Blue Jasmine – Talent Never Dies



Blue Jasmine
Perdido Productions, US
98 Min
UK Release: 27th September, 2013

DIR Woody Allen
EXEC Leroy Schecter, Adam B. Stern, Jack Rollins
PROD Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum, Edward Walson
SCR Woody Allen
DP Javier Aguirresarobe
CAST Cate Blanchett, Sally Hawkins, Alec Baldwin, Bobby Cannavale, Peter Sarsgaard, Louis C.K., Andrew Dice Clay,Michael Stuhlbarg, Max Casella, Alden Ehrenreich, Tammy Blanchard

Woody Allen is at his finest with Blue Jasmine. Many were disappointed with To Rome with Love last year, as they expected big things from a follow up of the runaway success Midnight in Paris. Blue Jasmine might just be what fans were expecting. It reminds us of Allen’s seemingly infinite capabilities to make great films – 49 so far!

Allen may be on form as a director, he plays the narrative back and forth to great effect, but it is Cate Blanchet’s sterling performance as Jasmine – the socialite fugitive – that blew my mind. She is a character fuelled by excessive amounts of vodka and Xanax, horrified to be stuck inside her body and corrupting life; she is a train-wreck on legs. Of course, this may all sound drastically over the top and exhausting, but Blanchet pulls it together with immanent perfection and knocks me for six.

After being married to a bourgeois lifestyle through her slimy husband, Hal (played adequately by Alec Baldwin), a crook powered by investment, Jasmine embarks on a new life residing with her sister, Ginger, in the pits of San Francisco. Sally Hawkins gives a marvelous performance as Ginger, who works at a grocery store and lives a second-rate life, getting ramshackled by shady men; this is how Jasmine views it at least, hence the divergence between the two ‘sisters’.


Allen’s script is impeccably sharp, weaving in an array of pessimistic thoughts and people around Jasmine; nothing is left unaccounted for. Jasmine struggles to deal with Ginger’s current boyfriend and the thought of going near his ‘mate’, who is eager to get friendly (wink, wink). It is painful to watch her attempt to come to terms with working-class life, having to work as a receptionist for a dentist who, to say the least, has some troubles of his own. Then, a rich, voguish man who falls acutely in love with Jasmine lures her in. His high hopes are to be devastated by consequences of Jasmine’s instabilities and lies. Meanwhile, Ginger is off on her own adventures, once again leading to misfortune. It’s a glamorous series of dismay for nearly all Allen’s characters in this melancholy script.

The film has less humor than Allen’s previous. Indeed, some may find the film too abrasive, and consequently may struggle to find empathy in any of the characters. However, Jasmine is so harrowingly tangible, you’d have to be inhuman not to find any compassion hidden away. This said, Bobby Cannavale, as Chili, Ginger’s apprehensive boyfriend, is occasionally apathetic and brings some form of levity to scenes that would otherwise be screaming with domestic perplexity.

Blue Jasmine is full of characters making the wrong decisions. It’s Streetcar Named Desire terrain as the domestics pile up. It is flawless, in a catastrophic and unforgiving way. Maybe these aren’t the themes people were expecting but that’s just unfortunate. Nevertheless, this is still a very entertaining film, and a beautiful one at that.

5 stars!


This short film from Sundance puts you at KNIFE POINT

I’m not usually keen on short horror films, but this film absolutely nails the genre to a pole.

There is a creepy presence throughout the film, you’re never sure what’s going to happen next. It’s an awkward, warped type of suspense, which will leave you at a knife’s edge where insanity looms.

This film is worth your time, it has cinematic roots and a dark, moody undertone (beautifully shot by Chris Dapkins). It is slow, but anything from formulaic.

The film is directed by Carlo Mirabella-Davis who is currently working on his debut feature (more info).

Other cool shorts I watched this week:

Cargo – Another horror film that defies popular convention. It somehow manages to put empathy and human nature into a zomblie flick – watch it online here.

Wretched – A gritty drama acting out the dark trappings of drug addiction and relationship insecurities – watch it online here.


