Wednesday, 21 March 2018



Antoine and Miriam have been divorced for a while but are still locked in a custody battle for the young son Julian. When a judge grants the shared custody rights to the father the conflict escalates to the point of no return…

CUSTODY is an intense modern drama that cuts to the bone. How ugly and terrifying a divorce could be? Slowly sliding into the territory of a thriller it is hard to take sides until one of the spouses totally loses control.

This is only a second film from Xavie Legrand. Reminiscent of this year’s Oscar nominated film LOVELESS, the film does few favours to either parent, describing the divorce in all its ugliness, and only closer to the end does it take sides as the villain emerges. There’s no surprise who of the spouses comes out as the evil one, but the final fifteen minutes are spine tingling. Adding to the tension is the absolute realism of what is shown onscreen. Denis Menochet and Lea Drucker are both terrific. For most of the film they don’t say much, the camera focuses on their faces, their eyes, and we get all we need to know without a word spoken.

CUSTODY is not an easy film to take in, but it definitely is engaging and once you are hooked it won’t let go. The soundtrack is minimalistic, the exterior shots are gloomy and the atmosphere of quiet dread slowly building towards a very realising and devastating climax.

CUSTODY is not a movie for everyone but it is a great example of what modern independent cinema is about.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018



Isabelle (Juliette Binoche) is looking for love. A divorced artist and a single mom she craves the attention of men. In every next perfect stranger she sees her destiny, but only for a while until disappointment kicks in. Who is to blame? The men, the age we live in? Or Isabelle herself? Whatever the answer she will just keep on trying, and she is on a frustrating journey with no beginning and no end.

Director Clair Denis had tried to impress moviegoers with another "in your face" female drama of sexual frustration and unfulfilled desires of middle age, only this time around her new creation has no focus. The characters stumble in and out of the film, seemingly without purpose, which is more frustrating for the viewer than for the movie’s protagonist Isabelle.

Claire Denis is one of the most thought provoking directors of our time. I loved her previous film BASTARDS. She is the queen of raw style with plots that ask more questions than give answers. LET THE SUNSHINE IN may be raw but not in a good way. It is terribly underdeveloped. 

Juliette Binoche gives a fabulous performance, but she can be entertaining even if she reads a telephone book. Naturally beautiful and always stylish, Binoche is radiant at the age of 54 (not that the age matters, but it makes her looks even more impressive). Here, unfortunately, she is not enough to to make the weak script work. The move is a collection of Mise-en-scenes and dialogues about nothing, with characters themselves often acknowledging they are going around in circles. There are a few sensuous erotic moments (typical for Denis), but then again it is all even more frustrating when the dialogue that follows doesn’t make much sense.

Some movies try too hard and put too much on display. LET THE SUNSHINE IN simply does not have enough to keep one invested or engaged.

Monday, 19 March 2018



Natalie is a literature professor in her late forties. Recently divorced, she is in the stage of her life where every younger woman (including her daughter Mathilde) is competition. No, she is not heading to some sort of self destruction, but she hurts everyone in sight, whether it’s her happy in marriage best friend, or her ex husband going on vacation with a new spouse, or a younger colleague with some fresh ideas about how to run the faculty. They say it is easy to break, but what will it take for Natalie to rebuild her life and start afresh?

JALOUSE is an honest film about a middle age crisis with a larrikin heroine at its centre who is determined to be miserable and turn everyone else’s life into misery, no matter the cost. Directors David & Stephanie Foekinos excel at getting into the head of a woman. Their previous effort Delicacy with Audrey Tautou was hit and miss, while JALOUSE is a total triumph.

Karine Viard is inspired as Natalie. She is stylish and likeable, which only enhances the shock from her ability to transform into “l’enfant terrible” at a moment’s notice. The dialogue is snappy, the situations are grotesque, and they will make you cringe even more when you recognise the people you know in many personages of the film.

There’s nothing to add and nothing to take away from JEALOUSE. The drama is honest and the laughs come from the heart. The characters are established quickly and effortlessly, but still come across deep enough.Telling the story of a middle aged crisis from the woman’s point of view without reservation and political correctness is what modern cinema needs right now. But most of all JEALOUSE is extremely entertaining!

Thursday, 15 March 2018



A girl has disappeared in a small mountain town in Italy and inspector Vogel (Tony Servillo) comes to investigate. Vogel has gained a certain reputation by involving the media in his investigation. An angry crowd lynches the suspect before the clues are collected and the criminal confesses… this time around Vogel’s eyes are set on the college professor from the victim’s school. While our detective has little doubt as to the guilt of the man, things just don’t stack up. How far will our detective go to prove he is right… And in the cat and mouse game with his invisible opponent, who is really being played?

The directorial debut of the author of the original novel Donato Carrisi is one of the most impressive original mysteries that had come from Italy in recent years. It is not hard to guess the twist, but it definitely is elegant. The movie borrows heavily from many famous ones that have come before (including TWIN PEAKS of course), but the film has an interesting focus on the wrongly accused man. Trialled by the media without a shred of proof, he is sinking, his life spiralling out of control. THE GIRL IN THE MIST demonstrates how easy it is to lose everything over nothing. But also shows the other side of the coin. How easily the media can be played by both, good and evil?

Toni Servillo, who received world acclaim for his leading role in THE GREAT BEAUTY, plays a rather two-dimensional character, but he has a fantastic presence and this is all this thriller is asking of him. Jean Reno as Vogel’s psychiatrist goes under the radar in this small but significant role. The movie unfolds through the dialogue between the two men and it gives a certain structure to a film populated by many characters.

