Stream On Vol.19

Welcome to volume nineteen of Stream On, where I recommend 5 things you could watch on some of your favourite streaming sites.

Not enough for you here? Try the previous volumes –volumes 1234567891011121314 , 1516, 17 & 18.

Midnight Special (2016 – BBC iPlayer – 105 mins)

A father (Michael Shannon) and son go on the run, pursued by the government and a cult drawn to the child’s special powers. Also starring Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst and Adam Driver – this is a poignant fantastic fantastical science fiction drama.

Force Majeure (2014 – All4 – 120 mins)

Forget Downhill, the Will Ferrell led remake from 2020 (in all fairness, you probably have). If you’re going to watch a drama about a family vacationing in the French Alps who are confronted with a devastating avalanche that exposes the façade that surrounds them – make it this one. Just brilliant.

Something’s Gotta Give (2003 – Netflix – 128 mins)

Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton, Keanu Reeves, Amanda Peet and Frances McDormand in a romantic comedy classic about a swinger on the cusp of being a senior citizen with a taste for young women who falls in love with an accomplished woman closer to his age.

Summerland (2020 – SKY/NOW – 100 mins)

Gemma Arterton is simply wonderful as a curmudgeonly woman who learns opens her heart to an evacuee after initially resolving to be rid of him in this moving journey of womanhood, love and friendship.

Evolution (2001 – Amazon Prime – 101 mins)

A fire-fighting cadet (Seann William Scott), two college professors (David Duchovny and Orlando Jones), and a geeky but sexy government scientist (Julianne Moore) work against an alien organism that has been rapidly evolving since its arrival on Earth inside a meteor. The kind of mid-budget science fiction comedy they just don’t seem to make enough of any more.

Stream On Vol. 18

Welcome to volume eighteen of Stream On, where I recommend 5 things you could watch on some of your favourite streaming sites.

Not enough for you here? Try the previous volumes –volumes 1234567891011121314 , 1516 and 17.

The White Lotus (2021 – SKYGO/NOW – 6 x 55 mins)

In a tropical Hawaiian luxury resort, an array of guests and employees experience a week like no other. A pitch-black satire, perfectly blending comedy and drama – this is one for fans of Succession, with a perfectly timed UK release to plug the void before season 3’s return next month. Featuring an incredible cast (Connie Britton, Jennifer Coolidge, Jake Lacy and Steve Zahn to pick but a few) that are phenomenal across the board, experience schadenfreude in its purest form as we get to see awful rich people do awful rich people things – with building menace and overtones that something properly awful is on the fast-approaching horizon.

Personal Shopper (2016 – BBC iPlayer – 105 mins)

The hate behind the Twilight series was always problematic, viewed with venomous derision by much of the press and public it exposed the clear distain held for products being viewed as ‘for’ teenage girls. Its stars continue to be scoffed at by many for having appeared in the franchise, displaying an ignorance of their true talents. Any Kristen Stewart doubters need to give this one a try – a modern gothic in which she plays a personal shopper in Paris who refuses to leave the city until she makes contact with her twin brother who previously died there. Her life becomes more complicated when a mysterious person contacts her via text message. An atmospheric slow-burn.

The Last Five Years (2014 – Amazon Prime – 94 mins)

There are three musicals that I will see no question and no matter what. Those are Hadestown, Rocky Horror and this one. Whilst the film version doesn’t capture the full magic of the show, it’s a close-enough stopgap till the opportunity arises to see it on the stage again. (If you’re London-based, that’s not too far away at all…) A struggling actress and her novelist lover each illustrate the struggle and deconstruction of their love affair. The twist? Their stories are told in alternating reverse, Kathy (Anna Kendrick) starts at the end and Jamie (Jeremy Jordan) at the beginning.

His Girl Friday (1940 – Amazon Prime – 92 mins)

Someday I will fulfil my dream of writing a deep dive feature into my love of the grumpy/sunshine enemies to lovers trope. For now, I’ll just continue to use every opportunity to point you in the direction of iconic examples – few are as iconic as this one. A newspaper editor (Cary Grant) uses every trick in the book to keep his ace reporter ex-wife (Rosalind Russell) from remarrying. The whip smart dialogue is delivered at lightning speed – in most screenplays, one page of dialogue translates to approximately one minute of film. But with all of the overlapping and simultaneous dialogue in His Girl Friday, the film ended up at a fast-paced 92 minutes instead of the lengthy 191 minutes the screenplay seemed to dictate (click here for more incredible facts about the film). Just brilliant.