The Limelight Index: David Anthony Thomas – Writer/Director/Actor


David Anthony Thomas is a filmmaker from Newcastle. He is currently in the process of embarking on a feature length project. I was lucky enough to catch up with him and ask a few questions about what got him where he is now, what to expect and his interests as a filmmaker.

David, as a writer, director and actor, what first sparked off your real interest in filmmaking?

I don’t come from an arty family, and it’s really bizarre that for as long as I remember I always wanted to work in the arts. I decided I would be an actor from a young age when others at school still all wanted to be firemen or ballerinas. I’ve been acting since I was 8 years old and doing it professionally since I was 10. I started off by working in theatre and I learnt so much working with and in such close proximity to some of the all-time great directors like Greg Doran. I started doing film and TV a few years later and began fall in love with filmmaking. I eventually made the move behind the camera and it seems to have turned out well.

Who are your influences?

I’ve loved Joe Wright’s work since Pride and Prejudice and I also love the old Ealing films. I’m a huge fan of British cinema and British characters, British stories and British history are always at the forefront of my mind when I write, because I think it’s important that our culture reflects our identity. However I’ve always thought I’ve been more inspired by authors and playwrights than by filmmakers, and perhaps this is why we do things a bit differently.

Your main body of work is in period dramas, what attracted you to this particular genre?

It has to be working for so long in theatre. Working with the RSC early on opened the door to the possibility of setting something in different eras, as it’s somewhat easier to pull off in the theatre. I grew up thinking “Why should cinema be different? Why should everything we make be set here and now?” Most people make the transition to that way of thinking later on, but the assumption that everything should be in a contemporary setting because it’s easier to make is just laziness to me when there are so many great untold stories still out there. Solitary Trees, for example, is set in 1940, but it’s still a very modern film about the role the press plays in British politics. The historical aspect just gives it a new angle.


The Brontes, will be your debut feature film, how did this project all start?

I did a location scout up on the moors outside of Haworth when a film I shot called Love Thy Neighbour was screening at the Bradford International Film Festival. That film eventually became The Business of the Day that was screened at Cannes and Cyprus, but it was actually during the shoot that suddenly everything just hit me: I saw everything and realised that this needed to be done. I swear that the Brontes drew me there and wanted me to tell their story because of the suddenness and intensity of it, I’ve never experienced anything like it before. I kept going back up to the moors throughout the development and pre-production of Solitary Trees and getting a bit more every time, and I’d always have my notebook so I could just sit and write it all down by hand – I never do that but the words just kept flowing.

Do you find it a big risk taking on a biographical project of this nature? How much of your own creative input will there be in the story?

Not really, no. Challenging, but certainly not risky. I know the Brontes and all of their works through and through. We’re collaborating with anyone we can find with specialist knowledge on the subject and we’ve got a fantastic, world-beating team together. It would be dangerous to be arrogant about it and project anything I want to put across in a film using the Brontes as my characters, not to mention completely inappropriate. It’s about letting them tell their own story through the medium of film. It’s about the empowerment of women, about social issues and identity, so to an extent I understand my role is as much of an editor as a writer, using their own words and works where I can to piece together a strong narrative about their lives. When I look at it as a director, I then feel the freedom to tell the story knowing that the script is there and will keep me in check.


Can we expect any prominent names, cast or crew, from the independent circuit to be cast?

Definitely, and likely from the studio circuit too.

Can we look forward to any important dates for the movies future?

The only date that we’ve revealed so far is Charlotte Bronte’s 200th birthday in April 2016. We’re planning something really big for it and that will be the film’s official unveiling.

Finally, can you give any parting advice for young filmmakers on the industry?

I can tell you that working in theatre, film and television is a lifestyle, not a job. I can tell you it’s one of the most rewarding lives to lead but it can also be incredibly tough, and most people don’t think of that going into it. Make sure you’re in it for the right reasons and treat your contemporaries like collaborators, not competition. You’re all in it together and you’re in it for the long hall so you can definitely benefit from helping each other out.

Never use the excuse that you’re “just” a student or “just starting out” to allow for mistakes or corners to be cut. If you’re calling yourself a director you should act and behave like one and you should maintain high standards and ask the same of your crew. Raising a budget to at least feed them, pay expenses and getting some quality equipment may not seem like much but it certainly makes a statement of intent and often your cast will give you that little bit more. Look after your cast and crew and they’ll look after you.

