Reviews

289 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
Yesterday (III) (2019)
8/10
Even obliterated, the Beatles are the real stars
4 July 2019
Himesh Patel (whom we know in the UK from EastEnders) acts and sings his way persuasively through the slightly klutzy central role. Ed Sheeran almost steals the show, playing himself (a natural klutz!) in a charming send-up. Danny Boyle has directed this at a snappy pace, but the most visible contribution is clearly Richard Curtis's script, with his trademark mismatched love-story. Other erasures from human memory caused by the power-cut are fed to us at clumsy intervals - did CocaCola pay for product DIS-placement, I wondered? And the central mystery - what has actually happened to the Beatles? - is neatly addressed. I particularly liked the late appearance of two other people who know that Jack is a musical thief.

The other most visible contribution is the Beatles' back-list - we are constantly reminded just how powerfully their songs are engrained in our consciousness. There may well be Sing-Along screenings of this next year.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Rocketman (2019)
8/10
Elton: the Plain Unvarnished Truth. As if!!
7 June 2019
Hot on the heels of Rami Malek's Oscar-winning turn as Freddie Mercury, we have Taron Egerton going into camp hyperdrive as Elton John in this musical extravaganza charting the rise to superstardom of young Reggie Dwight from Pinner in suburban northwest London. This is not exactly the "plain unvarnished truth", since once his career took off Elton didn't really do Plain or Unvarnished.

Egerton does a great job capturing Elton's growly vocal style and his weird combination of shyness and monstrous egotism. It's a performance that rivals Michael Douglas's take on Liberace, who is briefly glimpsed on Elton's gran's telly and whom he clearly drew on for inspiration. As in CANDELABRA, the script doesn't hesitate to show the star's battle with homosexuality. Elton has a crush on Bernie Taupin (nicely played by Jamie Bell) who isn't gay but loves Elton and cherishes their Stan-and-Ollie/Eric-and-Ernie partnership. Elton has a stormy relationship with his second manager John Reid (Richard Maddon - fantasy-fulfilling to see him playing gay!). His happy-ever-after with David Furnish comes later than this timeframe.

The other movie I was reminded of was MOULIN ROUGE in the way some of the songs are not just performed but acted into scenes that carry the story forward. Bell and Maddon both get to sing.

Elton's addictions to booze, drugs and sexual excess (and shopping!) are not skated over, just as they weren't in the Liberace movie. ROCKETMAN is a story with a message about the dangers that fame brings with it. At another level it's simply a great musical biopic.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Red Joan (2018)
6/10
From M to OAP
24 April 2019
Warning: Spoilers
"The spy who came in from the Co-op" is how one British tabloid described the real-life pensioner on whom the Judi Dench character in this movie is based.

I was reminded a bit of Alan Bennett's play on Sir Anthony Blunt, who was finally exposed as the "Fourth Man" in the Cambridge spy ring after years of having his treachery hidden to avoid embarrassing the Establishment. In scenes at Buckingham Palace (Prunella Scales was terrific as HMQ) duplicity was given a dark comic edge. Alas, Mr Bennett didn't script RED JOAN, which could have done with a touch of humour.

It's sort of droll to see Judi Dench moving from playing 007's boss M to the shabbier side of espionage, Dench and Cookson are both excellent, but the zigzagging between Then and Now becomes slightly tiresome, and Joan's attempts to justify her betrayal didn't wash with me. Neither did Blunt's, but Alan Bennett's script allowed the viewer to relish his downfall, which we aren't invited to in Joan's case. We are reminded that the aptly acronymed MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) somehow prevented nuclear launches throughout the Cold War era, but, IMHO, a traitor is still a traitor.
4 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
A slow ramble to the gold rush
20 April 2019
A Western that isn't a Western (no cowboys or Indians), the weirdly titled SISTERS BROTHERS is more than a little reminiscent of Clint Eastwood's Oscar-winning UNFORGIVEN (1992) or, further back, Robert Altman's McCABE AND MRS MILLER (1971).

The rambling story only settles down when we get to the goldfields and are introduced to a bizarre twist on the science of prospecting. There's a lot of mumbling and squabbling in the script. Direction and cinematography are uneven: too many gloomy night scenes - and some of the daytime shoots are also very grainy. The last half hour is extremely grim. All four lead performances are rock solid, but none of these characters is particularly likeable, which makes this an Interesting rather than an Engaging experience. It's one of those movies which will probably seem better on a second or third viewing.
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Pet Sematary (2019)
5/10
Resurrection shuffle
10 April 2019
Nice poster. Shame about the movie. Another pointless remake. This doesn't add anything to the 1989 version apart from superior special effects courtesy of advances in CGI.