Logan Lucky (2017 – SKYGO/NOW – 118 mins)

Two brothers (Channing Tatum and Adam Driver) attempt to pull off a heist during a NASCAR race in North Carolina. Both leads show impeccable comedy chops in this hilarious heist caper. But Daniel Craig is the MVP, with a performance that has to be seen to be believed.

Stream On Vol. 16

After a four week break (July was rough, let’s just all agree to move on and leave it behind!) we’re back baby. Welcome to volume sixteen of Stream On, where I recommend 5 things you could watch on some of your favourite streaming sites. Not enough for you here? Try the previous volumes – volumes 1234567891011121314 and 15.

Summer Of Soul (2021: Disney+: 118 minutes)

1969 is viewed as the year of Woodstock, with Harlem Cultural Festival which celebrated African American music and culture, and promoted Black pride and unity being forgotten in the sands of time. A beautifully balanced documentary, favouring performance footage with the addition of talking heads and archive footage, we get to be in the room (park) where it happens. The music is out of this world, powerful and extraordinary.

I Capture The Castle (2003: BBC iPlayer: 107 minutes)

After William Goldman’s The Princess Bride, Dodie Smith’s (who also wrote The Hundred and One Dalmatians) I Capture The Castle is my second favourite book of all time. This is a solid adaptation of the book, but a great 1930s-set period drama in its own right. 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain (Romola Garai) lives in a decaying English castle with her eccentric family, they are running out of money as their author father (Bill Nighy) continues to struggle with writers block. When their new landlords arrive, Americans Simon (Henry Thomas) and Neil (Marc Blucas), the former looks set to catch the heart of Cassandra’s sister Rose (Rose Byrne) whilst Stephen (Henry Cavill) continues to wistfully long for Cassandra.

Beast (2017: All4: 107 mins)

A troubled woman (Jessie Buckley) living in an isolated community finds herself pulled between the control of her oppressive family and the allure of a secretive outsider (Johnny Flynn) suspected of a series of brutal murders. An intriguing and atmospheric gem.

The Founder (2016 :Amazon Prime: 115 mins)

The story of Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton), a salesman who turned two brothers’ (Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch) innovative fast food eatery, McDonald’s, into the biggest restaurant business in the world, with a combination of ambition, persistence, and ruthlessness. Pacey and well crafted.

Barb & Star Go To Vista Del Mar (2021: Sky/Now: 107 mins)

If you’re a fan of oddball comedy a la Step Brothers, there’s a good chance you’ll love this one as much as I do. Lifelong friends Barb (Annie Mumolo) and Star (Kristen Wiig) embark on the adventure of a lifetime when they decide to leave their small Midwestern town for the first time – ever. And then there’s Jamie Dornan in his best role ever. This song and performance will never not make me smile.

Stream On Vol. 15

Hope you’re having a fab week and enjoying the beautiful weather! Welcome to volume fourteen of Stream On, where I recommend 5 things you could watch on some of your favourite streaming sites. Not enough for you here? Try the previous volumes – volumes 12345678910111213 and 14.

The Red Turtle (2016 – Sky/NOW – 77 mins)

Nominated for Best Animated Feature Film of the Year in 2017, a man is shipwrecked on a deserted island and encounters a red turtle, which changes his life. But, like how Jaws isn’t just about a shark, this isn’t just about about a turtle. Instead it’s a powerful reflection of life, it’s extraordinary ordinariness and the beauty that can be found within it all.

120 BPM (2017 – ALL4 – 143 mins)

Members of the advocacy group ACT UP Paris demand action by the government and pharmaceutical companies to combat the AIDS epidemic in the early 1990s. Perfection.

Gods of Egypt (2016 – Amazon Prime – 127 mins)

It’s not often I recommend a ‘bad movie’ here. I hate the term guilty pleasure, as I think it’s wrong to ever feel like you should feel guilty over a think that gives you pleasure. If a film sparks joy, there should be no reason to repent for it. Gods of Egypt is a bad movie. A very bad movie. It’s so bad it lead to this Kermodian rant. It’s for all of those reasons, combined with how much joy I had on the particular day I watched it at the cinema, that I’m spending one of my weekly allowance on recommending it to you. Mainly so I can find my fellow fans who will team up with me to demand Prince Charles Cinema show it and let me play the drinking game bingo card I came up with for it. You can thank me later.

