Sunday, 23 October 2011

LFF Day 12: Royal performance

At the UK premiere of her film W.E. at the London Film Festival, Madonna is flanked by actors Richard Coyle, James D'Arcy, Andrea Riseborough, Laurence Fox and Katie McGrath. It was quite possibly the starriest night of the festival, and Madonna received a warm welcome from the audience as she introduced her film and then gave a long, candid Q&A after with the festival's artistic director Sandra Hebron. It was great to be there - probably my only gala event this year. Here are some comments on the film, as well as a few other highlights...

dir Madonna; with Abbie Cornish, Andrea Riseborough 11/UK ***

Madonna takes an ambitious approach to the story of Wallis Simpson (Riseborough) and King Edward VIII (James D'Arcy), merging their history-making romance with the story of another Wallis (Cornish) in modern-day New York. Frankly, it's all a bit overwrought as it parallels the two stories and even merges them surreally several times along the way. The swings in mood are vast, from cheeky comedy to wrenching violence to political intrigue to sweet romance. And while the performances are good, only Cornish really connects with the audience. That said, the film's sheer ambition makes it worth seeing, as it is packed with terrific scenes that stand on their own. And it's also rather nice to see a big historical story like this seen from a woman's viewpoint, which brings out some issues most filmmakers are happy to pretend don't exist. So even if it's a bit of a mess, it still has relevance and resonance.

Take Shelter
dir Jeff Nichols; with Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain 11/US ****
Shannon reteams with Shotgun Stories writer-director Nichols for another exploration of one man's wobbling mental state. But this time the story is much more introspective, and watching it is thoroughly unnerving... FULL REVIEW >

Wild Bill
dir Dexter Fletcher; with Charlie Creed-Miles, Will Poulter 11/UK *****
British actor Fletcher makes a terrific directing debut with this sharply told story of a family struggling to survive in a bleak environment. But this film is so full of hope that it thoroughly engages our emotions even when things get scary... FULL REVIEW >

The Future
dir Miranda July; with Miranda July, Hamish Linklater 11/US ***
While this film is a bit too precious and offbeat, it also makes some striking observations on the nature of relationships and the fears we have about moving ahead into the unknown. And the engaging cast keeps us involved... FULL REVIEW >

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