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Cinema Film round-up: March 28, 2024

Maternal horror-show, valedictory recital, anger issues, and Kong-scale toothache: The Star's critic MARIA DUARTE reviews Mother’s Instinct, Ryuichi Sakamoto: Opus, Silver Haze, and Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire

Mothers’ Instinct (15)
Directed by Benoit Delhomme

★★★★

 

 
THE darker side of maternal love is explored in this deliciously disturbing and twisted psychological thriller and directorial debut by acclaimed French cinematographer Benoit Delhomme. 
 
It is a remake of the 2018 Belgian film Duelles and is based on Barbara Abel’s novel Behind the Hatred and adapted by Sarah Conradt. 
 
Set in the 1960s it centres on the lives of two housewives who are best friends and neighbours. When one of their sons dies in a tragic accident it upends their world and their friendship. Paranoia, guilt and grief sets in and the drama takes a surprising turn. 
 
Academy Award winners Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain deliver outstanding performances as Celine and Alice who turn from BFFs to enemies. It is a seamless masterclass in acting. Could they be the new Bette Davis and Joan Crawford double act on the big screen? Meanwhile Josh Charles and Anders Danielsen Lie play their loving husbands who take a backseat to the two women. 
 
Slick and exquisitely stylish, the film examines the consequences of loss and bereavement taken to extreme and frankly ridiculous ends. But Hathaway and Chastain sell it brilliantly. And Delhomme does a sterling job directing this gripping drama by winding up the tension slowly and exponentially. 
 
The end result is a very powerful and completely engrossing horror show.
 

Out in cinemas on Friday
 
 
Ryuichi Sakamoto: Opus (U)
Directed by Neo Sora

★★★★

 

 
ON the first anniversary of his death the life and work of Oscar-winning Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto is commemorated in this haunting and unique film directed by his son Neo Sora. 
 
Sakamoto is renowned for his film scores, especially Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence which made him world famous, and The Last Emperor for which he won the Academy Award. 
 
Despite suffering from cancer, he mustered all his strength in late 2022 to give a final performance in front of the camera in which it was just him and his piano. 
 
Shot in black and white from numerous artistic angles, he performs twenty pieces which he chose and curated himself and which depict his career through his music. 
 
It is very intimate and incredibly moving as Sakamoto bares his soul. It is a remarkable feat, given his health, though at times the weariness and the fatigue begin to show, which is heartbreaking to see. 
 
Ending on the close up of an empty piano, it is a poignant reminder of an extraordinary artist that the world has lost but whose legacy lives on. 

Out in cinemas on Friday

Silver Haze (15)
Directed by Sacha Polak

★★★

 

 
FILMMAKER Sacha Polak reunites with Vicky Knight for this raw and emotionally charged drama depicting working-class life in Britain.  
 
It is loosely based on Knight’s (Dirty God) own experience surviving arson as a child. Her real-life sister plays her on-screen sibling. 
 
It follows 23-year-old NHS nurse Franky (Knight) who is still traumatised by the pub fire in which she was badly burnt and almost died when she was eight. Shortly afterwards, her father ran off with his mistress and started a new family with her. Fifteen years later Franky is still seeking revenge as she tracks him down. 
 
She becomes romantically involved with one of her patients Florence (Esme Creed-Miles) and stays with her and her supportive and open-minded family, who live in a coastal town. 
 
This is a powerful and complex drama about a woman with anger issues, who has to be strong for her troubled mother and siblings in London’s East End, who rely on her while she needs nurturing and help herself. She only finds peace and solace with Florence’s guardian Alice (Angela Bruce). 
 
It’s both moving and thought-provoking. 

Out in cinemas on Friday

 

Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire (12A)
Directed by Adam Wingard

★★★

 

 
GODZILLA and the mighty Kong finally team up to fight a greater enemy in this umpteenth sequel (frankly, I have lost count or care) which was better than expected. 
 
At the start Kong’s greatest agony is that of a broken tooth. I shared his pain, suffering a split tooth which hurt like a bitch throughout the film. While Dan Stevens abseiled in to extract and replace Kong’s incisor I have to wait until next Wednesday for my root canal. 
 
Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry and Kaylee Hottle return minus Millie Bobby Brown for this latest chapter, directed again by Adam Wingard. It features monsters galore to the delight of a very dear young friend and massive Godzilla fan, though this film is more Kong heavy as Godzilla only takes centre stage in the final act. 
 
It contains some great visual gags — one involving a mini Kong — but lengthy expositions. 
 
Fun but painful. 

Out in cinemas on Friday

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