Rosie (2018 – BBC iPlayer – 80 mins)

The story of a mother (Sarah Greene) trying to protect her family after their landlord sells their rented home and they become homeless. Devastating and utterly heart-breaking, Roddy Doyle‘s first original screenplay in 18 years echoes the realism of Ken Loach in this depiction of a horrifically increasing issue.

<a href="http://<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/F5pI2UPaT8g&quot; title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen>Anita and Me (2002 – BBC iPlayer – 89 mins)

Based on Meera Syal‘s 1996 semi-autobiographical novel of the same name, Meena Kumar (Chandeep Uppal), a 11-year-old Sikh girl, lives with her family in the predominantly white, working-class, fictional mining village of Tollington in the Black Country in 1972. Meena meets Anita, a white, 14-year-old girl whom Meena comes to idolise. However, Meena finds it harder and harder to fit in as her Indian heritage keeps on resurfacing, and Anita’s new boyfriend proves to hold strong racist attitudes towards those he views as different. A sweet coming-of-age tale about finding your identity and your voice.

Stream On Vol. 14

Hope you’re having a fab week and enjoying the beautiful weather! Welcome to volume fourteen of Stream On, where I recommend 5 things you could watch on some of your favourite streaming sites. Not enough for you here? Try the previous volumes – volumes 1234567891011, 12 and 13.

Frances Ha (2012 – Film4 – 86 mins)

I revisited this film a few months back, for an article for the English Media Centre’s MediaMagazine and I can say with some certainty I love it even more as a result. Very, very few films examine platonic relationships with the intensity and potency as they do romantic relationships – this is one of them. Speaking from personal experience, friendship break-ups can in some ways feel even more cataclysmic than relationship breakups – and this film agrees. We follow Frances (Greta Gerwig) as her soulmate Sophie (Mickey Sumner) drifts away from her. Bittersweet and beautiful, with an iconic David Bowie needle drop of this banger. Oh, and this guy pops up called Adam Driver pops up in it. Whatever happened to that guy?

The Intern (2015 – Sky/Now – 121 mins)

The cinematic equivalent of a comfy chair, blanket and a mug of hot chocolate (obviously with whipped cream and marshmallows – I’m not a heathen). Seventy-year-old widower Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro) has discovered that retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Seizing an opportunity to get back in the game, he becomes a senior intern at an online fashion site, founded and run by Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway). Just lovely stuff.

A Single Man (2009 – Amazon Prime – 99 mins)

Based on the 1964 novel by Christopher Isherwood (a fascinating writer, his semi-autobiographical novel inspired the musical Cabaret). An English professor (Colin Firth), one year after the sudden death of his boyfriend, is unable to cope with his typical days in 1960s Los Angeles. Firth is extraordinary, with an incredible supporting cast in the form of Julianne Moore, Nicholas Hoult and Matthew Goode. The fact this was the debut of writer-director Tom Ford (yes, the designer) continues to boogle the mind.

Atypical (2017-2021 – Netflix – 38 x 30 mins)

Having had the joyous discovery this week that this is coming back for season 4 on July 7th, I had to give this one the plug it deserves. Sam (Keir Gilchrist), an 18-year-old on the autism spectrum, decides it’s time to find a girlfriend, a journey that sets Sam’s mom (Jennifer Jason Leigh) on her own life-changing path as her son seeks more independence. Brigette Lundy-Paine plays Sam’s sibling so wonderfully, Michael Rapaport just heart-breaking as their dad. Gorgeous, funny and heartfelt.

Kinky Boots (2005 – BBC iPlayer – 107 mins)

In the near-future, if there was a way to download our brains into some software to find the filmic dna that makes us who we are – this one would undoubtedly feature on my list. A drag queen (Chiwetel Ejiofor) comes to the rescue of a man (Joel Edgerton) who, after inheriting his father’s shoe factory, needs to diversify his product if he wants to keep the business afloat. There’s so many reasons as to why it would feature, but the biggest one would have to be it’s opening sequence – the transcendently rapturous joy captured to my favourite song of all time. Yes, it’s by David Bowie – how’d you know?

Stream On Vol.13

Hope you’re having a fab week and enjoying the beautiful weather! Welcome to volume thirteen of Stream On, where I recommend 5 things you could watch on some of your favourite streaming sites. Not enough for you here? Try the previous volumes – volumes 12345678910, 11 and 12.

