Now showing at Everyman Winchester Southgate Street,Winchester,Hampshire SO23 9EG 0871 906 9060
- Effie Gray
- Gone Girl
- Guardian Live: Russell Brand In Conversation
- The Judge
Effie Gray 3 stars
Victorian art critic John Ruskin takes wide-eyed innocent Euphemia Gray as his teenage bride. A formal visit to Ruskin's parents opens Effie's eyes to the solitude and loneliness that she will have to bear for the rest of her married life. Ruskin spirits Effie up to Scotland with Everett Millais, who has been commissioned to paint a portrait of the eminent critic. A spark of attraction between Millais and Effie threatens to spark a full-blown affair but lowly wives do not divorce wealthy husbands.
- GenreDrama, Historical/Period, Romance
- CastEmma Thompson, Russell Tovey, Julie Walters, Claudia Cardinale, Greg Wise, Dakota Fanning, Robbie Coltrane, Tom Sturridge, James Fox, David Suchet.
- DirectorRichard Laxton.
- WriterEmma Thompson.
- Duration108 mins
- Official sitewww.effiegraymovie.com
- Release10/10/2014 (selected cinemas)
Oscar-winning actor and screenwriter Emma Thompson returns to the stifled emotions and rigorous social etiquette of 19th-century English society for her script based on the real-life marital woes of Victorian art critic John Ruskin and his teenage bride, Euphemia Gray.
A love triangle comprising the unhappily married couple and charming artist John Everett Millais only really comes to the fore in the film's overwrought final act. Before then, Thompson builds our sympathy for the eponymous heroine as she weathers a barrage of callousness from her husband and his spiky parents.
Dialogue is well crafted - "If imperfection is your ideal, you must think me very beautiful," simpers Effie - but for all its prosaic wonder, Richard Laxton's film lacks the emotional sucker punch that seems to be coming from the dreamy opening frames.
Indeed, the closing scenes in which Effie ponders risking her reputation and social standing to follow her heart should have our tears flowing with a fury. But the saltwater deluge never comes.
Ruskin (Greg Wise) falls under the spell of 19-year-old Effie Gray (Dakota Fanning) and they marry. "What shall we do?" Effie politely asks her new husband, "What do married people do?" "I have as little idea as you, dearest," he replies. A formal visit to Ruskin's parents (David Suchet, Julie Walters) opens Effie's eyes to the solitude and loneliness that she will have to bear for the rest of her married life.
Ruskin immerses himself in his work while Mrs Ruskin, in particular, makes evident her disdain for her boy's choice of bride by constantly undermining Effie and forcing her gravely ill daughter-in-law to attend a soiree with Sir Charles Eastlake (James Fox) and Lady Eastlake (Emma Thompson) when she should be tucked up in bed.
The Ruskins travel to Venice where John once again abandons Effie to her own devices in the company of Rafael (Riccardo Scamarcio), who clearly has amorous designs on the worldly unwise wife.
Back on home soil, Ruskin spirits Effie up to Scotland with Everett Millais (Tom Sturridge), who has been commissioned to paint a portrait of the eminent critic. A spark of attraction between Millais and Effie threatens to spark a full-blown affair but lowly wives do not divorce wealthy husbands and Effie must continue to suffer in silence.
Effie Gray has the right ingredients for a swoonsome, bosom-heaving period romance but something doesn't quite gel in Laxton's picture. Fanning is a touching heroine, mustering courage in her hour of need with encouragement from Thompson in an eye-catching supporting role as the catalyst for female empowerment.
Wise has little to do besides the occasional sneer. Walters, Suchet make their mark in limited screen time, adding daubs of colour to the film's palette.
Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)
- Thursday 23rd October 2014
Gone Girl 4 stars
On her fifth wedding anniversary, Amy Dunne vanishes without trace. Her husband Nick works with the police to front a high-profile media campaign to secure the safe return of his "amazing Amy". In the glare of the spotlight, fractures appear in the Dunnes' marriage and police and public both question Nick's innocence. With Amy's creepy ex-boyfriend Desi Collings as another suspect, Detectives Rhonda Boney and Jim Gilpin search for answers.
- GenreAdaptation, Drama, Romance, Thriller
- CastNeil Patrick Harris, Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Boyd Holbrook, Scoot McNairy, Missi Pyle, Patrick Fugit, Kim Dickens.
- DirectorDavid Fincher.
- WriterGillian Flynn.
- Duration149 mins
- Official sitewww.gonegirlmovie.cok
Ignorance is bliss when it comes to Gone Girl. If, like me, you haven't read Gillian Flynn's 2012 psychological thriller and you know nothing of the serpentine twists that propelled the novel to the top of the bestsellers list then jealously guard your cluelessness.
There's an undeniable delight watching Flynn wrong-foot us with this spiky satire on media manipulation and the glossy facade of celebrity marriages. When the central characters promise to love, honour and obey, till death do them part, one of them takes that vow very seriously.
Admittedly, you have to dig deep beneath the surface of David Fincher's polished film to find the jet black humour but it's there, walking hand-in-hand with sadism and torture that propel the narrative towards its unconventional denouement.
