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Blackwood, The Congress, Mood Indigo


August 2014

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Ben Whishaw, Pei-pei Cheng, Andrew Leung
Anyone who managed to catch writer-director Hong Khaou’s debut feature at BFI Flare earlier this year will know what a moving and beautifully lyrical drama it is. Those who didn’t are in for a lovely treat. As the title suggests, Lilting unfolds with gentle melancholy while outlining the stilted relationship between Richard (Whishaw) and June (Pei-pei) following the death of Kai (Leung), the former’s lover and latter’s son. Interspersed with delicate flashbacks, the film explores the grieving duo’s longing and awkward efforts to communicate with each other, as the chasm between young Londoner and stubborn Chinese woman lost in an alien culture prove grimly difficult to bridge. Cinematically, it’s a Zen meditation session as opposed to a vigorous workout, but Khaou is a master of mood (let’s hope we see more from him in future), Whishaw and Leung make a dreamy couple and Chinese acting legend Pei-pei is a spiky delight.

Ed Stoppard, Sophia Myles, Russell Tovey
When a troubled university lecturer (Stoppard) moves his family into a creepy old house and things start going bump in the night, he decides it’s either ghosts or his young son (Isaac Andrews) being an almighty brat. Meanwhile, Russell Tovey lurks nearby, skulking around the neighbouring forest as an eccentric groundsman. The first half of this old-fashioned English ghost story deploys its haunted house tropes to good effect, before second-half revelations crack open the thin facade.

Robin Wright, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Jon Hamm
Ari Folman’s sci-fi satire charts an ageing, out-of-work actress (Robin Wright) who reluctantly sells her digital likeness to a Hollywood studio, to be used any way they see fit, before leaping forward 20 years into an animated realm, where she witnesses the consequences of that action. It’s a fab showcase for Wright, relishing her House Of Cards-fuelled revival, but the animated future – which resembles a Looney Tunes cartoon run amok – becomes hugely tiresome, even with Jon Hamm’s voice to soothe the way.

Romain Duris, Audrey Tautou, Gad Elmaleh
You know what to expect with Michel Gondry – director of Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless – at the helm: fanciful surrealism combined with romantic heartbreak. His latest fable, about a woman with a fatal water lily growing in her lungs and the inventor fighting to save her, doesn’t disappoint on visual invention. But for all the google-eyed gazing between adorable French stars Duris and Tautou, it never reaches the tragic-passion apogee it’s striving for.

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