Luca (2021 – Disney+ – 95 mins)

Unusual for Pixar, this isn’t an achingly poignant watch. Instead it’s a really charming coming-of-age summer movie, about a sea monster Luca (Jacob Tremblay) who tries out being human with the help of Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer) and unknowing villager Giulia (Emma Berman). Gorgeous animation – to the extent I really wish we’d had the option of watching on the big screen – told with humour and heart. Really bloody charming.

Us Again (2021 – Disney+ – 7 mins)

Before you watch Luca you’re going to need to watch a Pixar short, as per their cinematic tradition. Go for this one and have a lovely cathartic weep.

Together (2021 – BBC iPlayer – 90 mins)

A married couple, He (James McAvoy) and She (Sharon Horgan) are forced to re-evaluate themselves and their relationship through the reality of the Covid-19 lockdown. Hilarious, heart-breaking and beautifully done.

On Becoming A God In Central Florida (2019 – Netflix – 10 x 46 mins)

Disclaimer, I’m only on episode three of this so I can’t speak upon the whole series, but the those first few episodes are so compelling I’m going to give this an early seal of approval. In 1992 Central Florida, a minimum-wage water park employee (Kirsten Dunst) lies, schemes, and cons her way up the ranks of the cultish, multibillion-dollar pyramid scheme that drove her family to ruin. So dark and scathing, Dunst is incredible.

Our Friend (2019 – Amazon Prime – 124 mins)

Inspired by a true story, that first appeared as this Esquire story, Dane (Jason Segel) puts his life on hold and moves in with his best friends Matt (Casey Affleck) and Nicole (Dakota Johnson) when she receives life-altering news. Although it doesn’t reinvent the wheel in how the story is told, the story itself will tug at the heartstrings. Perfect Sunday afternoon watching.

Stream On Vol.12

Hope you’re having a fab week and enjoying the beautiful weather! Welcome to volume twelve of Stream On, where I recommend 5 things you could watch on some of your favourite streaming sites. Not enough for you here? Try the previous volumes – volumes 12345678910 and 11.

Adult Life Skills (2016 – Netflix – 96 mins)

Anna (Jodie Whittaker) is comfortable enough living in her mom’s garden shed making funny videos all day, but as she approaches 30, the reminders of her lost twin and the pressure from her mum to finally grow up begin to weigh heavily on her. Kindly awkward Brendan (Brett Goldstein) and a troubled 8 year old Western obsessive may be the perfect people to help.

24 Hour Party People (2002 – All4- 117 mins)

Directed by Michael Winterbottom and written by Frank Cottrell Boyce, we follow the possibly-true story of Tony Wilson (Steve Coogan) – the man who founded Factory Records and which bought us the music of  Joy Division and New OrderA Certain RatioThe Durutti Column and Happy Mondays. Packed full of British icons, this is a sharply written and performed must-see modern classic.

A Fish Called Wanda (1988 – BBC iPlayer – 108 mins)

I have a soft spot for this one for two reasons. 1) It’s a screwball classic starring John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis and Kevin Kline. 2) My dad (Nicholas Harrison) has a walk-on role in it. Here he is, 4/5 years B.C. (Before Charlotte)

The Party’s Just Beginning (2018 – Now/Sky – 91 mins )

Written, directed and starring (Karen Gillan), this is an achingly personal film following Liusaidh (Gillian) as she tries to pick up the pieces after her best friend loses his life to suicide. Her life has become a string of drinking, fast fod and meaningless sexual encounters. Dale (Lee Pace) is the stranger she meets who seems to be in as much pain as she is. (T.W for sexual assault and suicide)

Almost Famous ( 2000 – Prime – 122 mins)

Inspired by writer-director (Cameron Crowe)’s own adolescence, a 1970s high-school boy (Patrick Fugit) is given the chance to write a story for Rolling Stone Magazine about an up-and-coming rock band (with it’s warring stars Billy Crudup and Jason Lee) as he accompanies them on their concert tour. Kate Hudson is groupie extraordinaire Penny Lane and Philip Seymour Hoffman is Lester Bangs, William’s writing mentor – both who guide William through the adventure that is to come. Extraordinary.