Also most young filmmakers, it seems like, make the same film over and over again. If you’ve seen a film about drugs, Facebook or dating in your film school or on your course for the past three years running, you should probably think about making something else. No festival selection committee will care that you insist yours is the better project because they’ve been told it all before. An understanding of your audience and your platform for exhibition is vital.

Thank you David.

There’s a lot to learn here. I particularly like what David said about culture reflecting our identity and treating your contemporaries as collaberators and not competition. Everyone should support each others work positively, after all how will the industry ever thrive if we’re not all in it together? David has definitely made a strong statement by delving away from common contemporary themes like drugs and the internet (as he mentions), and it has definitely worked for him and made a strong impact. Try and be different, it appears one of the few ways (or dare I say only) to make a stand in this industry.

Find David on IMDB here.

You can support his current projects on Facebook: Solitary Trees and The Brontes


The Call – Should you take it?


Probably not…

Brad Anderson’s The Call is a cluttered B-thriller with a tight clasp, but very little personality.

Anderson’s The Machinist was an incredible divergence into the mind of the insomniac male (executed to sincere perfection by Christian Bale). It was a chilling ride, one that continued out of the cinema door and infiltrated your dreams. However, with Anderson’s The Call, we are sent on an intense and suspenseful adventure, only to be gatecrashed of everything fresh and intriguing in the third act.

The Call takes us into the high-stakes world of an LA 911 operator. This proves to be an interesting insight, as the emergency call centre setting isn’t something I can recall being explored much in film. It is totally immersive. Thus, the film gets off to a flying start. Halle Berry’s resourcefulness is tested after a terrified young woman (Abigail Breslin) phones from the trunk of the car of a serial killer who’s just kidnapped her. This is an edge of your seat premise. D’Ovidio was onto something here, a classic crime thriller could have been crafted from the elements laid forth – this wasn’t to be acknowledged by Anderson or D’Ovidio (where is David Fincher when you need him?)

It appears that most of Berry’s life is spent behind her desk in “the hive” as co-workers call it – this also happens to be where most the movie is set. It is a work-centric environment and even one that her handsome LAPD officer boyfriend (Morris Chestnut) is part of. It therefore has far greater impact when Berry can’t handle work anymore, as she blames herself for a misstep. This misstep condemns a teenage girl to be summoned to a shallow grave; Berry consequently joins the workforce training new operators instead. However, this is short-lived when, six months later, the veteran reluctantly takes over a call as the young operator couldn’t handle the pressure. This call comes from the girl (Abigail Breslin) who is locked in the trunk of the car.


Once it is evident the car boot has a shovel in it, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that the kidnapper is the same one from six months earlier. You can predict that things will get personal for Berry, in fact very personal, as the realization causes Berry to almost self-destruct.

The serial killer is offbeat, as one might expect, but Michael Eklund plays a twitchy, restless killer who looks as though he may have dropped some acid before each take. Eklund’s character is easily spooked and seems highly unprepared. This had me puzzled because he had a grand underground lair devoted to torturing young blonde teens – a little confusing for such a chaotic man.

The entire premise wouldn’t work without the fact that Breslin is calling from a cheap, pay-as-you-go, disposable mobile. Unlikely in an era where nearly everyone owns a Blackberry, Samsung or iPhone. Berry, therefore, can’t trace the phone and of course Breslin has no idea where she is. This makes for a nice cat and mouse chase. Unfortunately, form and imagination are clearly lacking throughout the belated chase sequence. The premise offers great opportunity for a claustrophobic and tense atmosphere, there are hints of this but everything quickly becomes flat. As you can imagine, endless shots of Berry yelling into her headset become tiresome and the action cuts seem rather wonky and disordered.

Eventually, the movie betrays its premise, a premise that could have been far more ingenious. Perhaps, Anderson realized it was time to go back to his roots and delve into a grindhouse style rape-revenge movie, with floods of horror. It sees Berry miraculously leave “the hive” and go on a solo mission to find Breslin herself. It seems dumb, and it really is dumb, but Anderson is now doing what he’s good at: creating oppressive atmospheres and orchestrating opaque horror. Of course, this third act concludes as unquestionably puerile and the resolution is left hanging thin in the air – and not in an indulging way. I was just left thinking: “After all that trouble, why the hell would they do that?”