Only minor changes to the story. A family move from the city to the outskirts of a New England village where there's a spooky outcrop in the woods beyond what the local kids have mislabelled as the "Pet Sematary". Trucks thundering past their new house on Day One signal with no subtlety disasters that are to come.

There are more scares before the "resurrection shuffle" than after. The second Second Coming is totally OTT and seems to be sourced from the CHUCKY movies rather than Stephen King's original novel. I'm guessing Mr King was inspired by the 1902 story THE MONKEY's PAW (by W.W.Jacobs) which was somehow more spooky because they didn't open the door when 'he' came back. Not enough for today's grossed-out audience, of course.

John Lithgow is clearly slumming here as the old-timer neighbour who sets the drama in motion but he's the best thing in this. Except maybe the CGI cat.
3 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
Wrestling's come a long way !
5 April 2019
There's a spate of 'Based on a true story' movies this spring. STAN & OLLIE is the best so far. FIGHJTING WITH MY FAMILY, a comedy-drama biopic, is in the Not-as-good-as league, along with FISHERMAN'S FRIENDS.

Soraya/Paige's story is somewhat predictable: will she make it to the giant stadium for a title bout at "Wrestlemania"?. Zak's story is a lot more involving, as he struggles to settle for broken dreams.

I didn't find this grabbed me emotionally in the way that Clint Eastwood's MILLION DOLLAR BABY did but it's an agreeable movie, with believable performances all round, crisply scripted and pacily directed by Stephen Merchant. Dwayne Johnson, who they tell us sold the story to the studio money men, seems immensely likeable. The wrestling scenes are a joy to watch - so much more spectacular than what we used to see on black-and-white TV screens when I was the age of Paige and Zak!
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
A MARIGOLD-style crowd-pleaser
23 March 2019
If you liked THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY, you'll be inclined to like this; it will help if you're a fan of sea shanties.

Despite its slimline script, FISHERMAN'S FRIENDS has a lot of charm. We're in POLDARK territory, so the scenery is a guaranteed hit, and the fishermen are a likeable (mixed) bunch. All in all, there's a healthy dollop of the feel-good factor that made THE FULL MONTY and the MARIGOLD HOTEL movies such crowd-pleasers.
8 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
A gay 'bromance'?
27 February 2019
We're used to watching Melissa McCarthy in loud potty-mouthed comedies. Here she's in a lower key - still foul-mouthed - as Lee Israel, a lesbian New York writer of celebrity biographies whose sales are not keeping up with the rent or her whisky consumption. She hits on the idea of forging letters from famous dead authors and selling them to collectors of literary memorabilia. The money rolls in, and so does a down-on-his-luck near-neighbour Jake, also gay and also a big boozer. They drink together - rather a lot - and a friendship is 'forged'.

This is a sort of gay 'bromance'. Not a lot happens and there are no big surprises, but as a character study it works perfectly. The two stars are on winning form (or not, as it turned out) - Grant has never been better - and the script strikes exactly the right balance between comedy and drama. It's a lot like repertory theatre and leaves you wanting to applaud the actors. Another small 'gem' this winter, like STAN & OLLIE.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Boy Erased (2018)
7/10
The cure for homosexuality
15 February 2019
Our hero's Gay Conversion Program consists of humiliating public confessions, aggressive shouting from a convertee turned 'converter' and being thumped with Bibles by others in the group - a second definition of Bible-bashing which could only have come from American (or perhaps African) fundamentalist Christians. Homosexuality is a form of demonic possession which must be exorcised. In this area Southern Baptists and Ugandan bishops sing from the same hymnbook as Shia ayatollahs and Sunni clerics (not all of them in distant deserts)

This is not an easy movie to sit through. It frequently stretches credulity, although - the end credits remind us - over 700,000 young Americans have been submitted to procedures like this. Russell Crowe and (especially) Nicole Kidman are very believable as the parents conflicted between parental love and what they see as a violation of God's holy purposes. Lucas Hedges has given some fine performances to date and he works hard at this role, but - was it him or the script? - to me he didn't seem quite gay enough or tormented enough. An intrusive score of bland pop ballads quickly went from ironical to tiresome. If BOY ERASED didn't quite live up to its rave reviews, it did fire me with righteous - and even unrighteous - anger. Mission accomplished.
1 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Stan & Ollie (2018)
9/10
Wears its heart on its sleeve
2 February 2019
Coogan and Reilly are pitch-perfect as the two old hams; no-one could have played them better. Shirley Henderson and Nina Arlanda are terrific as their wives: Lucille (Henderson) watches Ollie's drinking like a hawk; Ida (Arlanda) loves to talk about the acting career she never really had before marrying Stan. There could almost be another movie about the lives of the wives.

