn is set in the 1950s and transports us to a very different world with its ‘old-fashioned’ social mores and values. Exploring love and a sense of home, it’s a universal story of belonging.

Saoirse Ronan (Atonement, The Lovely Bones) brings an elegant poise to Eilis, torn between family in Ireland and a new life (and love) in New York. And with support from the likes of Jim Broadbent, Julie Waters, Jessica Pare and Fiona Glascott, the heartfelt love triangle between Eilis , Italian boy Tony (the unrecognisable Emory Cohen from The Place Beyond the Pines) and Jim Farrell (Domhnall Gleeson – Ex-Machina, The Revenant) builds to its believable climax.

Rating: 67%

 

‘The Lobster’

colin-farrell-in-the-lobsterAbsurd comedy – that, in spite of its strange premise, is original and, at times, startlingly funny!

Acclaimed, award-winning Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos (Alps, Dog Tooth) makes his English-language debut with this commentary on relationships, love – even  ingrained social norms of ‘coupledom’ and social control.

Choosing to turn into a lobster rather than the more common dog should he not find love in 45 days sets Colin Farrell (In Bruges, Horrible Bosses) apart from the rest. But then he does not have a shared characteristic that leads to love, such as frequent nose bleeds (Ben Whishaw – Skyfall, Perfume – and Jessica Barden).

Flat, deadpan delivery and limited emotional range adds to the disconcerting oddness of The Lobster.

Rating: 71%