tue 28/05/2024

Film Reviews

Driving Madeleine review - a Paris taxi ride reveals a harrowing life story

Markie Robson-Scott

Charles (French comedian Dany Boon), a jaded taxi driver in Paris, is stressed out. He owes money, the points on his license are mounting up, he barely has time to see his wife and daughter. When he gets a booking for a far-flung ride involving an old lady, he’s not enthusiastic even though the pay’s good. All joie de vivre has left him.

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Peter Doherty: Stranger In My Own Skin review – close-up on chaos

Nick Hasted

Pete Doherty’s notorious tabloid image as Kate Moss’s junkie rock star boyfriend blessedly faded following that relationship’s end, stopping short of Amy Winehouse territory. Katia deVidas’s documentary focuses on that addiction through his preferred self-image as a latter-day Rimbaud, a punk poet more suited to his current French home. The result is remarkably unvarnished, but narrowly framed.

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Anatomy of a Fall review - gripping psychological thriller set in the French Alps

Markie Robson-Scott

There’s a splinter of ice in the heart of a writer, said Graham Greene, and that ice plays a part in French director Justine Triet’s superb fourth feature, which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes.

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A Forgotten Man review - Switzerland's WW2 record haunts monochrome drama

Saskia Baron

Switzerland isn’t exactly famous for parading its history during WWII. Remaining neutral from the conflict like its neighbour Liechtenstein, the Swiss benefitted from financial and armament deals with Nazi Germany, turned away Jewish refugees at the border and, post-war, failed to inform the remaining families of Holocaust victims about the deposits left by dead relatives in Swiss banks. 

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Rustin review - a doubly liberated American life

Nick Hasted

This is a tribute to a forgotten hero, gay black Quaker Bayard Rustin (Colman Domingo), driving force behind the 1963 March on Washington, the vast peaceful protest that sanctified Martin Luther King as his oratory seemed to lift black America towards a Promised Land.

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On the Adamant review - moving French documentary focusing on mental health

Saskia Baron

On the Adamant is an endearing  documentary by the French director Nicolas Philibert, best known here for his 2003 film, Être et Avoir, a portrait of a single-room school in the Auvergne.

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Dance First - the travails of Samuel Beckett

Hugh Barnes

Dance First takes its title from a line in Samuel Beckett’s most famous work Waiting for Godot. “Perhaps he could dance first and think afterwards,” says the tramp Estragon of Pozzo’s slave Lucky, who then proceeds to do both in a typically absurd Beckettian way.

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How to Have Sex review - compelling journey of a vulnerable teen

Helen Hawkins

Molly Manning Walker surprised herself by winning the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes this year with her rites-of-passage feature, How to Have Sex. Why the surprise? It’s a compelling debut.

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The Royal Hotel review - sexual malice in Australia

Graham Fuller

The jitters-inducing first feature directed on home soil by the Australian filmmaker Kitty Green is named after The Royal Hotel, the only pub in an Outback mining community removed from civilised society. To suggest all the blokes who drink there are potential rapists would be wrong: only 95 per cent of them are.

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Beyond Utopia review - harrowing escape stories vividly captured with live footage

Sarah Kent

If Madeleine Gavin’s Beyond Utopia doesn’t make you cry, you’re a hard nut to crack. The film records the fortunes of defectors fleeing North Korea, a hell hole that is more like a prison camp than a country.

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Typist Artist Pirate King review - shine on, Audrey Amiss

Graham Fuller

The stories told by writer-director Carol Morley are poignant reclamation projects that demonstrate empathy for lost or troubled souls but don’t flinch from difficult truths.

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20,000 Species of Bees review - a marvel of a debut

James Saynor

Are we all getting older, or are film award-winners getting younger? Sofía Otero won the Silver Bear for best lead performance at the Berlin Film Festival this year at the age of just nine. To achieve that, it surely needs to be one of the best moppet turns of all time – and I think it quite possibly is.
 
She plays an eight-year-old boy who doesn’t answer to the name of Aitor even when he’s gone missing and dozens of searchers are yelling it out.

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The Killer review - David Fincher's latest cult movie?

Saskia Baron

Since its release in 1999 David Fincher’s Fight Club has become something of a cult movie with young men who recite lines from the script like mantras. "This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time". It seems likely his new film, The Killer, will inspire the same devotion with the same demographic.

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Cat Person review - the dynamics of dating and bad sex

Markie Robson-Scott

Margot (Emilia Jones; Coda) has made a terrible mistake. She’s landed up in bed with Robert (Nicholas Braun; cousin Greg in Succession) and realises the sex is going to be excruciatingly bad.

How to tell him that she’s changed her mind? Can she leave before it’s too late? Or is it easier to get it over with, otherwise he might turn nasty? 

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Our River... Our Sky review - another people's war

Hugh Barnes

The first casualty of war is not truth, as the saying goes, but humanity – and not just in the sense of collateral damage. Media reporting turns victims into news items, along with satellite images of wrecked buildings or tanks crawling through a desert.

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Killers of the Flower Moon review - the Osage tragedy

Graham Fuller

At the centre of Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, closely adapted from the 2017 non-fiction book by the investigative journalist David Grann, is the true story of how the white former doughboy Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprii) was inveigled into slowly poisoning his Native American wife Mollie (Lily Gladstone) for her share of oil wealth in 1920s Oklahoma.

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