All in all, this movie will summon you, but then dump you in a trench and maybe lift you back out again, but only half way.

It’s a tattered 3 stars for Anderson’s efforts and Berry’s slightly improved performance from a career of washouts (The Flinstones, Gothika, Catwoman, Movie 43 etc).


The Family – The Manzoni’s need a chill pill


In most mob films it’s evident philosophy that the gangsters try to maintain some distance between family life and business. This is not so with the Manzoni’s, they are a mob, and they all feed off each other’s mishaps.

It’s refreshing to see Robert de Niro at home in playing Giovanni Manzoni (a great gangster name, by the way) as he blunders around, in contradiction of the witness protection restraining orders in place on the family, condemning trivial enemies to savage beatings with various tools (a sledgehammer and baseball bat, to name a few). It’s a reminder of why we thought of him as so great in the first place: De Niro is capable of honest warmth and love for his family whilst, at the same time, holding at bay his psychopathic tendencies which we’re always subliminally aware of. Michelle Pfeiffer, who plays Maggie, the wife, gets to toy with a role she has so perfectly executed in the past (Scarface, Married to the Mob) after a recovery of working sparingly for over a decade. Not to mention that she still looks amazing and manages to pull of a likable character, even though she has committed so many sins that even the priest is shocked and henceforth refuses her presence at the church. It’s a wonderful mix.

Another veteran in the mix is Tommy Lee Jones, who plays Stansfield, the main man assigned to overlooking the Manzoni’s case. Jones is his usual deadpan perfect self and has a few moments of invaluable countenance appearing next to De Niro. Stansfield is indeed given a hard time trying to keep the Manzoni’s at bay!

Luc Besson approaches the subject in a refreshing, witty and light nature. Despite mixed reviews, The Family is no different from Besson’s entertaining and chic approach, held across the board of his filmography, from Nikita to The Lady. He is not afraid of big, flashy action sequences, when the story demands it, but when he takes this direction he does so with a pleasant dose of over-the-top humour and a flair comparable to Tarantino. Although in this film, not meant to be seen entirely as a farce comedy, Besson doesn’t shy away from various in-jokes and occasional moments of sporadic tongue-in-check moments; moments I actually laughed at.


Giovanni’s previous life is brought to attention when we see snippets of a previous mobster gang stewing in a rather luxurious prison cell – a refrigerator, music, and jail guards acting as servants? No doubt, Giovanni ratted out this gang, hence his current position under a witness protection plan in Normandy, France, and the gang being obsessed to find the Manzoni’s and literally blow them off the face of the Earth.

The way in which the Manzoni’s cover is blown is unequivocally whimsical and daft. It’s one of the many lunatic moments in this movie, others include: Maggie blowing up a French supermarket for not stocking peanut butter, Belle (the daughter) blooding the face of a creep with a tennis racket and Warren (the son) constructing a coalition to deliver vicious payback on bullies. This isn’t great cinema but it’s certainly good fun.

It’s not all fun however, some subplots just don’t work – whether this was intentional, I’m not sure. For example, Belle’s romance with the Math teacher, her despair over the fact he was the love of her life, and the families offbeat relationship with the Feds across the street. Giovanni’s attempts at being a writer also seem a little discharged and despondent.

A fantastic in-joke worth noting is when Giovanni is asked to perform a debate on an American classic at the local film society. Ironically the film that ended up screening was Scorsese’s Goodfellas – Giovanni’s typecasting on the film is a gigantic triumph with the residents who all stand up in astonishing applause.

To sum up, The Family is a deliberately eccentric, chirpy, violent and hit or miss film with just enough moments of inspiration to permit a recommendation. Be prepared for weird, different, but good.

3 stars.


Anamnesis – The ability to hold in the mind

Anamnesis basically means being able to hold memories in ones mind – it is the definition of memory. This film however is a metaphor for the inability of anamnesis – it is a metaphor for distorted memories.

