Cate Blanchett, Sally Hawkins, Bobby Cannavale
Watching a mega-talent like Cate Blanchett chew up the screen with as much relish as she does in Woody Allen’s dramatic comedy is a massive pleasure. Blanchett plays Jasmine, a pampered Manhattan socialite whose world collapses when her cheating husband’s (Alec Baldwin) hedge-fund empire collapses, leaving her broke, unstrung and living with her downmarket sister (Hawkins) in San Francisco. From her first, babbling appearance on a flight, the actress is so big as Jasmine, she threatens to overwhelm the entire film, but her virtuosic characterisation feels entirely appropriate. For one thing, while actors can often sound stilted delivering Allen’s dialogue, Blanchett makes it entirely natural and real. As funny as Jasmine often is, she’s heartbreaking too, her grip on reality becoming ever more tenuous. She might frighten Oscar voters, mind you, but if we had our way, we’d have done with it and give Blanchett the Best Actress gong now.
James McAvoy, Imogen Poots, Jamie Bell
James McAvoy is superb in this shrewdly conceived adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s 1998 novel as Bruce, a repugnant junkie cop who’s less interested in solving crimes in Edinburgh than coke snorting, sexual abuse and all-round unpleasantness. The question is: why should we care a jot about this filthy creep? Thanks to McAvoy’s unflinchingly honest portrayal and Jon S. Baird’s taut direction, watching Filth peel back the layers on Bruce’s (in)sanity ends up being surprisingly giddy entertainment.
IN THE NAME OF
Andrzej Chyra, Mateusz Kosciuki ewicz, Lukasz Simlat
A drama about a Catholic priest with an eye for the boys? Sounds like we’re in for another salacious portrayal of church cover-ups and sexual abuse. But this eloquent, exquisitely shot Polish film, which won the Teddy Award at Berlin, handles its subject matter with sensitivity and care, exploring love through the constraints of religion as Father Adam (Andrzej Chyra, outstanding) struggles painfully against his inclinations while running a school for disadvantaged boys. Highly recommended.
GIRL MOST LIKELY
Kristen Wiig, Annette Bening, Matt Dillon
Oh, Kristen Wiig. You could read the shipping forecast and make us fall backwards off our chair. So it’s disappointing to see our favourite Bridesmaid mired in a comedy as desperately laboured as Girl Most Likely, which pitches Wiig as a failed playwright forced to move back home with her oh-so-wacky mother (Bening). A few solid witticisms aside, Girl is a chronic case of too many faux-kooky shenanigans, far too little satisfaction gained.