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46 reviews in total 
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A cartoon night out., 15 May 2016

I understand that there is a market for cutesy, escapist films about the imaginary past. Most of us film lovers also appreciate that you adjust and accept the style of film as it begins, however:

Even accounting for these things, this is really awful. The story is so wonderful in and of itself there was a genuine opportunity here to make an earthy, human film about not only Royalty but also the exhilaration felt in London (where the film is set) by people of all backgrounds.

Instead of a moving and witty testament to a remarkable moment and two young princesses who were allowed to rub shoulders with the 'masses' for one night, we get a thoroughly cartoon-ish version of both Londoners and the Royal family. One dimensional characters abound here.

Lazy and a waste of talent and time.

Do not bother, 12 December 2015

I stumbled on this film one day and for about thirty minutes was completely spell bound at just how awful it really was. Serious reviewers have made much of the bad wigs - which should tell you everything you need to know! If you are in the right frame of mind you will belly laugh, which seems a very sad state of affairs when you consider this is supposed to be about a young woman who died much too young.

There is one particular scene which is, frankly, bonkers. A better treatment would be put together by a fifteen year old film student.

Look away ladies and gentlemen - nothing to see here.

Mesmerisingly Awful, 24 July 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Usually, when I watch a film, when it is clearly not my cup of tea, I switch off. The only reason this film gets a three out of ten rating is because, it truly is, mesmerizingly awful. You won't be able to look away, because: 1. There are some seriously good actors here, Tim Roth and Derek Jacobi, Geraldine Summerville, Robert Lyndsay and Nicole Kidman. So watching them all doing their best as it all goes from bad to worse is like watching a car crash. It must have looked so much more compelling in the script yes? 2. The half hearted attempt to make the film as a homage to films that Grace Kelly starred in. (See the nod and the wink when Nicole's Grace drives down the hill - 'To Catch a Thief') There is also the film stock used which is also reminiscent at particular moments of 1950s films. Also, the over wrought music score.

3. By the final penultimate scene when the character 'Grace' (sorry, but it just seems so rude to refer to this creation as Grace Kelly) makes a frankly mawkish and very average will be dumbstruck.......clearly, we, as the audience, are being poked and nudged to 'feel' great emotion over this moment, as if 'Grace' is making a speech on a par with Martin Luther King's 'I have a dream' speech! Oh dear oh dear.

4. The entire narrative premise is dodgy - no matter how the script tries to hide it, this is basically a tale of a very wealthy principality, a tax haven no less, 'fighting the evil Republic' so they can maintain that position.

It is one of those films where you know you are supposed to be cheer leading for the main character, but it all comes across - to me anyway - as extremely forced. Having watched a few documentaries over the years about Grace Kelly, she sounds like a complex, down to earth woman, not the wispy character we see here.

Make your own mind up ladies and gentlemen, do give it a go, because as I say, it is mesmerizing, just not in the way the film makers hoped.

4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Emperor's New Clothes?, 1 February 2015

I have just switched off The Wolf of Wall Street in.....well, shock frankly. After persevering for quite some time, because this is a film directed by Martin Scorcese for goodness sake! So felt it just had to get better any minute NOW.

Unfortunately, it did not. Flabby and self indulgent. This required an excellent editor to step up and shout over the ego's: 'No really fellas......that just goes on and on and on.....keep it sharp!' Just shocked at how appalling this actually is. If this was a couple of guys just out of film school, would the critics have raved about it? Would it get nominated for Awards?

More evidence of the ridiculousness of big award nights.

I have read the reviews here of people who liked this film, and all respect to you. Everything is perception is it not? Where they see 'innovation' I see self indulgence and lack of editorial discipline. See what you think.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Remarkable piece of social history, 24 September 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I have just been reading the other reviews here - and like so many other viewers clearly were, I too was moved deeply by this excellent and important piece of television. Important? Well yes, because

This is a piece of period drama which manages to somehow capture the pace of life in a small village during the time frame. Every character is richly realised, from the appalling (the 'shrink') to the ambiguous (the ex -Detective with the war injury).

The central family, as are all of the working people here, are portrayed with respect and humanity, whilst not avoiding the weaknesses of individuals. The drunk husband and father for example. One of my favourite scenes was of the women of the village gossiping in the public baths - perfectly realised.

If you want to see a fresh perspective on the commemorations for World War One - please see this. The final episode, for me, is a poignant reminder of just how much the commemoration of all the dead was not a 'given', but an emotionally powerful battle as to the nature of that commemoration. When Maxine Peake's character stands up and argues that the one moment every year to 'remember' is just another way for those in power to control the way we remember.......welling up just thinking of it actually. Similarly, as a response to Downton Abbey and the 'golden days before the first war', she also states it was not so golden for most people. I know there are many other reviewers here who felt as strongly affected by this as myself.