Laurel and Hardy bicker like the old married couple they sort of are; they come close to falling out. Their act - especially the dance routines - was quite camp for its time, but there's nothing here to suggest a gay relationship (something of a relief after this year's early crop of lesbian rustling under the bedcovers!).

STAN & OLLIE wears its heart on its sleeve - an affectionate tribute, beautifully written, splendidly directed and magnificently played, to a comedy duo who were deservedly loved by millions for a few decades in the mid-twentieth century. A joy from start to finish.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Colette (I) (2018)
7/10
Gay ladies in gay Paree
25 January 2019
The CLAUDINE novels were the FIFTY SHADES of their day (Paris in the early 1900s). Dramatising Colette's battle to be credited, against her husband's wishes, as the author of the books, the new movie also dramatises their marriage, how freely I'm not sure. Colette (Keira Knightley) is initially happy with her husband (Dominic West) and seemingly very happy with their energetic sex-life, but then she falls in love with an American millionaire's gold-digging wife (POLDARK's Eleanor Tomlinson). Later she becomes the great love of Paris's most in-your-face butch bitch, Missy (Denise Gough). Colette's affairs are reproduced in the Claudine books, making her a scandalous success in society as well as book sales.

Plot-wise, the movie has to build a mountain out of a series of mole-hills, the moles being Colette and Willy's frequent changes of partners. Unlike this winter's other lesbian love-fest THE FAVOURITE, with its bawdy comic overtone, Colette is played very straight (ahem), so it's not quite so much fun. Bravura performances all round. Sumptuous cinematography beautifully recreates Belle Epoque Paris, and with gorgeous frocks and throbbing sex scenes the movie is definitely a feast for the senses.
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
The Favourite (2018)
8/10
Queen Anne: gouty, doughty - and gay
3 January 2019
It's the early 1700s. England's war with France is not going well, and the Queen is playing with her rabbits. She has 17 rabbits, in memory of the 17 children she lost or miscarried. When she's not playing with rabbits, Queen Anne (Olivia Colman), gouty and doughty, is playing with her latest squeeze, Sarah Duchess of Marlborough (Rachel Weisz).

Yes, dear fellow citizens of the realm, our sometime sovereign lady Queen Anne was a "friend of Dusty" (long before Dusty). There is (Wikipedia) historical evidence (mostly letters) of a whole series of attachments to ladies of the court. In the movie Sarah's cousin Abigail (Emma Stone) inveigles her way into the palace and, surprisingly soon, into the Queen's bedchamber. The feud for Anne's affections has ramifications in Parliament as well as in the palace.

There are some lesbian scenes here, plus a small amount of heterosexual sex in the movie - played for laughs - and a large amount of swearing, with liberal use of both F-word and C-word. The somewhat camp vulgarity and the brisk pace of the narrative will have reminded many in the audience of the CARRY_ -ON comedies. I was more reminded of THE MADFNESS OF KING GEORGE, Alan Bennett's royal Regency romp, which wore its lese-majesty with a similarly brazen air of triumph.

The acting by the three female stars is nothing less than glorious. The male cast members are also outstanding in more ways than one. There are some weird camera angles which I found distracting and some of the music score is painful to hear, but this is another right-royal romp, tragi-comic with a bias towards comedy, not quite as enjoyable as Mr Bennett's, but a splendid visual feast.
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Tulip Fever (2017)
7/10
Fifty shades of tulip
13 December 2018
Based on a book by Deborah Moggach, who gave us the original story for THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL, TULIP could hardly be more different. For starters it's a lot more raunchy, with sex scenes that could almost be out of FIFTY SHADES - except than there isn't any spanking. In 17th-century Amsterdam, when tulip bulbs are changing hands at the kind of price we associate with Chanel fragrances, Sophia Sandvoort (Alicia Vikander) starts cheating on her much older husband (Christoph Waltz) with a handsome young artist (Dane DeHaan). Sophia's cook (Holliday Grainger) becomes jealous after her own lover is shanghaied.

