sat 23/01/2021

Film Reviews

The Whalebone Box review - documentary through unreliable surrealism

Owen Richards

The UK-wide lockdown has thrown the cinematic release schedule into chaos. Some films are postponed indefinitely, while others have opted for direct digital releases. It’s not ideal for anyone, but in a strange way it may play to The Whalebone Box’s favour. Specialist arthouse streaming service MUBI has secured the exclusive rights, and their captive subscribers are the ideal audience for such a strange, hypnotic piece.

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The Perfect Candidate review - seeking status for women in Saudi

Tom Birchenough

Saudi director Haifaa Al Mansour is back on home territory with her new film, and you’ll recognise much here from her characterful 2012 debut Wadjda, itself the first-ever feature to emerge from her home country.

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Vivarium review – housing ladder to hell

Nick Hasted

Imagine being trapped in your perfect home forever. It’s easy if you try now, as Vivarium’s allegory about property and parenthood is deepened by events.

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System Crasher review – a compelling portrait of childhood violence and pain

Joseph Walsh

Benni, the central character in German writer-director Nora Fingscheidt's haunting new film, has a life of tragedy and violence.

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Fire Will Come review - slow-burning Spanish beauty

Nick Hasted

This lovely, contemplative Cannes prize-winner has something to teach us in testing times. Filmed in director Oliver Laxe’s grandparents’ Galician village, it observes convicted arsonist Amador’s return from jail to the fire-prone landscape he’s blamed for devastating....

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The Truth review - a potent Franco-Japanese pairing

Tom Birchenough

It may offer veteran French star Catherine Deneuve as substantial and engaging a role as she has enjoyed in years, but the real surprise of The Truth is that it’s the work of Japan’s Hirokazu Kore-eda.

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Run review – wheels on fire in Scotland

Graham Fuller

Run is the story of disgruntled 36-ish Finnie (Mark Stanley), a big, dour worker in a fish processing plant in the Aberdeenshire port of Fraserburgh – writer-director Scott Graham’s hometown.

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Calm with Horses review - a stirring debut

Saskia Baron

Nick Rowland marks his breakout from TV drama with this very competent feature, an adaptation of Colin Barrett’s short story.

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Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am review - a fitting tribute to a masterful storyteller

Joseph Walsh

When the Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison died last year, it was a chance to celebrate the remarkable life of a storyteller who shook the literary establishment. Her work, including her debut novel The Bluest Eye, broke radical new ground in depicting African American life.

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Misbehaviour review - crowd-pleaser tackles Seventies sexism

Joseph Walsh

Created in the mould of Made in Dagenham and Pride, Philippa Lowthrope offers up a cheery, kitschy British comedy centred around the 1970 Miss World Contest that was disrupted by feminist protests.&nbsp

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And Then We Danced review - glorious Georgian gay coming-of-age tale

Tom Birchenough

The final sequence of Levan Akin’s coming-of-age drama And Then We Danced is as gloriously defiant a piece of dance action as anything you’ll remember falling for in Billy Elliot.

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Onward review - do you believe in magic?

Jill Chuah Masters

Welcome to New Mushroomton: a fantasy land that’s forgotten itself. This is how we’re introduced to Pixar’s Onward, which is set in a Dungeons & Dragons daydream of suburbia. Director Dan Scanlon’s film is a tribute to his late father, but it begins with a separate elegy.

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The Photograph review - star-powered romance mostly simmers, sometimes soars

Jill Chuah Masters

The Photograph, from writer-director Stella Meghie, tells twin tales. The first is all flashback and follows Christine (Chanté Adams, pictured below with Y'lan Noel), a young photographer balancing love and ambition.

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Military Wives review - the surprising true story of the women who rocked the charts

Joseph Walsh

There’s a lot of plucky British charm to Military Wives, from Peter Cattaneo, the director who won the nation's heart with his debut film The Full Monty over two decades ago.

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Escape from Pretoria review - fun but facile prison-break drama

Adam Sweeting

Based on the book by former political prisoner Tim Jenkin, Escape from Pretoria is an intermittently engaging jailbreak tale set in South Africa’s apartheid regime in the 1970s, as well as further evidence of Daniel Radcliffe’s determination to run as far as possible in the opposite direction from his past life as Harry Potter. Its only problem is a troubling case of schizophrenia, since it’s not sure whether to be a pared-down thriller or a political statement.

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True History of the Kelly Gang review - anarchy in Oz

Nick Hasted

“Nothing you’re about to see is true,” this adaptation of Peter Carey’s novel about Australia’s iron-clad Victorian outlaw Ned Kelly declares.

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