Category Archives: Drama

Man on Fire (2004) Review

Time: 146 Minutes
Age Rating: R16 – Violence & content that may disturb
Denzel Washington as John W. Creasy
Dakota Fanning as Guadalupe “Lupita” (Pita) Ramos
Radha Mitchell as Lisa Ramos
Christopher Walken as Paul Rayburn
Marc Anthony as Samuel Ramos
Giancarlo Giannini as Miguel Manzano
Mickey Rourke as Jordan Kalfus
Director: Tony Scott

John, an ex-CIA officer, is entrusted with the responsibility of safeguarding an entrepreneur’s daughter. When the girl gets kidnapped, John vows to seek revenge.

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Man on Fire is one of Tony Scott’s best movies, a brutal action thriller that is strengthened by the great performances (especially from Denzel Washington), and some stellar direction.

Man on Fire is initially a familiar revenge thriller, and while it certainly fits that genre, at its core it is a character study. This simple story is held together by the complexity of Denzel Washington’s lead character. The trope of having a character with a dark past forming a bond with a character before they are hurt, kidnapped or killed prompting them to get revenge isn’t always the most effective, usually because it doesn’t feel that genuine. Man on Fire however dedicates its first 45 minutes on Washington’s character spending time protecting Dakota Fanning and becoming friends with her. The movie really takes time to develop their relationship and building up these characters and the story instead of just rushing to the part where the protagonist goes loose. Indeed, the rest of the movie is Washington going on a rampage, but the scenes are given so much weight and meaning because of the time spend beforehand. Despite Scott’s often fast pace, it is slower compared to some of his other movies. This slow development really contributes to the emotion and suspense of the second and third acts. Make no mistake, for as brutal as the movie gets, it is an emotionally filled journey.

Denzel Washington gives another phenomenal performance in the lead role. He has the charisma that only he could pull off, and also does well at conveying his character’s backslide into killing again, and is convincingly a force of nature. Dakota Fanning is also really good as the girl that Washington’s character has to protect, and those two share a bond together. While you’ve seen this type of relationship before when it comes to revenge movies with similar plots, it is truly one of the best examples of it. Without this strong central relationship, the movie wouldn’t have been nearly as effective. Christopher Walken is good as Washington’s closest friend, and other actors like Giancarlo Giannini and Mickey Rourke also work well in their parts.

As expected from Tony Scott, his kinetic style is incredibly in your face and it does a lot to serve the overall narrative. With the stylish camerawork, cinematography and editing, it gives this disorientating feeling which helps put us in the protagonist’s perspective. The action is engaging, and the violence is brutal, striking and yet grounded.

Man on Fire is a familiar but well executed revenge thriller, stylishly directed, gripping, and led by a reliably great Denzel Washington. One of Tony Scott’s best films.


True Romance (1993) Review

Time: 97 Minutes
Age Rating: R18
Christian Slater as Clarence Worley
Patricia Arquette as Alabama Whitman
Dennis Hopper as Clifford Worley
Val Kilmer as Elvis
Gary Oldman as Drexl Spivey
Brad Pitt as Floyd
Christopher Walken as Vincenzo Coccotti
Bronson Pinchot as Elliot Blitzer
Samuel L. Jackson as Don “Big Don”
Director: Tony Scott

A comic-book nerd and Elvis fanatic Clarence (Christian Slater) and a prostitute named Alabama (Patricia Arquette) fall in love. Clarence breaks the news to her pimp and ends up killing him. He grabs a suitcase of cocaine on his way out thinking it is Alabama’s clothing. The two hit the road for California hoping to sell the cocaine, but the mob is soon after them.

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True Romance was a movie that I had been meaning to watch for some time. I knew that it was one of Quentin Tarantino’s earliest scripts which he sold so he could make Reservoir Dogs, and which was directed by Tony Scott instead. It didn’t disappoint.

As expected, Tarantino’s script is great. True Romance definitely contains a lot of his trademarks: snappy dialogue, violence, dark humour, a lot of pop culture references and a clear love for cinema. It’s definitely a flawed script, it’s definitely not among Tarantino’s best, and doesn’t have a whole lot of substance to it. However, Tony Scott executes the script well and makes it work even better, particularly with its hyper kinetic pace and flow. It succeeds at being an oddly charming romance crime film, and I especially prefer Scott’s ending compared to what Tarantino had in mind originally.  