The tulip bubble is about to burst, and with it comes the inevitable crisis in the love affair. Despite an intelligent script and good performances, TULIP FEVER Fever is a bit like period soap opera spiced up to porno-lite. As in soaps, the storyline is predictable and the characters over-familiar, but the cinematography is gorgeous and production values are high. In a similar league to Scarlett O'Hara, Sophia Sandvoort is not an entirely sympathetic heroine.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Widows (2018)
6/10
More caper than crime story
22 November 2018
Despite some talky scenes, WIDOWS moves at a fairly cracking pace, with car chases and killings paving the way to plot twists that add to the echoes of last summer's all-girl OCEAN'S 8. More caper than crime story, this version of WIDOWS replaces the gritty realism of the 1980s UK TV series with high-gloss violence and the kind of villains we have seen all too often - corrupt politicos and vicious crimelords. Liam Neeson's Harry is a minor variation on his overdone TAKEN character, and although her performance is first-rate, Viola Davis's Veronica lacks the quiet fury of Ann Mitchell's Dolly Rawlins in 1983.

Worth watching? Yeah, but I'd rather see the TV series again.
0 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Halloween (I) (2018)
6/10
Grandma scream queen
24 October 2018
John Carpenter's original music is back again, like the Bond theme, reminding us that this is a serial study of a serial killer. Jamie Lee Curtis can still strut her stuff as the 'Scream Queen', but there's not a lot that's new here. Actually there's nothing that's new here. It's just another stalk 'n' slash job. There are, inevitably, some jumpy moments: is that enough? I guess so. My favourite character is the Haddonfield sheriff (Will Patton) who bears a disturbing resemblance to George W. Bush and claims to have been there 40 years ago.

Michael is like Dracula: he's unstoppable and has already returned from the grave quite a few times. Presumably there will be a fiftieth anniversary and, eventually, a centenary. There will always be a new generation to scare and some diehard fans who are grandparents themselves, like Jamie Lee and perhaps like you and me.
1 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
A star is - loudly - born
24 October 2018
Two major revelations: Lady Gaga can act! And Bradley Cooper can sing. This is very much a remake of the Barbara Streisand/Kris Kristofferson version (1976) with 'country rock' songs rather than the 'Some Enchanting Evening' sound of the 1954 Judy Garland/James Mason version, which I still prefer. Funnily enough, the ending of this new movie does carry a strong echo of the Garland movie and a fainter echo of 'The Man That Got Away'.

The love story works thanks to onscreen chemistry and quality performances. Gaga actually reminds me of Streisand in FUNNY GIRL: she brings that sense of a raw burgeoning talent. I'm not a fan of her singing: she has a shouty style that reminds me, not pleasantly, of Carly Simon. Bradley Cooper sings as well (and in similar voice) as Kristofferson in the 1976 version. He also directs with considerable flair and has an amazing screen presence. Not sure he'll get awards for this, but clearly his star, unlike Jackson Maine's in the movie, is rising.

This is a loud, gutsy movie. I'm an old softie, I wanted more ballads.
6 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
5/10
Not insidious enough!
1 October 2018
This has had rave reviews from the critics. Since it's based on a famous novel, I was expecting something in the league of THE INNOCENTS (1961), but this one is a plodding story with a leaden script.

It's 1948. A timid young doctor (Domhnall Gleeson) is called to the crumbling country mansion where his mother once worked as a maid. The imperious Mrs Ayres (Charlotte Rampling - always good at imperious) lives with her war-wounded son and neurotic daughter. After a child dies a violent death strange things start to happen.

Not strange enough for my taste. Mysteriously pounding doors made us jump in THE HAUNTING (1963) but we need a bit more than that to make us jump now. Are we meant to wonder if the haunting was imaginary? Presumably not, since everyone is affected. Perhaps the house itself is evil, like the one in THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER. Plenty of atmosphere here but more clarity needed.

The ghost, if it was a ghost, moved v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y. Too slowly for me. I was bored
1 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Victor Meldrew times four!
22 September 2018
Warning: Spoilers
A quartet of elderly crooks decide to give their pensions a boost by robbing a safe deposit vault in London's Hatton Garden. The four old geezers are played by Michael Caine, Tom Courtenay, Jim Broadbent and Ray Winstone. Since these are four National Treasures, they are played as lovable - albeit foul-mouthed - old curmudgeons: Victor Meldrew in quadruplicate! Michael Gambon as an antiquated chum who will fence the jewellery and diamonds makes it a geriatric quintet. The only youngster is an electronic expert (Charlie Cox) who they think must be a pouf because he disguises himself with long hair. There are a few hiccups in their plan to drill through to the vault from the basement next door - the drill burns out at one stage - but we know they will make it and bring off one of the biggest heists in crime history. And get caught.