My intention of this mini project was to explore memories via the medium of film. In this case, the staggered edits suggest remembrance is mislaid and the cycle of motion in the camera advocates that amnesia is boundless. Our memories are, no doubt, a monotonous foundation of deterioration.

In simpler terms, this short film attempts to showcase, in a lucidly abstract form, what existence might be like for someone with Alzheimer’s disease.

Alternatively, the film can be interpreted as representing a facile dream state, which is being played on rotation.

You might be wondering what or who my influences are for this project. These influences are simply embedded in the boundless abilities of the camera and this cosmic medium we call film. However, I could cite filmmakers: Stan Brakhage, Kenneth Anger and David Lynch as being influential players. Besides this, I also have a strong interest in mental health and it’s complexity – in this respect psychology correlates to the medium of film. So, expect more experimentally driven treats from me in the future.

Watch the film below:

Don’t miss my other work: my films.


What a Rush!


Riveting, thrilling, heart-wrenching, captivating, inspiring – these are all ways to describe Ron Howard’s Rush.

Before I dig deeper into this review, you must realize that I consider myself anything but a Formula One fan, plus, being born in 1994 really doesn’t contribute to my understanding of what really happened between these two great drivers in 1976. My principal point here is that despite my lack of knowledge and expectations, the film blew me away. It was so gratifying that I find myself sitting here writing a review of applause for a film that I nearly disregarded.

With Rush, Ron Howard and his implausible crew have reached out to a far wider audience then the petrol heads that I presume are Formula One fans. Lets hope their not annoyed by this! To be honest, if I was around in the 70s I might have actually been a fan if the rush of the sport was anything like depicted here (the mind-blowing British documentary Senna does justice to this notion also). Rush is alive with a profound and moving story. It is ultimately a film about two charismatic heroes; it playfully allows the viewer to either commiserate with the eccentric playboy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) or the critical hermit Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl), or both. It is this interpersonal freedom that truly spellbound me to the picture.

On the track, the relationship between the two drivers is always explosive as they battle it out for the 1976 World Championships. These race scenes may be cinematically astounding and hold their own prodigious narrative, but it is the contrasting lives and philosophies off these two characters which really act as a significant counterpart to driving this story. The film winds itself into an epic, possibly overpitched, biopic drama of these two notorious drivers.


What’s more, the casting of these two characters plays out to perfection. Chris Hemsworth is effortless and uncanny in his portrayal of James Hunt, capturing Hunt’s wide smile, frivolous hair and amiable behaviors. However, you could argue that Hemsworth is never entirely called upon to examine the obvious inner demons of a man who constantly chases thrill and pleasure would have. Hunt, seemingly never allows himself actual happiness. Consequently Olivia Wilde’s role as Hunt’s first wife Suzy Miller is unexploited, the great accumulation and subsequent breakdown of this relationship is never explored in any fulfilling detail. On the other hand, Lauda, engrossingly played by Buhr has more depth added into his romantic subplot. Lauda’s eventual wife Marlene Knaus (Alexandra Maria Lara) even has the power to subdue his almost maliciously, stubbornly cold exterior (“If I’m going to do this with anyone,” he tells her on their wedding day, “it might as well be you.”) Yet at the same time she brings natural love upon a man who believes “happiness is an enemy.” Hunt may have attracted more attention from the media (had sex with more women, taken more drugs, drank more alcohol), but it is Lauda who comes off as the ominously more fascinating and complex figure.

This complexity of Lauda’s character is a “European perspective” says Ron Howard during an interview on the Film 4 Programme. Whereas he implies the Americans prefer Hunt – he fits the American hero driven creed far better than Lauda who is just an intellectual dud. Though, Europeans could argue that Lauda is the hero for tolerating defeat in a tranquil fashion. That would be my argument. The societal divide couldn’t be clearer between the two. Lets look at the realities: The Germans undoubtedly make the best cars!

Howard goes on to say he was drawn by the “cinematic opportunities” and the “fantastic characters” offered by the story. His outlooks were remarkably achieved. These ‘fantastic characters’ offered Howard the chance to explore deeper into psychological aspects, hence Lauda’s complexity and Hunts irate state of mind. Hunts “shagalicious” tendencies were actually toned down in the process of making the film said Howard; even though there were clear scenes of Hunt malevolently partaking in the act on a plane and in a hospital ward. I can’t help but wonder how voluptuous this man really was?

