CineVue

Film reviews and more

Christopher Machell

Film Review: Benediction

★★★★☆ Terence Davies’ first feature since 2016 is a moving biopic of the war poet Siegfried Sassoon: an anti-war film in the sense that we never see the conflict, yet its traumas echo throughout the life of its protagonist. Amidst the horrors of the Great War, army lieutenant and poet Siegfried Sassoon (Jack Lowden) petitions to end the bloodshed.

Film Review: Vortex

★★★★★ Dario Argento and Françoise Lebrun star as an elderly couple suffering through dementia and ill health in Gaspar Noé’s latest outing, Vortex. The Argentinian director’s follow up to 2019’s Lux Æterna is a typically difficult watch, subjecting us to the grinding indignities of old age, but it also a deeply moving study of lifelong love and loyalty to the bitter end.

Film Review: Happening

★★★★☆ French director Audrey Diwan adapts Annie Erwaux’s 2001 autobiographical book about her traumatic experience of an abortion in 1963 France. Happening is a naturalistic, heart-breaking and relentless account of the multiple traumas and injustices that cascade when women are denied their basic bodily autonomy.

Film Review: Playground

★★★★★ For most children, school is a frightening wilderness of social injustice and unchecked danger. With her first feature, Playground – part of last year’s Un Certain Regard lineup – Belgian filmmaker Laura Wandel captures this universal ordeal with a masterful sense of perspective and empathy.

Film Review: The Northman

★★★☆☆ Based on the Norse myth that inspired Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Robert Eggers’ third film is a rollocking, rampaging Viking romp. The Northman is Eggers’ most ambitious project to date, but for all its howling spectacle and ultra-violent elemental machismo it is also his least successful.