The film version of Gone Girl is distinguished by a career-best performance from Rosamund Pike as the pretty wife, who vanishes without trace on her fifth wedding anniversary and is presumed dead at the hands of her handsome husband (Ben Affleck).
Pike has to plumb the depths of human emotion in a demanding and complex role, by turns brittle and steely, terrified and driven. She's almost certain to earn her first Oscar nomination.
In stark contrast, Affleck is solid but little more as the spouse who pleads his ignorance but hides secrets from the people he adores. As battles of the sexes go, it's a resolutely one-sided skirmish.
On the morning of his anniversary, Nick Dunne (Affleck) calls detectives Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) and Jim Gilpin (Patrick Fugit) to his home. There are signs of a struggle and his wife Amy (Pike) is missing.
Nick's sister Margo (Carrie Coon), who has never liked Amy, assures her sibling that everything will be fine. "Whoever took her's bound to bring her back," she quips cattily.
Nick and Amy's distraught parents (David Clennon, Lisa Beth) front a high-profile media campaign to secure the safe return of "amazing Amy". In the glare of the spotlight, fractures appear in the Dunnes' marriage and police and public question Nick's innocence.
Gone Girl holds our attention for the majority of the bloated 149-minute running time, with a couple of lulls and a disjointed final act. Pike's mesmerising theatrics light up the screen and there is strong support from Neil Patrick Harris as Amy's creepy old flame.
Fincher's direction is lean, complemented by snappy editing and a discordant score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, who won the Oscar for their music to The Social Network.
Once you regain your balance from Flynn pulling the rug from under your feet, this is a slick yet slightly underwhelming whodunit that doesn't quite scale the dizzy heights of shock and suspense previously achieved by Jagged Edge, The Usual Suspects or indeed, Fincher's 2005 film, Se7en.
Guardian Live: Russell Brand In Conversation 3 stars
Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)
- Thursday 23rd October 2014
The Judge 3 stars
In the midst of a trial, big city lawyer Hank Palmer learns that his mother has passed away. He ventures back to his hometown, which he abandoned 20 years ago, and tentatively rebuilds bridges with his two brothers, Glen and Dale, and father Joseph, who has been the community's venerable judge for 42 years. As Hank prepares to fly back to Chicago, Joseph is arrested for killing a scoundrel who passed through his court.
- GenreDrama, Romance, Thriller
- CastRobert Downey Jr, Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Vincent D'Onofrio, Leighton Meester, Billy Bob Thornton, Dax Shepard.
- DirectorDavid Dobkin.
- WriterNick Schenk, Bill Dubuque.
- Duration141 mins
- Official sitewww.thejudgemovie.com
The law is an ass and the people who administer it bigger asses in David Dobkin's courtroom drama about an estranged family reunited under the testing conditions of a murder trial. The Judge takes its sweet time going through the legal motions, grafting on a superfluous romantic subplot to the revelations in the dock.
Thankfully, lead actors Robert Downey Jr and Robert Duvall sink their teeth into their broadly sketched characters and energise the dysfunctional father-son relationship that provides the film with its conflict and heart-tugging emotion.
Both men relish the verbal sparring, galvanised by screen chemistry that convinces us they are chips from the same unmovable block. The lead role of a smarmy big city lawyer, who proudly proclaims, "Innocent people can't afford me", is a snug fit for Downey Jr.
Like Tony Stark in the Iron Man films, this slick operator has arrogance and wise-cracks to spare, yet, beneath the impeccably tailored suits and designer shades, there beats the fragile heart of a man terrified of losing the people he loves. As the lead prosecutor of the murder trial sagely observes, "You're a bully with a big bag of tricks."
The legal eagle in question is Hank Palmer (Downey Jr), who helps his wealthy clients to escape the State of Illinois' prosecutorial clutches. During one trial, Hank learns that his mother has passed away.
He ventures back to his hometown, which he abandoned 20 years ago, and tentatively rebuilds bridges with his two brothers, Glen (Vincent D'Onofrio) and Dale (Jeremy Strong), and father Joseph (Robert Duvall), who has been the community's venerable judge for 42 years.
His mood brightens when he learns that old flame Samantha (Vera Farmiga) owns the local bar. As Hank prepares to fly back to Chicago, Joseph is arrested for killing a scoundrel who passed through his court.
Special prosecutor Dwight Dickham (Billy Bob Thornton) is drafted in to secure a conviction and Joseph chooses local defender CP Kennedy (Dax Shepard) rather than his son to represent him. "Your honour, I'm going to fight like a badger for you," pledges Kennedy, whose inexperience in front of presiding Judge Warren (Ken Howard) convinces Hank that he needs to take charge of the case.
The Judge plays out the gradual role reversal of parents and children as caregivers in the rarefied surroundings of a wood-panelled courtroom. Downey Jr and Duvall are both excellent and D'Onofrio and Strong offer sterling support as siblings in crisis.
Unfortunately, Farmiga is short-changed as the token love interest, who gives Hank a flimsy reason to stay in town. Nick Schenk and Bill Dubuque's script doesn't conceal any narrative aces up its sleeve but does play fair, methodically resolving issues within the Palmer family as the court case reaches a suitably tense resolution.