Hey children, how are you?! Not meaning to make this a Monday fixture as films typically open on Fridays, I will forgo an explanation, dive right into the reviews and do my best to get more to you by this Friday, as well.
Now, I’d like to start with a look at one of the actresses in the new film adaptation of Irene Nemirovsky’s Suite Francais, namely someone I’ve mentioned several times in this blog before, Australian actress Margot Robbie. Observing the formats followed by the recent slate of new actors who are big on the scene, it is beyond apparent that the construction of a successful career in cinema (as in any occupation) depends on the choices one makes along the way. What I find refreshing about Robbie is that she is solely focused on diversifying her roles, not copping to these fad book-series adaptations for the silver screen, and she genuinely brings a presence to the screen that makes her appear a bit older than her 24 years. While she only holds a minor role in Suite Francaise, it’s one that helps gel this historically fictional story, interpreted by a myriad of truly gifted female actresses. One challenge though…the principal female characters of the film are French and ALL the actors are not. Kristin Scott Thomas is a Brit, Michelle Williams an American, la Robbie an Australian. And those affected British accents when they’re reading things in French, yet the only other language you ever hear in the film apart from English is German…it just feels wrong and very forced. Granted, the storyline is easy to swallow and the historical references of the German invasion in France ring true, AND thankfully it’s easy to believe in the chemistry between Williams and actor Matthias Schoenaerts (WATCH OUT! Alert…starring soon in Far From the Madding Crowd, his star is about to blow up), but really? No French main or supporting actors in a France-based film. I feel like that American cinema disease of misappropriating nationalities has hit European cinema in full force. Still, this is a pleasing if slow piece of historical fiction/drama. ###
Onto this week’s new American film, the comedy The Wedding Ringer starring comedian Kevin Hart in his first headlining role. Now, as much as I enjoy trashing male comedies like this one (think that ridiculous Hangover series), I must say this film brought up a much-needed topic of discussion, namely how easy it is for men to adapt to living a lie. The entire film revolves around Hart (as Jimmy Callahan) playing wedding savior (for a fee, of course) to comedic actor Josh Gad’s Doug Harris. Now, I must add that while Gad was sadly hit by the ugly stick when born, poor thing, that only adds to his endearing nature in the film. He desperately wants to hold on to his fiancee played expertly by adorably bitchy Kaley Cuoco, but his reality is that he was always the chubby nerd who had few friends. Enter Hart stage left and his problems are solved. The banter between the actors in this film is fast and not so fresh, but it plays well for a stereotypical comedy. It would be lovely to see if Kevin Hart can dive a bit deeper into his comedic shtick and start uncovering more male truths. His monologue routines on stage are standard and male-driven but if this film is asking anything, it’s for people to realize that the male identity crisis needs to be talked about more often. We may live in a jokey-jokey, patriarchal society, but the male species is sorely behind in emotional/mental intelligence. Even a silly comedy like this can’t hide that fact! ###
Lastly, save the best for last. The Irish animated wonder Song of the Sea was released late last year to the film circuits and some screens in order to make the Oscar cut. Well executed, the film was nominated for the Best Animated Feature Oscar a couple of months ago. Though it didn’t win the coveted award (losing to Big Hero 6…sigh!), it did continue the fortuitous next step for director Tomm Moore, who is now directing a segment of the upcoming adaptation of Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet. Song revolves around two kids Ben and Saoirse, who live alone with their dad and dog after their mum walked out years before. When the fantasy element kicks in, a mostly mute Saoirse finds herself led by the least expected source to her next phase of life, the realisation that she herself is a Selkie, a mythological seal-in-water, beautiful human-on-land being. The beauty of this film is the pulling back of layers that haunt us by family scars and secrets. Using the fantastical as a basis for a therapeutic ride to understanding, the creators of this film have lovingly fused animation and emotion in a way Disney cartoons rarely can. ####
Enjoy this week as the summer slowly pushes a short spring out of the way. See you all very soon!