Here are some of the new films opening this weekend that were reviewed!
It's a small film that keeps coming up all throughout awards season, and with deservedly good reason. "Women Talking" is a powerful and important movie about women, made by women, but one that should not be limited to female audiences. Yes, men need to see this film too.
The premise is somewhat straight-forward: The women in an old-fashioned, rural, overtly-religious community gather together to decide what they should do next, after they learn of some horrific acts the men have been systematically committing against them. With the men out of town for a brief period of time, they assemble and hash it out: Should they bring a fight to the men when they return? Should they flee altogether? Should they lean into their faith and find ways to forgive the atrocities? Surely doing nothing is not an option...or is it?
Jessie Buckley, Rooney Mara and Claire Foy shine, all taking up different characters representing the different choices presented to the women. Despite how it sounds, "Women Talking" is a cinematic film. The barn makes the women feel isolated, a visual cue to their current situation. But the barn doors open, there are peaks at a better life out the window. One young girl, has accepted herself and a brighter future, and spends most of the movie not in the barn but out in the open field. The others look at her with longing.
The words play like a symphony, and manage to never be dull...this is a constructed conversational script that manages to inject lighter moments, showing the camaraderie of the group in-between the heavier, sometimes combative, ones. It's shocking and puts the entire film in a new perspective when in one scene, we learn not only where, but when, this is all taking place.
Needless to say, "Women Talking" features one of the best ensembles of the year, that year being 2022 when it technically was first released. It's also one of the best films.
Run Time: 1 hour 44 minutes.
Starring: Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, Frances McDormand, Judith Ivey, Kate Hallett, Liv McNeil, Michelle McLeod, Sheila McCarthy.
Written and Directed by Sarah Polley ("Stories We Tell," "Take This Waltz," "Away from Her").
"Women Talking" is in theaters on Friday, January 20th, 2023.
Anna Kendrick gives the best dramatic performance of her career in the powerful, but at times frustratingly thin "Alice, Darling," a movie about a woman dealing with emotional and mental abuse from her douche-bag boyfriend, Simon (Charlie Carrick).
Many women will be able to relate with Alice's plight, whether directly (from experience) or indirectly (knowing a friend who has gone through a similar hell). Alice's two close friends, Sophie (Wunmi Mosaku) and Tess (Kaniehtiio Horn) decide to get away for a while and they take Alice to a lakefront property where they can all unwind and have some fun. Little does Alice know, it's more of an intervention.
Alice works up the courage to tell Simon about the trip, but lies to him. She dismisses passes at her from an attractive waiter. As her friend points out to her, she has been basically stripped of her personality and any "self" at all, other than the part of her that tries to make Simon happy.
The film succeeds not only in Kendrick's gripping performance, but in the way that it showcases this type of "subtle" but powerfully damaging abuse. Simon is not violent, he doesn't intimidate with his physicality. But he's self-absorbed. He puts Alice on guilt trips that find her texting him photos of her body, or is constantly checking in with her. He demeans her and then follows it up with a loving comment. He likes to mind-f*** her perhaps more than the real version.
I just wish the film wasn't so on-the-nose. They make Simon a budding art collector, with the cliché that his latest art gallery presentation is taking up all of his time. He's got a foreign accent. Like, this whole story might have came across more effectively had he been a "normal" guy, living a "normal" life, and working a "normal" job. It would have approached the universality of this sort of abuse in a much more relatable way.
All of the characters are quite thin, and although this is appropriate for Alice, who has been whittled away to nearly nothing, a shell of her former self and in search of her real "self,, what's the excuse for the others?
Despite all of this, "Alice, Darling" is a different kind of drama, and worth seeing for Kendrick alone.
Genre: Drama, Thriller.
Run Time: 1 hour 30 minutes.
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Kaniehtiio Horn, Wunmi Mosaku, Charlie Carrick.
Directed by Mary Nighy (feature-film directorial debut)
"Alice, Darling" is in theaters on Friday, January 20th, 2023.
Filmmaker Florian Zeller burst onto the scene in 2020 with his stunning achievement, "The Father," a film that landed five total Oscar nominations (including Best Picture) and which won two (Zeller and Christopher Hampton for Best Screenplay, and Anthony Hopkins for Best Actor). That film was based on Zeller's successful stage play, and the effective directing style it utilized - putting us in the head of a man with dementia - elevated the already potent written words.
He banked in on the success of "The Father" with a prequel stage play, aptly titled "The Son," and following in "The Father"'s footsteps, he has adapted that play for the screen as well. Sadly, lightning has not struck twice, and "The Son" is a meandering, mean-spirited melodrama that doesn't earn its place by the side of the film that came before it.
Nor does it stand on its own.
The tie-in to the previous film might be missed by most movie-goers to begin with, since very few people even saw "The Father." Hugh Jackman, Laura Dern and Vanessa Kirby - try as they might - are shackled by the limitations of the script and the one-note characters. The film gives us the perspective of Jackman's character, a business-man father who is trying to understand his son's grief and depression. By the time Hopkins shows up, reprising his role and offering us insight into Jackman's backstory, we've already turned against this man...and if you think about it, given the backstory, how is it that Jackman can't come to relate with his son's issues?
This is a bleak, cold film that hits differently than a tale about an old man as he approaches an inevitable fate. Why is it that a teen's story feel so stripped of hope? "The Son" is a failed attempt to analyze depression, and gives its audience little to empathize with.
Run Time: 2 hours 3 minutes.
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Vanessa Kirby, Laura Dern, Zen McGrath, Anthony Hopkins.
Written and Directed by Florian Zeller ("The Father").
"The Son" is in theaters on Friday, January 20th, 2023.
Be sure to check out the Season 8 Premiere of "Movie Show Plus" on
Sunday, January 29th, 2023.
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