Trust us - it might be a slower pace than other television, but sit down, switch off the phone and allow this programme to wash - first over you - and then right into you. It will steal your heart and make you reflect, not just on the past, but on the present.

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Robert Redford, quietly, makes another gem of a film., 28 May 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is an excellent film in my estimation.

All of the acting is first class, there is no weak link letting the side down here. All the more remarkable when it is considered that many of the cast are speaking in accents not their own. I am not an North American, but familiar with the accents from numerous films, television programmes and to me, they were faultless. It would be unfair of me to pick any performance out for special mention, they are all perfect.

As a history film / television production / documentary nerd, this does what a retelling of history has the power to do when an intelligent film maker and scriptwriter join forces. It brings something new and moving to an event that you think you already know all about. For example, there can be few people out there who do not know about the assassination of President Lincoln. What really 'got' me at the beginning of the film was the genuine horror I felt watching this event unfold on the screen. The relaxed theatre goers, some sitting watching the production, some gathered in the bar area, clearly happy and enjoying a night out. No doubt with extra joy at the final cessation of the bloodshed of the Civil War.

What else it brings, is no less important in a film about the past. It has direct and powerful reverberations of our present. It was hard to watch the frustration of James McAvoy's character as it slowly dawns on him that 'revenge' and 'anger' does indeed either destroy or weaken the Law and Constitutional Rights of individuals. As the film reveals slowly, we are all diminished when the Rights of individuals are curtailed. I kept thinking about Guantanamo Bay and the slow erosion of individual freedom post September 11th. In this way, regardless of your point of view, the film is very much a meditation on the past and the wars and trials of the past ten or so years.

The sheer brutality of the death penalty is brought home to the viewer, every bit as poignantly as the brutal murder of President Lincoln. It begs questions.

When the final bits of information come up on the screen, the fact that John Surat, tried in a Civil Court (not Military like his mother, Mary) after the initial shock of the President's murder is over, is released after there not being 'sufficient evidence' - it says so much about the danger to individuals when passions are high and people are baying for revenge, rather than justice.

If you enjoy a well acted, thought provoking film, I highly recommend it.

5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Deeply moving., 3 March 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As I have confessed before, do have a bit of a 'thing' for UK police dramas - like any little genre in which we become immersed, some are okay, some absolutely awful - and then something like this: VERY VERY GOOD INDEED.


As other reviewers here have pointed out, this is the true story of five young women who were first reported as 'missing' and then found murdered. They also happened to be heroin addicts and prostitutes.

They also happened to be much loved daughters, sisters and friends.

Over the past twenty years there have been hundreds, perhaps thousands of films and television programmes made that use the death of women (and it is usually women) as the central foci for a narrative. The camera probes in the obligatory 'on the slab' Forensic Post Mortum - where the 'body' becomes distant, a silent receptacle for the rest of the cast to gravitate.

This television programme deserves 10 out of 10 for resolutely refusing to transform a serial killer narrative into the same old pattern.

We (the viewer) is never EVER allowed to forget that these young women are suffering heroin addiction, rather than some 'life style' choice, rather than some 'dim witted' woman who really should know better. It is explained to us - refusing to let us distance ourselves from the victims.

....and there are plenty of victims here. The grief and stress of the young women trying desperately to change their lives ('I want to stop'), plus the grief and stress of the families who love them. ('She's speaking in that silly accent again.') These are not stupid people, but people caught up in a kind of hell. The acting is uniformly excellent, some of the scenes are so subtle and believable.

This is the first time that a programme dealing with this subject has reduced me to tears. It made me think - long and hard - about my obsession with police drama.

Deeply moving, revealing and a complete subversion of stereotypes of 'working girls' and addiction.

Next time you hear a news report describe a murder victim as a 'prostitute' - call the station and complain. The murder victim is a woman.

Someone's daughter.

8 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
The first few seasons are the best, 4 February 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If you are wondering whether or not to give this a go, then my advice is to always make sure the character of Pat North is in the Cast. Excellent, well rounded character who proves a brilliant foil for (at times) nasty Mike Walker.

While I understand that in 'real life' police are not all good or all bad for that matter, did we really need the appallingly two dimensional - and thoroughly unlikeable - Roisin Connor?


