Film Review: On Body and Soul

★★★★☆ An older man and a younger woman accidentally discover that, every night, they encounter each other in their dreams as a pair of deer. The premise of Ildikó Enyedi’s On Body and Soul sounds like the perfect recipe for rom-com cheesiness, yet it’s anything but.At first astounded, the couple draw closer together as their…

Film Review: Insyriated

★★★☆☆ If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to run a household in the midst of a civil war, look no further than Insyriated. Philippe Van Leeuw’s Berlin Audience Award winner is a gruelling if slightly underdeveloped portrayal of daily reality for millions of Syrian families.Watching a film set during an ongoing conflict like Insyriated,…

DVD Review: Risk

★★★★☆ It’s always instructive to compare a director’s latest film with their previous efforts, and this is certainly the case with Laura Poitras’ Risk. Her first feature since 2014’s Citizenfour, the differences between the two are in this case more telling than the similarities.While both documentaries rely on unparalleled access to people (Julian Assange and…

Film Review: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

★★★★☆ Re-released in cinemas to mark Jack Nicholson’s 80th birthday, Milos Forman’s legendary 1975 tragicomedy One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, adapted from Ken Kesey’s best-selling 1962 novel of the same name, has aged well. Its honest and forthright depiction of mental illness, combined with Nicholson’s tour-de-force bull in a china shop performance, mean that…

Film Review: 20th Century Women

★★★★★ You can explain what 20th Century Women is about in many ways. It’s a coming-of-age story about a teenage boy called Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann) coming to terms with his feelings for the opposite sex (in this case Julie, played by Elle Fanning) and the pressures exerted by his peers. It’s a film about…

Film Review: Tower

★★★★☆ We’re all accustomed to the standard media treatment of mass shootings and terrorist attacks. Obsessed with uncovering and explaining every last detail of the killer’s life, newscasters and journalists analyse adolescent diary entries and interview parents, grandparents, neighbours and classmates in an effort to draw out endless hours of coverage. Yet such treatment only…

Film Review: The Unknown Girl

★★★☆☆ Social realist veterans Jean and Luc Dardenne return to the big screen with their latest work The Unknown Girl, a thought-provoking but messy tale about a doctor who feels immense guilt for a patient she failed to help. Adèle Haenel plays Jenny Davin, a young GP who refuses – despite the protests of her…

Film Review: The Dreamed Ones

★★★★☆ A few years after the end of the Second World War, a man whose parents perished in a concentration camp and a woman whose father was a Nazi party member met and fell deeply in love. The man’s name was Paul Celan, a twenty-seven year old German language poet of Romanian origin whose most…

Film Review: The Innocents

★★★★☆ On the surface, Anne Fontaine’s latest film The Innocents seems to have a lot in common with Pawel Pawlikowski’s recent masterpiece Ida. Both take place in convents in post-World War II Poland, and both feature the familiar imagery of veiled devotees, hushed ritual and religious iconography. But while Ida is the story of a…

Film Review: Arrival

★★★★★ It’s a question posed by international relations scholars and armchair strategists alike: if aliens were to invade earth, would we finally learn to get along? In Arrival, Denis Villeneuve ventures an answer and proves himself a master innovator of science fiction. Amy Adams is phenomenal as renowned linguist Louise Banks who is brought in…

DVD Review: Kes

★★★★☆ Aside from the furore surrounding Ken Loach’s latest Palme d’Or winning polemic on the inhumanities of the British welfare system, I, Daniel Blake, the re-release of his iconic 1969 drama Kes is a chance to explore a more poetic side of the prolific social realist filmmaker. Set in Barnsley in a dysfunctional, single-parent working…

Film Review: After Love

★★★★☆ Joachim Lafosse’s Our Children explored the desperation and unhappiness that can drive a mother to physically harm her own children. Now Lafosse is back with another – marginally lighter – drama about domestic dysfunction, this time featuring Bérénice Bejo and Cédric Kahn as a couple with two daughters (played wonderfully by real-life siblings Jade…