There were moments that I actually found myself actually frightened by this film (not the sex scenes – the race scenes). The atmosphere of the race scenes were incredibly vivid and intense; Anthony Dod Mantle’s cinematography is spectacular, weaving his camera, what appears effortlessly, in and out of close-up action, putting us up alongside the wheels, under the steering and even inside the drivers helmet. This stunning cinematography, alongside astonishing sound design (that will relentlessly bombard your ears) and Hans Zimmer’s electrifying score would be transfixing enough to get even a snail recoiling on the edge of its seat. Never has watching Formula One been so exciting – I felt like I was actually smelling the petrol fumes coming off those Formula One cars of the late 70s, which are somehow made to look admirable under Mantle’s lens.

Although the film is packed with American talent – Ron Howard for a start – the film is technically a British independent film. Producer, Andrew Eaton, claims the film was independently financed outside of the studio system – half private investors and half pre-sales of which were sourced within the UK (the film was also shot in the UK). This is a great achievement for British cinema (if you can count it that when the director is American), but let it be known! Our industry is too subtle with our achievement and always has been. Eaton says himself that the “British lack faith in our history,” and claims our “richer culture” is a reason why British cinema is so often surpassed. Indeed this is the European way and has been ever since that night in Paris on December 28th 1895. The situation is elucidated perfectly in David Puttnam’s book ‘The Undeclared War’, but I digress…

Rush might just be the best movie out so far this year. It’s definitely a nice surprise and a breath of fresh air for mainstream contemporary cinema, or rather British cinema!

4 whopping stars for Rush.


We’re The Millers – I laughed in the Outtakes


We’re the Millers is one of those distinctly predictable road trip stories with a foreseeable plot and a script that is being asked for a sharpening. However, in a summer that has delivered such comedic miscarriages as Grown Ups 2 and The Hangover Part III, We’re the Millers could essentially be observed as a somewhat desirable reprieve.

This lowbrow comedy is permeated with crude jokes and bad language for easy laughs. However, this intention does not work in the films favour, rather the nonconformist casting adds an unexpected conception of innocence in scenes that could otherwise be offensive. That is not to say there is much about We’re The Millers that is in good taste, in fact, it’s pretty tasteless apart from occasional bundles of sweet-natured sentimentality – though this sentiment is, indeed, still rather cheap.

I get the feeling, director Rawson Marshall Thurber (celebrated for Dodgeball) sat down with his four screenwriters, shared a few beers, and formulated the wildest characters in the most bizarre situations. But, these characters are utterly flawed; I certainly had difficulty in believing that, good guy, Jason Sudeikis (playing David) is a veteran drug dealer, or that Jennifer Aniston (playing Rose) is a stripper. We are even lucky enough to see Anniston on the job, with indications that are no doubt meant to be tormenting but look utterly contrived and unconvincing. Though, in fairness, there is a hint that, underneath it all, they are designed to be misunderstood characters – after all, Aniston quits her job when the rules change and she learns strippers must have sex with their clients. She even ends up with a happy ‘family’ come the end of the film.

My few laughs came from rudimentary scenes that were pulled off as harmless fun. The scenes in which an experimenting lesbian fondles Jennifer Aniston’s breasts and a monster spider bites Will Poulter’s testicles, offer some injudicious chortles. The film unfortunately carries its exact potential – an inane Hollywood prototypical tale about drugs, sex and family – with a foreseeable and polished ending. However, then the outtakes appear and I find myself suddenly awakened and laughing; in particular the end outtake with the Friends theme tune “I’ll be there for you”. This was fresh and atypically pleasing on Anniston’s character – if only the whole film mirrored this moment.

Will Poulter (Kenny) steals the show for me and, not far behind is Julia Roberts’ daughter, Emma Roberts (Kasey). It is a play-off between a geeky recluse and an all too streetwise kid. Poulter prospers as a nerd; the scene involving a kissing lesson with his ‘sister’ and ‘mum’ is particularly impressive, the facial expressions are not to be missed. Sudeikis’s character does also manage to expose a few laughs in relation to references from Meryl Streep to Oprah Winfrey.

