Film Review: The Last Duel (2021)

Much more engaging than it ought to be, medieval drama The Last Duel intrigues with its multiple points of view starring Matt Damon, Adam Driver and Jodie Comer

“There is no right, only the power of men”

Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel copped its fair share of bad headlines when its box office performance severely underwhelmed, so I had fairly limited expectations. But whilst it might not be the most subtle of films, this rape-revenge epic is interestingly conceived as it presents the perspective of its three main protagonists in three distinct chapters.

Nicole Holofcener, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s screenplay is based on Eric Jager’s book The Last Duel: A True Story of Trial by Combat in Medieval France. And follows France’s last officially recognised judicial duel between noblemen Jean de Carrouges and Jacques Le Gris when the former’s wife Marguerite reports a rape by the latter. Continue reading “Film Review: The Last Duel (2021)”

2020 British Independent Film Awards nominations

Best British Independent Film
Rocks – Sarah Gavron, Ameenah Ayub Allen, Faye Ward, Theresa Ikoko and Claire Wilson
Calm with Horses – Nick Rowland, Joe Murtagh and Daniel Emmerson
The Father – Florian Zeller, Christopher Hampton, David Parfitt, Jean-Louis Livi and Philippe Carcassonne
His House – Remi Weekes, Aidan Elliott, Martin Gentles, Arnon Milchan, Edward King and Roy Lee
Saint Maud – Rose Glass, Andrea Cornwell and Oliver Kassman

Best Director
Remi Weekes – His House
Nick Rowland – Calm with Horses
Florian Zeller – The Father
Sarah Gavron – Rocks
Rose Glass – Saint Maud Continue reading “2020 British Independent Film Awards nominations”

Review: Shakespeare Trilogy, Donmar at King’s Cross

“As you from crimes would pardoned be,
Let your indulgence set me free”

I must confess I hate it when critics roll their reviews of separate shows of a larger ‘event’ into one overarching piece – if you have to buy separate tickets to see the shows, then reviewers should write reviews for each one. Of course, it’s never quite as simple as that, it’s nice to have the space to talk about the whole as well as the constituent parts, but it should be noted that the Shakespeare Trilogy has been just as enjoyable, if not more so, in its individual segments as it was on the epic (and awkwardly timed) trilogy day. 

I have seen all three of the shows before, and reviewed them – Julius Caesar, Henry IV, The Tempest – so that’s my excuse for this composite piece. And for all that Phyllida Lloyd was uber-keen on having the official press response to the trilogy, I have to admit I didn’t see too much artistic merit in running them together. The only real common thread that emerges is Harriet Walter’s epic performance(s) as Hannah, the lifer who is the only character to recur in the prison setting that is used for all three shows. Continue reading “Review: Shakespeare Trilogy, Donmar at King’s Cross”

Review: The Tempest, Donmar Warehouse at King’s Cross Theatre

“She did confine thee”

A slightly odd one this, the Donmar’s all-female adaptation of The Tempest opened at the King’s Cross Theatre late last month, but from what I can tell won’t be officially reviewed until 22nd November. The reasoning being that it is part of their Shakespeare Trilogy (productions of Julius Caesar from 28th October and Henry IV from 17th November are being remounted) and on select days, audiences can see all three back-to-back. And that is how director Phyllida Lloyd wants them to be critically reviewed, as an over-arching trilogy, which is all fine and good but tickets are either £90 or £120 for those days and I ain’t here for that (that said, if you’re 25 and under, 25% of the tickets are being made free due to this great scheme). So the majority of people seeing The Tempest will only see The Tempest and that’s why I’m writing this review now.

For this enterprise, the Donmar has decamped to the King’s Cross Theatre and a well-designed temporary space there (sightlines from the back row – F – are fine and dandy) with the audience seated on all four sides of the theatre. The sense of blank newness is perfectly suited to the institutional setting – Lloyd has returned to the prison set-up that has previously served so well – and retained several members of the ensemble including crucially, the glorious Harriet Walter, who has thrived on the opportunity to expand her already superlative Shakespearean experience. So from Brutus to Henry IV, she now ascends to take on the role of Prospero. Continue reading “Review: The Tempest, Donmar Warehouse at King’s Cross Theatre”

Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Filter at Lyric Hammersmith

“Keith, KEITH, it’s just two fellas kissing”

There was a moment towards the end of this performance, as Ferdy Robert’s burly roadie of a Puck launched into his epilogue, that perfectly encapsulates just how brilliant Filter are and also what magical power theatre can weave over even the rowdiest teenagers. Roberts began “if we shadows have offended” and was interrupted by loud, almost nervous, laughter. He looked up, gently but unflinchingly at the young woman and her friend until they quietened down, and then continued, addressing them directly at first and then widening out to the auditorium as a whole, our entire attention rapt.

It’s no mean feat to keep a theatre full of schoolkids hooked in silence (I attended the final preview), especially when the nature of this production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is so raucous and riotous. It played the Lyric Hammersmith back in 2012 and if it doesn’t have quite the same multiple surprise element as before, it is still highly amusing second time round. Co-directors Sean Holmes and Stef O’Driscoll have condensed the play right down with the company and reconstructed it in their own image, at once deeply respectful of Shakespeare yet also utterly anarchic in the way it is presented here. Continue reading “Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Filter at Lyric Hammersmith”

20 shows to look forward to in 2016

2016 is nearly upon and for once, I’ve hardly anything booked for the coming year and what I do have tickets for, I’m hardly that inspired by (the Garrick season has been ruined by the awfulness of the rear stalls seats, and I only got Harry Potter and the Cursed Child tickets due to FOMO). Not for the first time, I’m intending to see less theatre next year but I do have my eyes on a good few productions in the West End, fringe and beyond. Continue reading “20 shows to look forward to in 2016”