How do we know? Because this is the third movie version of the true-life break-in of 2015 which was hailed as the Crime of the (young) Century. The title character (Michael Caine) came out of jail in time to see the movie this summer.

This is an easy story to like, despite its over-familiarity, because these are actors it would be hard to dislike in a caper in which no one gets hurt (other than the depositors and who cares about those affluent bastards?). Ray Winstone had a meatier robbery role in SEXY BEAST (200), and Michael Caine is barely stretched to play a criminal mastermind. Tom Courtenay has to be a bit deaf and a bit daft; Jim Broadbent has to be bad-tempered; Michael Gambon has to be borderline-doolally; Charlie Cox has to be not-quite-eye-candy. Those are the goods, and everybody delivers them. Nuff said.
3 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
The Meg (2018)
6/10
Jurassic Jaws
30 August 2018
As the poster suggests, this is basically a mash-up of JAWS and PIRANHA. Filmed in the seas off China with a largely Chinese cast, it delivers what monster movie fans expect: an escalating series of disposable extras being disposed of. Jason and the scientists are in constant peril, but we sort of know who will make it to the end of the movie - and who won't. Jason flashes his pecs in a shower scene, which for some fans is already worth the price of admission.

21st century CGI delivers a much better shark than Stephen Spielberg was able to muster in 1975. But JAWS had a screenplay which was original back then (from Peter Benchley's best-selling novel) but has gone stale with repetition. Despite its recycled script, THE MEG has terrific pace and some seriously jumpy moments. Yes, it's hoary old hokum, but it's hugely enjoyable.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
A boy called Tom
12 July 2018
A plot summary of this movie would put most filmgoers off. A traumatised US veteran and his daughter are living 'off the grid' in a forest in Oregon. Social services catch up with them and house them in a suburban community. The girl begins to enjoy a more 'normal' life but her dad insists on returning to the wilderness until an accident forces them to stay in a trailer park and come to a decision about their future.

This slight story is given huge substance by the intense performances of Ben Foster and Thomasin McKenzie. There's a lot the viewer has to guess at. We can see Dad is deeply disturbed but we're only given brief nightmare glimpses of military chaos in whatever godforsaken war zone he served in. We learn that Mom's favourite colour was yellow but we're not told how or why she left them. Why is the daughter called Tom - surely not because the actress is called Thomasin?

McKenzie's Tom is heart-wrenchingly believable; you care deeply about where this girl's life is headed. The role and the story carry strong echoes of Jennifer Lawrence's 'break-through' picture WINTER'S BONE (2010) from the same writer/director team, Anne Rosellini and Debra Granik. Where other films have masses of action and crude dialogue, LEAVE NO TRACE has slow moments and silent faces which convey hope and heartbreak. This is a movie that sets out to touch your soul and, boy, how it does.
8 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Ocean's Eight (2018)
5/10
#MeToo girls just wanna have fun
26 June 2018
Oh dear. I wanted to like this - a heist movie for the #MeToo sisterhood. It's barely more than so-so, not as entertaining as the George Clooney remake of OCEAN'S 11, but - mercifully - not as dire as OCEAN'S 12 (I can't recall 13 - was it good or awful? So-so?).

Although written and directed by a man (Gary Ross), this is very much a ladies-only excursion. Girls rule the caper; men are there to be turned into mincemeat. The actual heist scene is stylishly (and expensively) staged, but getting there takes a bit too long. As in the Clooney trilogy, there's an implausible (and not very original) twist in the tale. The cast seem to be having fun, but the audience was not. The script needed a lot more SEZ AND THE CITY-style zingy one-liners.

Is this the launch of trilogy? OCEAN'S 9 and 10? And then we'll find out Danny isn't really dead: OCEAN'S 14. Oh dear.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Hereditary (2018)
7/10
Some recycling here
22 June 2018
Warning: Spoilers
HEREDITARY is a ghost story from the school of INSIDIOUS. An affluent family in a forested town in Utah experience spooky goings-on when a grisly accent kills their young daughter only weeks after they buried their beloved grandmother. The high-school-age son (Alex Woolff) goes rapidly to pieces, as does his mother, played by Toni Collette who makes her the most formidable character in horror movies since Kathy Bates in MISERY. Dad (Gabriel Byrne) tries vainly to hold the family together.