Me Before You

A serviceable and relatively sincere weepie

Let’s start this with an admission. I am a crier. I have cried and will cry at everything and anything. An article on human kindness – I weep. An audition on a relatively television program – I sob. A particularly emotive song – I howl. Considering the nature of this film and what I had heard of the book I had the tissues at the ready. Literally I had taken a tissue out of the packet and tucked it into a jumper sleeve for easy access. Come the roll of the credits and the tissue had remained unused. I didn’t cry. This is not necessarily a criticism of the film – there were plenty of noses being blown and gentle sobbing echoed around the screen. Yet not a peep from me. Whether that is because I’m all cried out from recent weeks or whether the film didn’t have the emotional depth needed? Well, read on and see…

Two years ago William Traynor (Sam Claflin) was hit by a motorbike – leaving him paralysed from the neck-down. Will was once a man about town, living and hustling in London. The type of man all men envied and all women wanted. Now he is stuck back in his small-town home with his parents Camilla (Janet McTeer) and Steven (Charles Dance). Concerned by his desperately low spirits she decides to hire a carer/companion who can brighten up his lonely   existence.  Enter Louisa Clark (Emilia Clarke) who has just lost her job at the local cafe. Aged 26 she has never left her small town home, a place which she either loves too much or is too scared to leave. Her family rely on her as she brings in the only income so this job is perfect for her! Except she has zero experience as a carer. Having always been outshone by her younger sister, single mother Katrina (Jenna Coleman), or patronised by her long-term boyfriend Patrick (Matthew Lewis), Louisa is a woman not living life to its fullest. Maybe Will, a man who can no longer enjoy life, is the perfect person to help her live hers?

Having not read the book I cannot comment on the success of the transition of book to screen, although Twitter would suggest it is faithful. The story itself is relatively predictable, with little surprise, though this is not necessarily a bad thing as the story itself is told rather well. The pacing is solid with the growing bond between Louisa and Will is believable.The supporting cast are impeccably stereotypical and two-dimensional. Roll call for romantic tragedy archetypes – we have present: jealous and moody boyfriend who ‘doesn’t understand or appreciate’ how amazing his girlfriend is. Overly concerned mother and withdrawn father. Know-it-all younger sibling full of great advice. Friendly Australian nurse who steals most of the scenes he is in… (Side note: how can I get my own Nathan, Stephen Peacocke..?) 

The main cast themselves are solid. Claflin does well with his role as a man who feels he has little reason to live. He provides his character with just enough spark to hint at the man Will once was. His bond with Clarke’s character is well-established and there is plenty of charisma between them. It’s Clarke’s performance that particularly stands out, with her facial expressions providing an earnest authenticity to her character. Although her character is essentially a 2016 small-town England Manic Pixie Dream Girl (her ‘quirky’ clothes and shoes used to denote her character as opposed to providing her with any genuine character traits) she is remarkably likeable. Her eyebrow acting is, as my secondary school students would say, on point – managing to show so much with them knitted in concern.

There’s enough here to watch and enjoy with a glass of wine. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel but if you’re a fan of such films as  The Fault In Our Stars or Me, Earl and the Dying Girl then you’ll enjoy this.

stars

Miles Ahead

The man, a fair bit of myth and a whole lotta legend

It what may be my favourite bit of description from the year so far director/co-writer/lead Don Cheadle describes ‘Miles Ahead’ as being a ‘metaphorical’ biopic of Miles Davies. Fact and fiction are rather skillfully blended to pay tribute to an incredible musician, a leader of the genre that should be called ‘social music not jazz’. For better or for worse (depending on your view) this is not a typical music biopic – it’s free from the cliches that come with it – instead favouring a magnificent mooch-like approach in exploring the lives and loves of a true musical legend.

It’s 1979 and Miles Davies (Don Cheadle) has been a recluse for five years. A rumoured comeback – not that Davies himself would call it that – is being heard on the grapevine. Having lost this muse Frances (Emayatzy Corinealdi) and his ‘lip’ thanks to self-medicating a variety of drugs, word gets around that Miles has actually recorded some new music – only he’s refusing to give it to his record label Columbia. That’s when Rolling Stone journalist Dave Brill (Ewan McGregor) literally comes a-knocking on his door. The attempted interview between the pair quickly descends into utter chaos – involving drug deals, shootouts, car chases, stolen records and a few trips into memory lane.

The greatest thing about this film is the fact that when watching it it is clear that you are watching a passion project. The adoration that Cheadle clearly feels towards Miles Davis pays off completely and shines through every mannerism or rasping of dialogue. Even when high as a kite or desperately searching for his next hit he is shown to be a true man of sharp-suited cool. And even when slightly darker sides of his personality come out – such as in the flashbacks of his relationship with Francis – he is still a character we can connect with even when we may not like him at that particular moment. His self-destruction is portrayed with such affection by Cheadle – it shines through his eyes in every scene.

