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Cinema Film round-up: April 18, 2024

Vegan sermons, undercut snobs, fake messiahs and mash-up horror. The Star's critic MARIA DUARTE reviews I Could Never Go Vegan, Jeanne Du Barry, The Book of Clarence, and Abigail

I Could Never Go Vegan (12A)
Directed by Thomas Pickering
★★★

 
FILM-MAKER Thomas Pickering, who has never eaten meat in his life, embarks on a fact-finding mission to investigate people’s reasons and concerns as to why they could never go vegan. 

These include lack of protein, being malnourished, and their love of bacon and cheese. The same old arguments that his mother was confronted with when she decided to stop eating meat back in the 1980s, as she informs him. 

Pickering interviews health experts as well as vegan athletes and ordinary people doing extraordinary things such as 86-year-old Paul Youd, an ultramarathon runner who didn’t begin running until he was 82.

He stopped consuming meat and dairy products when he was in his early sixties and is now aiming to complete a million press-ups before he is 90. 

Using humour and inspiring stories as well as expert testimony, Pickering debunks meat-eaters’ objections before showing harrowing undercover footage at a farm of how pigs are treated and horrendous shots at a slaughterhouse of animals being killed inhumanely. They are very tough to watch. 

The film, directed by Pickering and co-written with his brother James who also produced it, examines how animal farming is destroying the planet, and turning to a completely plant-based diet is the only way to save it, which isn’t a new revelation.  

However, although this documentary isn’t groundbreaking, it does provide much food for thought and a spring board for further debate and action. Sadly, I could never go vegan due to my dislike of most pulses, plants and vegetables.

Out in cinemas on Friday.

 

Jeanne Du Barry (15)
Directed by Maiwenn

★★★

 

 
THIS luscious and captivating costume drama recounts the rise and fall of King Louis XV’s last official mistress, Jeanne du Barry. 

It tells the fascinating story of an illegitimate daughter from a working-class background who climbed the social ladder to become one of the most renowned courtesans of her day. 

Co-written, directed, produced and starring Maiwenn in the leading role opposite Johnny Depp as the King of France, this is an exquisitely shot and beautifully acted drama. Depp impresses by speaking in French, although it is his long-drawn-out looks that speak volumes. 

The film explores the political machinations and snobbishness of the French court — particularly members of the royal family — and how they looked down on Jeanne’s background and upbringing while she took them all on. 

It is a tale of love and survival at heart, that ends when most of them lost their heads. 

Out in cinemas on Friday.

The Book of Clarence (15)
Directed by Jeymes Samuel 

★★

 

 
AFTER his revisionist Western, The Harder They Fall, writer-director Jeymes Samuel returns with a bizarre biblical epic which is inspired by the religious dramas of the 1950s and features a star-studded black cast. 

Set in Jerusalem in 33AD, it follows the story of the hapless Clarence (LaKeith Stanfield) who, desperate to pay off his debt to local gangster Jedediah the Terrible (Eric Kofi Abrefa), decides to cash in on Jesus’s (Nicholas Pinnock) notoriety as the Messiah. Pretending to create miracles, he swindles people out of their cash declaring himself as a new Messiah, which they fall for although he doesn’t believe in God. 

This film is uneven in tone as it doesn’t quite decide whether to play it for laughs or heartstrings. In terms of religious satire it cannot beat Monty Python’s Life of Brian. 

However Stanfield delivers a knockout performance alongside memorable turns from David Oyelowo as a surreal John the Baptist, Omar Sy as Barabbas, James McAvoy as Pontius Pilate and Benedict Cumberbatch as a filthy beggar. 

Out in cinemas on Friday.

 

Abigail (18)
Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett

★★★★

 

 
FROM the directors of Ready or Not comes a deliciously entertaining mash-up horror with a wonderful twist — as long as you don’t watch the trailer!

The less you know going in the better you will enjoy it. 

It follows a team of strangers led by Dan Stevens who are hired to kidnap the ballerina daughter (an impressive Alisha Weir, Matilda) of a powerful underworld figure. However, when they retreat to an isolated mansion with their young drugged charge they discover they have bitten off more than they can chew. She is no ordinary innocent child. 

While Ready or Not was about rich privileged greedy capitalists, this film is about blood-sucking criminals. It is one bloody, violent, hair-raising, joyous ride. 

Out in cinemas Friday.

 

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