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Cinema Film round-up: October 13, 2021

Reviews of The Last Duel, The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao, Never Gonna Snow Again, Halloween Kills and Ron’s Gone Wrong

The Last Duel (18)
Directed by Ridley Scott
★★★★

BASED on actual events, this gripping and ruthless historical epic of betrayal, vengeance and misogyny set in 14th-century France explores the last recorded duel to the death and trial by combat.

It was between two friends turned bitter rivals: knight Sir Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon, sporting a horrendous mullet) and squire Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver), who was accused of raping Carrouges’s wife Marguerite (Jodie Comer).

The events are seen from each of their perspectives in turn as they relate their own truth, which comes in differing versions.

Based on Eric Jager’s novel and adapted for the screen by Damon, Ben Affleck, who also stars in the film, and Nicole Holofcener, it isn’t until the third act that the film bursts into nail-biting harrowing life, with a powerhouse performance by Comer as she reveals the reality about her narcissistic husband, their marriage and the ambitious and overly cocky Le Gris.

The film explores the gruelling and powerless existence led by women who were beholden to their husbands and could not seek justice without their permission or support.

With its gritty visuals and brutal battle scenes, legendary director Ridley Scott delivers a compelling and thought-provoking drama, driven home by its outstanding cast.

Maria Duarte
In cinemas October 15

The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao (18)
Directed by Karim Ainouz
★★★★

THE death of a youthful innocent collides head-on with familial tragedy in this overwrought but moving effort from O Sol na Cabeca helmer Karim Ainouz, the Brazilian director taking us back to the 1950s with on-screen siblings Carol Duarte and Julia Stockler to witness The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao.

Euridice is the aspiring pianist, sister Guida the foolish romantic, both destined for a life of heartbreak and regret thanks to the crushing machinations of their all-consuming patriarchy.

An adaptation of Martha Batalha’s 2016 novel, there’s a lot of potential made good in this stirring sisterly drama which served as Brazil’s unsuccessful submission for Best International Feature in a year destined to be owned by Parasite.

Stockler and Duarte deliver crushing performances in a film driven by the heartbreak and unfulfilled intimacy of its female leads. A tad overlong, it’s a run time that at least comes with ample emotional heft.

Van Connor
In cinemas and on digital platforms October 15

 

Never Gonna Snow Again (15)
Directed by Małgorzata Szumowska
★★★

A MYSTERIOUS masseur from the east arrives at a wealthy, gated community in Poland, where he provides solace with a supernatural twist in this truly bizarre satirical drama by Malgorzata Szumowska.

Alec Utgoff is totally mesmerising as Zhenia the massage whisperer, a Russian-speaking immigrant who gets his rich, racist, lonely, sex-mad and dog-obsessed clients in touch with their inner spirituality by transporting them to a special secluded place.

While they are out for the count he explores their homes and bursts into ballet moves. When he brings them back to reality their fears, insecurities and loneliness are abated.

It is frankly a bonkers yet haunting film, but I guess with everything that is going on, as well as the planet going to pot, we can all do with a Zhenia right now.

MD
In cinemas October 15

 

Halloween Kills (18)
Directed by David Gordon Green
★★

GIVEN the praise heaped on 2018’s surprisingly solid Halloween sequel, it’s rather on-brand for the franchise to follow that return with an absolute whimper — a whimper being all fans are in for with this lifeless first half of two-part finale, Halloween Kills.

Taking an abandoned page from the hellfire that was Alien 3, series star Jamie Lee Curtis takes a nap for most of this direct sequel, in which the residents of legendary killer Michael Myers’s hometown decide enough is finally enough and mob up to take back the night.

But while 2018’s revival at least understood and desired to define its sandbox, Halloween Kills seems content instead to simply meander in it — lacklustre storytelling and little investment see characters learn the same revelations several times over and achieve nothing bar setting up another slasher sequel, the good will for which this one may well have squandered.

VC
In cinemas October 15

Ron’s Gone Wrong (PG)
Directed by Sarah Smith, Jean-Philippe Vine and Octavio E Rodriguez
★★★★

THE perils of social media and data mining form the backdrop of the exceedingly sweet and charming story of Barney (Jack Dylan Grazer), a socially awkward schoolboy, and his flawed new digital device known as a Bubble Bot — the latest tech craze.

As soon as it’s out of the box it is supposed to know everything about you by scanning your digital footprint, thus becoming your best friend and connecting you to all other B*Bot owners.

Unfortunately Barney’s device, Ron (Zach Galifianakis), is damaged and malfunctioning — Barney’s father (Ed Helms) got him off the back of a lorry. Thus mayhem and social media chaos ensue.

Ron, who has a passing resemblance to Eve from WALL.E, is absolutely adorable but not so Barney’s classmates, who make Barney’s life hell because he is a loner and doesn’t live his life online.

They are addicted to posting videos on Instagram and YouTube, assessing others’ popularity by the number of followers they have. Every parent’s nightmare, I’m sure.

However, this is ultimately a film about the importance of forming real-life friendships as opposed to virtual ones. Who can argue with that?

MD
In cinemas October 15

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