The key character in the story is a neighbour, Joan, also bereaved, who dabbles in Ouija-board-style spiritualism. Joan is played by Ann Dowd, whom we know (and fear) as Aunt Lydia in THE HANDMAID'S TALE. Like Aunt Lydia, Joan seems to mean well but we are obviously supposed to wonder about her true intent.

The casting of Dowd and Collette lifts this movie above the routine. Writer/director Ari Aster tries to give it the kind of epic 'grandeur' Stanley Kubrick brought to THE SHINING (a much over-rated film, in my opinion: it did not do justice to one of Stephen King's finest novels). HEREDITARY also has echoes of ROSEMARY'S BABY and that hoary old Hammer horror, THE DEVIL RIDES OUT. The ending is totally daft, and really there is very little that's new here, but you get a few nice jumpy moments along the way, and Toni Collette and Ann Dowd work very hard to elevate this story into the Gothic 'pantheon'.
0 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Virgins in the Sixties
12 June 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I was never a big fan of Ian McEwan's novel, which seemed to me a bit slight. The movie version has more meat on its bones, but at its core is the same dilemma: a middle-class couple in their twenties who are ill-prepared for the 'consummation' of their marriage in 1962 - five years before the "Summer of Love".

Most of the film happens on the day of the wedding. Alone in their room in a Dorset hotel, deeply in love but both sexually inexperienced, Florence and Edward (their names, like their story, belong to an earlier era than the 1960s) slowly move towards the Moment.

The Moment which goes so clumsily wrong must surely be something which has happened to many couples in times both ancient and modern. The movie has a coda in 2007 that shows how their lives have progressed since that disastrous evening.

The performances are extraordinarily good. Saoirse Ronan gives Florence a nervous intensity that is spot-on for the character. Billy Howle has the right look and the right awkwardness. The parents, nice and awful, are all perfect. The cinematography is lovely. The music uses some appropriately ironic pop songs from the 60s. McEwan's script expands his novel with humour as well as pathos. For me there is still a problem with the fact that one moment of 'sexual clumsiness' could have such a lasting impact.
6 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Oscar Wilde's 'afterlife' - bravo, Rupert Everett
30 May 2018
Warning: Spoilers
There have been three excellent previous screen versions of Wilde's fall from grace, but THE HAPPY PRINCE outshines them all.

Pre- and post-Fall are interwoven. Oscar tells 'The Happy Prince', his dark (Grimm) fairy story, to his children in flashbacks from Paris, where he also tells it to a couple of street kids who have become the children of his exile although the older brother is also his rent-boy. Bloated and dishevelled, the old Oscar still has the appetites which sent him to prison. And he still loves Lord Alfred Douglas, who joins Oscar in a villa in Naples (with more rent-boys) in Naples for a few bickering months. Robbie Ross (Edwin Turner) and Reggie Turner (Colin Firth) are the last London friends who offer loyalty and handouts.

Everett's Wilde is as poignant as Stephen Fry's but even more pitiable as poverty and ill-health overcome him. Colin Morgan gives 'Bosie' his prettiest incarnation since John Fraser in 1960. Emily Watson shines in brief scenes as Oscar's wife Constance, also forced into exile by his disgrace. Tom Wilkinson contributes a vivid cameo as the priest brought to Oscar's hotel deathbed. The famous lines about the wallpaper and 'dying beyond my means' are not forgotten; and Everett has scripted a few one-liners Oscar would happily steal the credit for.

The final scenes almost certainly take liberties with the facts, but they add an operatic grandeur to the 'Last Act'. Rupert Everett's long struggle to realise this project is a splendid homage to the tragedy of the 'comeback' that was Wilde's greatest drama, his greatest tragedy. The movie deserves to be garlanded with awards: an Oscar for Oscar!
18 out of 25 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
The Guernsey best exotic film title
1 May 2018
The story is a slight and sentimental one. Despite war and death, this is another feel-good movie, much like FINDING YOUR FEET a few months back and with a similar 'ensemble' cast. Lily James just may be the new Julie Andrews, always a joy to see. Michiel Huisman, who plays the farmer, is a new name to me (I haven't watched Game of Thrones), but he contributes a handsome central presence that reminded me of Alan Bates's Farmer Gabriel in the 1967 FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD. Tom Courtenay is solid as always. Penelope Wilton is outstanding as the widow drowning in the grief of two world wars.

Slight and sentimental, yes, but very involving. I so wanted this movie to have a happy-ever-after Mills & Boon-style ending. Does it? Go and find out.
4 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
An error has occured. Please try again.

Recently Viewed