Though the narrative is exasperatingly meek, there is still some inconsistency. For example, it appears David and Rose are suddenly worrying a great deal about the decisions that Kenny and particularly Kasey are making when, the scene before, they couldn’t have cared less about acting like parents. I think a scene showing how David and Rose came to care for Kenny and Kasey must have been misplaced in the editing process.

All in all, don’t expect any life changing lessons from this buoyant, down-market comedy, but you may cope with an overworked laugh or two.

It’s 2 stars from me, although We’re the Millers wasn’t too far off scraping a commonplace 3.


A Beautiful Film, a Special Day, and the Perfect Cinema


My girlfriend and I had a wonderful day out for our first year anniversary, which was to be concluded with a trip to the cinema after a romantic dinner (also a very large dinner!). We headed for the Everyman cinema, a luxurious and substantially expensive picture house. It was, frankly, the most enjoyable cinema experience I’ve ever had. This, of course, is due to a number of things: the film, the cinema seats (sofas!), the screen, the sound, the date, the wine, the milk and white chocolate raisins, the vintage posters (which I later discovered to be just wall paper) and even the toilets (where each cubicle had its own hand dryer, soap, towels, art and mirror!).


So, everything was flawlessly in place, the day had gone really well, but now my anxiety was hanging entirely on Richard Curtis’ new film About Time. It would either make me wince and cringe throughout and I just wouldn’t be able to grasp the films nature, or I would love it. I was sure my girlfriend would love it either way; after all it is the man behind such triumphs as Notting Hill and Love Actually.

About Time trailer - video

So, for the review… Richard Curtis is close to his best with About Time, although he’s said it will be his last film as director. Tim (Domhnall Gleeson), our protagonist, is an anxious minded 21 year old who yearns unsuccessfully for girls. On Tim’s 21st birthday his Father (Bill Nighy) reveals their bizarre family ability to travel back in time, which Tim soon learns to use countless times in order to overcome his generally embarrassing mistakes. However, in the end, it is clear that mistakes don’t matter anymore to Tim, as he falls in love with the charming Mary (Rachel McAdams) who he can feel totally comfortable and natural with. It is raised again, the question of what true love really feels like and Curtis has depicted this brilliantly through Tim.

On the Film 4 Programme Richard Curtis says he “Spends a lot of time worrying about things that don’t happen.” This shows through Tim’s character. The theme here is, therefore, to try to live our lives without the worry of achievement and what might happen (easier said than done!) – the time travel is symbolic of this; it acts as a safeguard to anxiety. Curtis wants us to act naturally and cherish everyday as though it’s our last.

Of course, the film is full of Richard Curtis elements – his style is impeccable. His vision on the world stays parallel, as a snug instrument netted with love. There is a tremendous depth to the characters who are all infused with Hugh Grant channeled sparkle and witty dialogue. We are also greeted, once again, with the white, middle-class, though a large part of the film is actually set outside of London, in Cornwall. This setting is a refreshing element to the script, but one can get tired with the way the loafing middle-class are represented. Curtis says, “You have to write about things you know about” to ultimately write well. Richard Curtis was brought up a middle-class citizen, but I’m sure by now he has enough life experience to probe outside this tapered package.

“The simple things emerge as the most important,” says Bill Nighy in an interview. This seems another reference to not overthinking foundations of life and maintaining clearly led relationships; relationships are the most important aspect of life. The principle relationships in the film (Tim and Mary, Tim and his Father) are frankly heart wrenching, but at the same time deeply warming and vital to all the characters in the film. Mark Kermode describes the film as “a big warm hug.”

So, in conclusion, step lightly into this film, accept Richard Curtis’s aptitude and enjoy it. It is a film to change your life. It’s one step further to understanding love. It’s one step further to forgiveness and approving your actions. Go and see it. Also, if you get the chance, check out the Everyman cinemas too!

My problematic rating system:

Entertainment – 5

Craft – 3

Intellect – 3

Originality – 4

Score – 15 out of 20

4 stars for About Time