Spring is in the air and with it a renewed sense of purpose for moviegoers. We have a packed April full of hidden gems so let’s take a look at them…
How does an 85min movie set entirely inside a car take your fancy? It’s a tall order to find an audience with such a unique premise but Locke thankfully brings a real sense of ingenuity and purpose to the table. Ivan (Tom Hardy) leaves work and hits the motorway on his way down to London. During the journey he makes and receives a series of phone calls that will change the course of his professional and personal life forever. To say more would ruin this wonderful character study, so you’ll just have to trust me on this. With Olivia Colman, Ruth Wilson and Andrew Scott on the other end of the phone-line, you are in for an amazing ride in Steven Knight’s masterful and tension-filled drama. But this is without doubt Tom Hardy’s show; with a performance of consummate strength and fragility.
This offbeat drama, adapted from Willy Vlautin’s novel, introduces us to Frank and Jerry Lee – brothers who have been dealt a bad hand since birth. After the death of their mother, they’ve struggled to piece together any semblance of a normal life but have remained fiercely loyal to one another. But when Jerry accidently commits a crime, the brothers are forced on the run. Emile Hirsch and Stephen Dorff are on superb form and the occasional use of animation helps set this film apart from other American indie dramas. Throw in stellar support from Dakota Fanning and Kris Kristofferson and you have a melancholy fable that keeps you invested.
Writer/Director Ritesh Batra’s sumptuous treat delights from start to finish. Mumbai’s world-famous Dabbawalas pick up and drop off meals throughout the city. During a rare mix-up, a young housewife’s cooking inadvertently gets delivered to an office worker who is nearing his retirement. By exchanging notes in the lunch boxes, Ila and Saajan strike up an unlikely friendship with the food acting as a go-between in their budding relationship. Life of Pi’s Irrfan Khan leads this bittersweet tale of love, sharing a delightful chemistry with Nimrat Kaur. If your only exposure to Indian cinema is Bollywood then check this out; it’s a delicate, restrained and gloriously passionate character-study about love and second chances.
Something of a sleeper hit during the London Film Festival, We Are The Best (or Vi är bäst!) is a Swedish coming of age drama that starts off well but soon becomes very annoying. It’s the 1980s and three schoolgirls from Stockholm decide to form a punk-rock band despite not being able to sing, dance or play any instruments. Lukas and Coco Moodysson’s ode to adolescence has moments of hilarity and does nail the concept of teen angst and boredom. But after a short while, you’ll zone out and realise that there’s nothing more to this than just kids being kids. Some rites of passage are best left in the past and this is one of them.
John Michael McDonagh directs his own screenplay about a week in the life of a Catholic priest in a rural Irish community. After he is threatened during Confession, Father James Lavelle (Brendan Gleeson) struggles to deal with members of his increasingly-disenchanted congregation. Gleeson is a revelation here and hands in one of the performances of the year in this bleak, depressing and thoroughly engrossing watch. With a dark and twisted cynicism that challenges the ideals of one good man struggling to find hope within darkness, Calvary is an unforgettable look at religion and the role it plays in society.
Trying to do something different with the horror/thriller genre, Magic Magic sets its scene perfectly. Alicia (a very impressive Juno Temple) travels to Chile to meet up with her cousin Sarah (Emily Browning) and her friends on vacation. Before long, she starts feeling intense paranoia and dread that manifests into a dreamscape of horrific visions. This forces the group into a desperate situation that soon spirals out of control. The disappointing and ambivalent ending aside, this is an effective chiller with Michael Cera on super-creepy form.
Yet another young-adult novel to get the big-screen translation, Divergent is a wannabe hybrid of The Hunger Games, Ender’s Game and Harry Potter. The world is divided into factions based on our virtues, so when young Tris (Shailene Woodley) learns that she’s a ‘divergent’, she knows she won’t fit in anywhere. So she begins a journey that will not only change her and her family but shake up the very fabric of her government, a shadowy organisation who are secretly looking to eliminate all divergents. Woodley does very well, with a powerful leading performance that can easily help this franchise prosper like Jennifer Lawrence has done with The Hunger Games. She deserves a better script though. At times, this is just complete nonsense but there’s enough action and energy to keep you interested.
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