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CINEMA Film round-up

VAN CONNOR and MARIA DUARTE review The Other Lamb, Body of Water, Blood and Money, I Am Greta, Being a Human Person and Rebecca

The Other Lamb (18)
Directed by Malgorzata Szumowska
★★★★

MARTHA Marcy May Marlene meets The VVitch in this compelling ethereal tale of a teenage cult member. Tomorrowland’s Raffey Cassidy is the lead, with Game of Thrones alumnus Michiel Huisman taking on the requisite — and suitably creepy — cult-leader role.

Yet, as well as the pair serve Polish director Malgorzata Szumowska’s tale in front of the camera, they can’t quite match the true magic being conjured behind it. Cinematographer Michal Englert unleashes captivating and enthralling imagery, while composers Rafael Leloup and Pawel Mykietyn deliver a score that spectacularly segues from eerie and cool to simply outright terrifying.

There’s a dreamlike quality to Szumowska’s construction of The Other Lamb that wonderfully conveys the disturbing mindset of those depicted therein, with Cassidy proving herself yet again an impressive young talent to watch as she continues her spree of fascinating left-field projects.

VAN CONNOR

Body of Water (15)
Directed by Lucy Brydon
★★★

THIS quietly compelling drama sensitively depicts the effects of an eating disorder on three generations of women.

Inspired by her own experience, Lucy Brydon's impressive debut feature dispels the notion that anorexia only affects teenage girls.

The film centres on thirty-something acclaimed war photographer Stephanie (Sian Brooke) who, having completed yet another round of treatment for her chronic anorexia, is determined to reconnect with her mother (a fabulous Amanda Burton) and her angry 15-year-old daughter (Fabienne Piolini-Castle).

Although Stephanie works hard to stick to her eating plan and group therapy, her resolve soon begins to falter. She starts posting pictures of her emaciated body on line — a hard watch — and, receiving glowing comments, slowly returns to her old ways.

With a standout performance from Brooke, who lost significant weight for the role, and a fine supporting cast, the film explores the deception, betrayals and pain sparked by eating disorders in a frank and honest way.

MARIA DUARTE

Blood and Money (15)
Directed by John Barr
★★

DIRECTOR John Barr’s stark and strangely lifeless feature debut has Tom Berenger in the best role to come his way for nearly 30 years. A retired vet with the most cinematic of chesty coughs, his snowy annual hunting trip is cut short by a dead woman and a duffel full of cash.

A fortuitous discovery leads to a deadly game of cat-and-mouse when the would-be owners of said cash arrive to reclaim it.

With a deeply rooted sense of pontification wreaking havoc, Blood and Money stands vastly at odds with its survival-thriller aspirations.

Berenger’s great and Barr frames it up rather nicely directorially. But it’s ultimately a Movies4Men drama in M&S trappings.

VC

I Am Greta (12A)
Directed by Nathan Grossman
★★★★

NATHAN GROSSMAN'S compelling documentary provides an intimate and singular behind-the- scenes look at the journey of Greta Thunberg from shy 15-year-old schoolgirl to inspirational global environmentalist phenomenon.

Shot in cinema-verite style, Grossman began filming Thunberg from the moment she staged her first school strike for climate action all by herself outside the Swedish parliament in 2018 and then, with her family's support, he captured her meetings with world leaders, headline-making public appearances and global protests over the course of a year.

Her highs and lows outside of the media spotlight provide a poignant insight into this extraordinary young girl and the stresses and pressures she is under, including death threats. It is horrendous to witness the vile and hateful attacks on a child in social media and other outlets by politicians, pundits and climate-change deniers, including President Trump.

Told from her viewpoint and in her own words, what emerges is a portrait of a single-minded and well-informed young girl with Aspergers, who calls out the bullshit of hypocritical government leaders paying lip service to her and climate change. She demands that  they follow the science.

