4 items from 2017
Even Anna Chancellor can’t rescue this dire dramedy about a woman with five days to live
Exactly zero of the jokes land in Joan Carr-Wiggin’s comedy-drama about a woman who finds out she has five days to live. Grace (Anna Chancellor) vows to finally read Middlemarch (out loud, no less) and enjoy her last few days with her teenage daughters and sweet, bumbling husband (The Vicar of Dibley’s James Fleet). Chaos ensues when her Pulitzer-prize winning ex-husband (John Hannah, doing his best Peter Capaldi impression) shows up to “win Grace back”. Yes, the exposition is that blunt.
Unfortunately, even Chancellor, so brilliant and sharp as Lix Storm in BBC2’s newsroom drama The Hour, can’t save this undignified affair, gritting her teeth through writer-director Carr-Wiggin’s cringeworthy script.
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- Simran Hans
A creak of British actors are transplanted to Canada where they have terminal cancer, an ex-lover and an awful script to contend with. No one’s finest hour
This creaky curio exiles Brits to Toronto to enact a necromantic tangle: architect Anna Chancellor finds her domestic complacency with ambulant cardigan James Fleet disrupted first by a terminal cancer diagnosis, then the reappearance of her roguish novelist ex John Hannah. Nudging the dial towards bad taste might have been interesting – it’s partly couched as a fight for sexual bragging rights, with Hannah claiming “first dibs on the last fuck”. Director Joan Carr-Wiggin plumps for bookclub cosiness, alas, leaving every sitcom set-up resembling farce without the energy. The actors strive to give it spark and emotional amplitude, but the script barely seems to understand how humans exist hour-by-hour, let alone in moments of mortal crisis.
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- Mike McCahill
"There was nothing normal about the girl. She grew into the oddest of odd balls." Samuel Goldwyn Films has released a trailer for an indie drama titled This Beautiful Fantastic, written and directed by Simon Aboud. Jessica Brown Findlay (seen in Albatross, Winter's Tale, The Riot Club, Victor Frankenstein) stars as Bella Brown, an awkward, shy young woman who dreams of writing and illustrating a successful children’s book. Described as a "contemporary fairy tale", she encounters her grumpy next door and works to save a garden most of the time. Also starring Andrew Scott, Tom Wilkinson, Jeremy Irvine, Anna Chancellor & Eileen Davies. This actually looks quite good, it reminds me a bit of Amelie. Have a look. Here's the official trailer (+ poster) for Simon Aboud's This Beautiful Fantastic, direct from YouTube: Set against the backdrop of a beautiful garden in London, Bella Brown (Jessica Brown Findlay) plays a »
- Alex Billington
There are no puppies, kittens or baby bunnies in “This Beautiful Fantastic.” That said, however, any restraint before the altar of adorableness is abandoned in writer-director Simon Aboud’s sophomore feature. Its heroine is so Amelie-like that she’s clad and coiffed like that pixie queen’s separated-at-birth English Rose twin. This winsome comedy may lack Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s high cinematic style, but it does hit the same general mark — which is to say, a sweet spot for some viewers that might induce sugar shock in others. Those seeking twee will get their fill when Samuel Goldwyn distributes the film Stateside, presumably later this year.
A foundling dumped as a babe in a banana crate — like Moses, but wackier! — on a Hyde Park orphanage stoop, Bella Brown (Jessica Brown Findlay of “Downton Abbey”) grows up “the oddest of the odd,” a misfit whose threadbare social skills and peculiar habits »
- Dennis Harvey
4 items from 2017
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