A genuine low point in La Plante's characterisation work, this woman is so awful you want to punch her.......or the script writers. Not believable at all. As the Seasons go on, her character turns more and more into a Panto Villain Cop, if you can imagine this nightmarish vision.

.....and did we really need yet another nasty Irish woman stereotype?

Again: NO.

This is a good strong entertaining English cop drama if you like the genre (and I do), but the Pat North years were definitely the best. Those would be a 9 out of 10. Wonderful stuff.

The Thaw (2009)
5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Do not waste your time, 3 February 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I did persevere for 20 minutes, then just could not stand any more.....

1. Shockingly bad dialogue

2. Cliché upon cliché upon - yep - more cliché. Stroppy teenage daughter, Val Kilmer doing a 'Val Kilmer' ie. Sleepwalking through this role - not that you can blame him. I would need strong sedatives indeed to get through this.

3. I disagree with the reviewer here who thought this was 'left wing' - oh contrare! This is a right wing depiction of the Environmental movement, why else would these people be depicted as such complete eejits? The ideology is in the representation.

Mysteries of film fame Number 1: What precisely happens to some actors? Yes, I know Val Kilmer was never a Robert De Niro, but he was okay wasn't he? Suddenly, his name on the Cast list connotes an instant warning in my brain: 'Ooer - this might be very bad indeed....' and he never disappoints. His ex - wife Joanna Walley is the same. See her name on the Cast list? Probably it is not too good.

Did they have some hard partying years in the later 80s / 90s when their decision making skills went amiss? Did they share a Manager who couldn't read a script? Did they stop caring?

Whatever the answers to this pressing question, I can assure you that any time wasted watching this rubbish you will not get back.

That bad? Sadly yes.

Excellent television., 10 January 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Hfk from Oklohoma, another contributor here, describes seeing this the first time it aired and being a bit underwhelmed, but then seeing it again was really impressed.

I totally agree with this comment!

Have just finished watching it and feel compelled to write a review to encourage anyone to have a look at this, because:

1. Like all first class television, the Prime Suspect series in general picks up on contemporary themes in culture and society and holds them up for us to see them closer. This final Prime Suspect does this so beautifully it will prove a rich source of information for future social historians. When we first meet Jane Tennyson she is a woman up against ingrained sexism in the Police Force, about 40 years old. When this was made (about 1991), it picked up on the generation of women who chose a career over the more traditional life map of marriage and children. Fast forward to 2006 and the ideology of the programme seems to have shifted. The writers almost appear to be punishing the character at times for pursuing a career.

Also, the wonderful interrogation of teenage life in London. People will look back and laugh at the 'innit' speech of the kids here. Also, the over the top excessive use of the new technology: mobile telephones and constant texting. All excellently held up for us to ourselves and our world at the time.

2. The acting is just outstanding. Even the bit parts are spot on here. Helen Mirren's performance here, well, put it this way, several times I muttered: 'What a brave performance' - just incredible. At a time where even young actors are getting botox and 'fillers' and starving themselves into submission, Mirren stares down the camera - and 'stares down' a film and television celebrity culture which insists on a cartoonish perfection. Remarkable.

3. The emotional fall out as this programme goes on is almost unbearable to watch at times. You empathise with these fallible human beings. It says a great deal for the writing that no one here is completely innocent or guilty. It says even more that you care so deeply about them all. Even the Headmaster. It would have been so easy to make him a nasty piece of work wouldn't it? He makes a terrible error of judgement.

4. Which brings me to: 'The Final Act' - the very title holds connotations of a Shakespearian Tragedy......and this final act is a Tragedy. Literally. (A tragic figure for example is brought undone by the fatal flaw in their character) Tennyson and Otley: alcoholism. The Headmaster, a desire to escape his middle aged suburban responsibilities and falling for a student.

5. The thematic threads which link Jane's fondness for Penny and the Headmaster's infatuation for Sallie are beautifully realised. When Penny breaks into Jane's father's house late in the piece and mirrors the earlier scene of a drunk Jane dancing with her police hat on, I just marvelled at it all to be honest. Jane and the Headmaster both look to extreme youth to try and reclaim their own lost, carefree youth.

6. Finally, when so many television programmes constantly show people 'having a relaxing glass of wine' to 'unwind' from the stresses of their job, how refreshing to see alcohol in it's altogether more nasty guise. That hangover at the beginning - I could feel that nausea.

Oh......loved the intertextual reference to Helen Mirren playing The Queen (Elizabeth 2), when she quips: 'Don't call me Ma'am. I'm not the Queen.'

Give it another go if you only saw it in 2006. You will very likely (like a couple of us here) be shocked at just how emotionally wrenching this is to watch.

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