In a quiet moment, she asserts how nature is going to fight back either with heatwaves or disease. Cue the Covid pandemic, which proved her point on how governments could reduce emissions and pollution levels when they turned their minds and cash to it.

It's impossible not to respect this unwavering 17-year-old, who has single-handedly inspired a generation of young people to rise and be counted in her fight to save the planet.

There are special Q&A screening in cinemas nationwide on October 18, info: iamgreta.film/

MD

Being a Human Person (15)
Directed by Fred Scott
★★★★

THE BEST kind of biographical documentaries make no bones about tackling their subject’s darker elements and that's the case with Fred Scott’s fascinating look at the intended final work of Swedish film-maker Roy Andersson.

“Art is long, life is short,” Andersson himself tells us late on in Being A Human Person, which — whether you’re familiar with his sadistically satirical work or not — provides an incredible insight into the mind of the articulate jokester and how he draws inspiration and then develops it, lampoons it for all it’s worth and alcoholically self-medicates along the way.

Far from being preachy, it’s a sublimely crafted look at an auteur driven to whatever lengths he unapologetically feels are needed to get the job done. It's affectionately driven by Scott’s obvious admiration for his subject, yet the film never shies away from the obvious toll being taken.

A towering glimpse into the psychology of the cinematic craft.

VC

Carmilla (15)
Directed by Emily Harris
★★★

SET in a late-1700s of strict religious belief and moral codes, this coming-of-age tale explores the heady excitement of first love and female sexual awakening. At its heart is a complicated love story but is also an examination of how we tend to demonise strangers, those who are different to us and things beyond our understanding.

Based on Sheridan Le Fanu’s gothic novella of the same name, writer-director Emily Harris's debut feature concentrates on the blossoming relationship between the mysterious Carmilla (Devrim Lingnau) and the young and naive Lara (Hannah Rae), rather than the lesbian bloodsucking elements of Le Fanu’s work, believed to be one of the earliest examples of vampire fiction.

Lara’s every move and thought is monitored by her uber-controlling and religious governess Miss Fountaine (a stand out Jessica Raine) who insists on tying up Lara’s left arm because she is left- handed which is, of course, the work of the devil.

But, with the arrival of Carmilla, Lara starts to rebel and to explore her sexuality and newfound feelings. When the governess realises that she is losing her control over Lara she is overcome by jealousy and suspicion but she can’t stop first love.

The use of candlelight throughout gives the film an eerie and haunting quality, while the action is intercut with shots of disproportionately loud munching and moving insects which are bizarre, very distracting and which disrupt the rhythm and pace of this gothic romantic drama.

However Lingnau and Rae’s compelling performances, along with Raine who steals the film as the truly disturbing governess, are enough to keep you invested, although Greg Wise and Tobias Menzies are somewhat wasted in their all-too-brief appearances.

Rebecca (12A)
Directed by Ben Wheatley
★★★

ONE of the few British film-makers to garner mainstream international acclaim while still actually making exclusively British films, Ben Wheatley makes his feature Netflix debut with this impressive new adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s seminal gothic work.

Though the shadow of Hitchcock’s iconic 1940 adaptation understandably looms large, Wheatley brings his uniquely twisted stylistic sensibilities to this new iteration, which again chronicles a newlywed’s struggle in the shadow of her husband’s late wife’s disappearance.

Lily James and Armie Hammer — complete with stock British accent —  are Wheatley’s incarnation of the de Winters this time around, with the honour of Mrs Danvers falling to a surprisingly restrained Kristen Scott Thomas.

True to form, it’s in the nightmarish visuals that Wheatley shines, though outside of their introduction to the mix, there’s little else newly added to the classic tale.

In particular, Jane Goldman’s script is startlingly devoid of a spiky riposte or insightful penmanship. One suspects reverence for the source material being the cause but it nevertheless feels a shame to waste such talents both behind and in front of the camera on what ultimately feels like a cover version — albeit a very well-crafted one.

VC

 

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