The events of the film are mostly fictional, inspired by the past as opposed to retelling. It’s a unique touch, a very ambitious touch at that, and one which mostly pays off in how well it reflects its subject. This is also emphasised by the construction of the film, with neat little choices of direction allowing for the present to seamlessly blend into the past. It’s not typical ‘day in the life’ fayre, nor is it rise and fall narrative. Instead the film drifts, swaggers if you will, from one moment to the next.

Like Davis the film is smooth, if occasionally rather frustrating in terms of its storytelling. It is hugely enjoyable and incredibly well-acted. And, like the man himself, never boring.

stars 

Louder Than Bombs

What happens to a bomb that doesn’t explode?

My response to this film is surprisingly (well it would be to my past self) problematic. If I had reviewed it soon after watching yesterday I would have been rather damning of the film. Now, with roughly 28 hours worth of distance from seeing it, I feel slightly warmer towards it. (Only a few degrees mind – let’s not go crazy). With a level of retrospect I can admire the ideas and ambition of the film, something which I wouldn’t have been able to do initially after watching. However, whilst I may feel softer towards it I am still not a fan and think the film is largely unsuccessful it what it wants to achieve.

Three years ago famous war photographer Isabelle Reed (Isabelle Huppert) died in what most believed was a car accident. Now, as a museum retrospective of her life and works is fast approaching, her close friend is about to write an article about her in the New York Times and as he advises her widower Gene (Gabriel Byrne) he will mention in the article the fact that her death was most likely suicide. Gene must now find a way of telling his youngest son Conrad (Devin Druid) the truth before he finds out through other means. An opportunity to do so arrives when eldest son Jonah (Jesse Eisenberg leaves his wife and newborn daughter to come home and help look through his mother’s work space to find photos for the retrospective. Whilst home Jonah must find a way of coming to terms with the past in the form of ex-girlfriend, his brother’s difficult present and how his future role as a father may be shaped by his relationship with his own. 

It’s interesting that through writing the above plot summary I found myself again warmly engaging with the key ideas of the film. All of us have been touched by some sense of loss and each of us will handle the grief in different ways – some may mentally stay in the past with that person whilst others may push such thoughts aside and stay primarily focused on the present and future.

All of the actors do a fine job in subtly portraying grief. Byrne’s father trying to do the right thing for his two boys whilst watching his relationships with both fade away truly pulls at the heartstrings and occasionally at the bone. Druid plays the difficult emotionally stunted teen finely and somewhat reflecting the universal horror of adolescence. As difficult as my audience-actor relationship is with Eisenberg (forgiveness for his version of Lex Luthor is still far far away) but at times I did appreciate his character Jonah. I can say quite honestly that in the film’s opening sequence I even enjoyed watching him.

But it’s Huppert’s grief that is perhaps the most visceral, even though it is she that is being grieved by the family she left behind. It is a roughly two minute sequence about halfway through the film that really demonstrates this. The camera just focuses on her face in close-up for two minutes. For those two minutes nothing else happens. But as we know her character and we know the emotional battles she suffered (between her art and being a mother/wife) we read the metaphorical scars on her face. We look into her eyes and see the utter despair. We look behind her mask in a way we either chose or are unable to do with each other in real life.

All of this being said I think these ideas are stunted by execution. Though the pontification and using on the nature of grief is extraordinary and truly applaudable, either through intention or accident we are unable to connect with any of the characters – all are pretty unlikeable on various levels and for various reasons. It’s this aspect of the film that will and has been truly dividing audiences. Perhaps it is intention – that grief cannot and should not be sugarcoated, sometimes it will bring out the worst in each of us. However I am in the camp that views this as a flaw and something that prevents me from truly connecting with the film.

Whilst I well and truly admire the film’s sentiments and ideas by borderline disdain for it’s characters stops me from truly appreciating its merits. The fact the film takes a rather poetic storytelling approach, of drifting between moments, of days being indefinable, of present day being interchangeable with memory, did was not cohesive enough for me. In some ways I write this paragraph with a degree of apology, as someone who lost a relative (my uncle) in June and will soon be facing the prospect of that first anniversary without him. Sometimes I reflect on whether I am grieving ‘properly’, if I am approaching my grief ‘healthily’ and if I am ‘normal’ in my response. The film carefully weaves these ideas into it’s narrative but somewhat abandons them in favour of artistic statement and style.

Whilst full of poignant moments the film is ultimately too cold and reserved to provide the cathartic intimacy it appears to wish to provide.

2 stars