The movie has an atmosphere of sticky menace and does not always lead you to where you expect to be. If you catch it in the movies, do yourself a favour and make sure you watch the ending carefully. Make sure you count the objects in the box shown before the end titles, or you will be left wondering, or have to watch this scene again just like I did!

Tuesday, 13 March 2018



Ismael (Mathieu Amalric) is a famous movie director who is haunted by the ghosts of his past. His wife Carlotta (Marion Cotillard) disappeared 21 years ago and is now suddenly back in his life, which puts a strain on his relationship with his present love, Silvia. Ismael’s brother Ivan, who serves as an inspiration for the current film Ismael is making, doesn’t want anything to do with him, but instead of explaining why, we get snippet’s of Ivan’s life (or are they the bits of the film Ismael is making???), that is a self contained story within a story. It doesn’t have an ending though. And then there is Carlotta’s father,the famous Jewish director Henri Bloom, who is traumatized by his daughter’s disappearance, but when she storms back into his life he cannot accept her. The nature of their past relationship is never explained. Sound confusing? You ain’t seen nothing yet.

The stories switch chaotically between the characters and timelines, creating a dreamlike atmosphere, with no beginning and no conclusion to any of the story arks. Director Arnaud Desplechin has created a very anti-hollywood film, with a structure and character development that  is completely different to what a modern cinema goer is used to. He requires your full attention, making you believe every detail matters and he leads you to some revelations, only for you to discover that there was nothing there to find.

Desplechin created two different versions of the film, one 30 minutes longer which was shown during the French Film Festival in Australia. Most critiques are united in the belief that the longer version is more complete and has more to discover. Unfortunately I have to disappoint. ISMAEL’s GHOSTS is a perfect example where artistic creativity should have been locked in a cage. Where are all those heartless Hollywood producers when you need them?

The director is trying to squeeze too much into the movie’s lengthy run. A love triangle, a spy story, a film within a film, the creativity crisis, the relationship between parents and children, between producer and director, between the creator and his muse. It’s a comedy (mostly unintentional), it is a thriller (one scene, which has a man’s face blown off with an explosive hidden in a mobile phone, came straight from THE FINAL DESTINATION franchise), and it is a love story, the most illogical and inconclusive I’ve seen.

ISMAEL’s GHOSTS is a very original film (to say the least ) but it suffers from the greatest sin any piece of art could bear – it is boring!

Saturday, 10 March 2018



Max Angely (Jean-Pierre Bacri) runs a tight operation with his loyal staff and right hand maiden Adele. He is a party planner and this time it’s a wedding in a 17th century castle. Things invariably go wrong. First it’s something small, then the snowball starts rolling. During an evening filled with eccentric guests, mistaken identities and broken hearts will Max be able to pick up the pieces and save the party again and again? Like a juggler he has too many balls in the air, and one of them is doomed to fall.

LE SENS DE LA FETE is just like its name - filled with a party atmosphere, only it’s not the atmosphere we are usually exposed to. It’s the behind the scenes drama of little intrigues where personalities collide, loyalties form and relationships begin and end.

Jean-Pierre Bacri as Max delivers a solid performance, switching from sour to sad, then to fuming and frustrated in one go. His face is perfect for comedy and in each scene he is in he is bursting with charisma. The supporting cast includes Gills Lellouche in the role of a wedding singer and Eye Haidara as second in charge of the operation. The genuine chemistry between them saves the film when it steps into particularly cheesy territory.

The jazzy soundtrack is both  endearing and energising. The film’s 2hrs running time is hardly noticeable and with 20 plus characters, with most of them having their own mini story ark, it’s a great achievement. 

Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano from Intouchibles fame created a breezy comedy of misadventures with characters that are easy to love. One moment was funny enough for the audience to still be chuckling about it five minutes later, and this is when you know the film is special. LE SENS DE LA FETE could be a manual for making comedies and an unmissable example of modern french cinema.

Thursday, 8 March 2018



GOLDEN SLUMBER  is a Hitchcockian “wrong man” thriller with a large dose of melodrama added to the mix. 

Dong Won-Gang, a young delivery driver, becomes famous overnight when he saves a pop star from a robbery. But his fame is shortlived when he is accused of murdering a politician. Constantly on the run and no one to turn to there’s only one way out – to turn the table on his tormentors. But will he be able to stand by his ideals if he wants to beat the enemy at his own game?

GOLDEN SLUMBER starts with a bang, sending the protagonist on a wild chase across Seoul. The first action filled thirty minutes are entertaining as we watch our hero using his wits and intuition to get out from some impossible situations. As the mystery deepens and the conspiracy is explained the movie slows down a little, focusing on the relationship between the protagonist and his childhood friends who choose to support or abandon him, which is a source of many heart wrenching moments. 

It is the melodrama part that makes GOLDEN SLUMBER stand out from many other thrillers that focus on a wrongly accused hero. The puzzle of the conspiracy is also cleverly structured, giving a simple but believable explanation of the happenings.

A few important questions about the modern media world is explored. No direct answers are given, but the theme of remaining oneself and remaining human no matter the circumstances hits the mark.

Cleverly combining a top notch thriller with genuine drama and an unusual and very sympathetic protagonist, GOLDEN SLUMBER delivers on all fronts, with only its lengthy running time being a possible flaw.