Film Review: The Invisible Woman (2013)

The Invisible Woman, in which Charles Dickens is a dick, Joanna Scanlan is magnificent and Ralph Fiennes is really rather good as both director and star

“He is a good man…trying to be a good man”

A film I’ve had on my ‘must get round to watching’ list for a wee while now, The Invisible Woman turns out to be an embrassment of riches for pretty much everyone involved. Written by Abi Morgan and adapted from Claire Tomalin’s novel of the same name, its focus is the years-long love affair between Charles Dickens and Nelly Ternan which had been subject to a superinjunction of its time and thus largely secret.

And directed by Ralph Fiennes who also stars as Dickens, it is a rather fine film indeed, eloquently restrained in its depiction of the emotional impact of him being, well, a cad. We open with Felicity Jones’ Nelly married to someone else at some point in the future but soon flash back to her late teenage years when trying to make it as an actress, her path fatefully crosses with the illustrious writer and his inflated ego. Continue reading “Film Review: The Invisible Woman (2013)”

London Film Critics Circle Awards 2021 nominees

Film of the Year
Belfast
Drive My Car
Dune
Licorice Pizza
The Lost Daughter
Memoria
The Power of the Dog
The Souvenir Part II
Titane
West Side Story

Director of the Year
Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog
Ryusuke Hamaguchi – Drive My Car
Joanna Hogg – The Souvenir Part II
Céline Sciamma – Petite Maman
Denis Villeneuve – Dune Continue reading “London Film Critics Circle Awards 2021 nominees”

Film Review: After Love (2020)

A sensational performance by Joanna Scanlan anchors the waves of grief in Aleem Khan’s brilliant debut film After Love

“We all break the rules we set for ourselves in the end”

Mary’s world is turned upside down when her husband dies. Having converted to Islam to marry cross-Channel ferry captain Ahmed in Dover decades ago, she’s been used to his long absences but even in the bosom of his Urdu-speaking family’s grief rituals, her loneliness feels absolute. Her world is rocked even further though when she discovers a secret phone and a French ID card, suggesting that more was going on in his time away than she ever imagined.  

Such is the set up for Aleem Khan’s gorgeous debut film After Love. From there, we follow Mary over the Channel to Calais in search of answers, meeting Geneviève and Solomon and desperately insinuating herself into their lives. And from this rather unique position in their household, she starts to peel back the layers, not only of the husband whom she thought she knew, but also of her own identity, one so radically changed but now so fundamentally shaken by her discoveries. Continue reading “Film Review: After Love (2020)”

2021 British Independent Film Awards

Best British Independent Film
WINNER – After Love – Aleem Khan, Matthieu de Braconier
Ali & Ava – Clio Barnard, Tracy O’Riordan
Boiling Point – Philip Barantini, James Cummings, Bart Ruspoli, Hester Ruoff
The Nest – Sean Durkin, Ed Guiney, Derrin Schlesinger, Rose Garnett, Amy Jackson, Christina Piovesan
The Souvenir Part II – Joanna Hogg, Ed Guiney, Emma Norton, Andrew Lowe, Luke Schiller

Best Director
WINNER – After Love – Aleem Khan
Ali & Ava – Clio Barnard
Boiling Point – Philip Barantini
The Nest – Sean Durkin
The Souvenir Part II – Joanna Hogg Continue reading “2021 British Independent Film Awards”

2021 British Independent Film Awards nominations

Best British Independent Film
After Love – Aleem Khan, Matthieu de Braconier
Ali & Ava – Clio Barnard, Tracy O’Riordan
Boiling Point – Philip Barantini, James Cummings, Bart Ruspoli, Hester Ruoff
The Nest – Sean Durkin, Ed Guiney, Derrin Schlesinger, Rose Garnett, Amy Jackson, Christina Piovesan
The Souvenir Part II – Joanna Hogg, Ed Guiney, Emma Norton, Andrew Lowe, Luke Schiller

Best Director
After Love – Aleem Khan
Ali & Ava – Clio Barnard
Boiling Point – Philip Barantini
The Nest – Sean Durkin
The Souvenir Part II – Joanna Hogg Continue reading “2021 British Independent Film Awards nominations”

Film Review: The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)

Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman cast a starry glow over Philippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl

“When was it that people stopped thinking of ambition as a sin and started thinking of it as a virtue?”

There’s something almost anarchic about the way in which The Other Boleyn Girl casually disregards history in favour of melodrama. But there’s no other way in which Justin Chadwick’s film could reasonably play it, concertinaing some 15 years of tumultuous history into less than two hours of really rather enjoyably trashy entertainment.

Peter Morgan’s screenplay adapts Philippa Gregory’s novel of the same name, and fully embodies the bodice-ripping nature of the historical fiction on which she has made her name. They reimagine Mary Boleyn as a virtuous, wholesome younger sister for Anne, thereby creating an unexpectedly complicated rival for Henry VIII’s affections. Continue reading “Film Review: The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)”

Film Review: Notes on a Scandal (2006)

A marvellously against-type Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett score a huge hit in Notes on a Scandal

“Lasagne irritates my bowels, I’ll ask for a small portion”

Intelligently adapted from Zoë Heller’s novel by Patrick Marber, you get the feeling that Notes on a Scandal would be good even if anyone was acting in it. But since Richard Eyre’s film boasts Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett as its leads, it is something extraordinary.

Barbara and Sheba both teach at the same Islington secondary school. Barbara a long-serving history teacher, Sheba a brand new recruit to the art department, an unlikely friendship develops between the pair, one which detonates when the latter starts an affair with a pupil. Continue reading “Film Review: Notes on a Scandal (2006)”

Lockdown film review: Tulip Fever (2017)

Despite a mostly good cast, Tulip Fever proves a punishingly dull film – not even self-isolation should drive you to this one

“Amsterdam was captivated by a flower”

The signs weren’t good. Tulip Fever was filmed in 2014 but was pushed and pulled around the schedules before it finally surfaced in 2017, notorious producer Harvey Weinstein clearly hoping that some post-production magic would win over reluctant test audiences. Safe to say though, such an amount of chopping and changing does no-one any favours as Justin Chadwick’s film remains punishingly dull. 

Based on Deborah Moggach’s book, with screenplay by Moggach and Tom Stoppard, the story (mainly) centres on Sophia, an orphan whisked out of convent life by a wealthy merchant who wants her essentially as a brood mare, But things ain’t clicking in the bedroom, so Sophia tumbles into an affair with the artist her husband has commissioned to do their portrait. And competing for screentime, tulip mania has hit the Netherlands. Continue reading “Lockdown film review: Tulip Fever (2017)”