One of the biggest standouts of the movie is the incredibly large and talented cast involved. The characters are memorable, and the actors help to convey them incredibly well, particularly in delivering Tarantino’s witty dialogue. Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette are fantastic as the lead characters, both of whom help to really anchor the movie. While the romance may be sudden, the two have such excellent chemistry that it’s believable. The supporting cast is large and great, including the likes of Gary Oldman, Val Kilmer, Dennis Hopper, Christopher Walken, Val Kilmer, Brad Pitt, Tom Sizemore, Samuel L. Jackson, and James Gandolfini. Even if they aren’t in many scenes, they make the most of their screentime.

Tony Scott’s energetic direction is one of the key parts of the movie’s success, as important as the script. It is definitely an earlier film of Scott’s as it is very different from his more recent direction seen in the likes of Man on Fire, Unstoppable and Enemy of the State. Still, its very stylish and has some stunning cinematography. It also has some startling brutal violence that benefits from Scott’s rapid editing and stylised action. The soundtrack is also solid, from Hans Zimmer’s composed score to the other great musical choices.

True Romance is entertaining from beginning to end, a great paring of Quentin Tarantino’s great (if imperfect) writing with Tony Scott’s slick direction, featuring an outstanding ensemble cast. It’s my favourite from Scott, and it is well worth checking out.

The Last of the Mohicans (1992) Review

Time: 112 Minutes
Age Rating: PG – Violence
Daniel Day-Lewis as Nathaniel “Hawkeye” Poe
Madeleine Stowe as Cora Munro
Russell Means as Chingachgook
Eric Schweig as Uncas
Jodhi May as Alice Munro
Steven Waddington as Major Duncan Heyward
Wes Studi as Magua
Director: Michael Mann

When a British officer’s daughter, Cora, gets caught in the crossfire during the French and Indian War, Hawkeye, a man adopted by the Mohicans, must save her.

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I just knew The Last of the Mohicans as being a Michael Mann which started Daniel Day-Lewis in the lead role. This is a particularly different movie in Mann’s filmography, considering that it’s a period piece and he’s more known for his crime movies like Heat, Thief, Collateral and Public Enemies. Overall, I thought it was pretty good.

The Last of the Mohicans is an historical period piece war drama, and definitely delivers on being grand and epic. At the same time it has a very human approach, with a well scripted and tragic story. There are some great scenes and it gets surprisingly emotional at points. With that said, I admit that I wasn’t as invested in the movie as I wanted to be. However, it does end with a strong and powerful third act, and I especially loved how low key and intimate the finale was.

The acting was all good. Daniel Day-Lewis plays the lead role and gives a charismatic and strong performance as expected, even if I wouldn’t call it one of his all time best. Madeleine Stowe is good, and while her romance with Day-Lewis wasn’t that engaging to me, it was believable enough. The supporting players were good too, with Russell Means, Steven Waddington, Eric Schweig and Jodhi May being great in their parts. However, the standout to me was Wes Studi as a fantastic and complex villain. His character of Magua is multilayered, a force of nature but one driven by understandable motivations, and Studi plays him incredibly well.

Michael Mann’s direction is great as always, and the movie is strong on a technical level. The cinematography is stunning and makes great use of the locations, the action is top notch with brutal battle sequences that hold up today, and the score is really good too.

The Last of the Mohicans is a solid period piece war movie, greatly directed by Michael Mann, and it has some fantastic performances. It doesn’t rank on the higher end of Mann’s filmography for me, but it is still pretty good.

Beau Is Afraid (2023) Review

Time: 179 Minutes
Age Rating: R16 – Violence, sexual violence, offensive language & content that may disturb
Joaquin Phoenix as Beau Wassermann
Patti LuPone as Mona Wassermann
Amy Ryan as Grace
Nathan Lane as Roger
Parker Posey as Elaine Bray
Stephen McKinley Henderson as the therapist
Director: Ari Aster

Following the sudden death of his mother, a mild-mannered but anxiety-ridden man confronts his darkest fears as he embarks on an epic, Kafkaesque odyssey back home.

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Leading up to the release of Beau is Afraid, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about it, despite Joaquin Phoenix being cast in the lead role. Director Ari Aster is interesting to me, I liked Hereditary when I saw it, but was also very lukewarm on his follow up film Midsommar. However, the polarising reactions to Aster’s latest did have me curious, and I’m glad to say that I liked it.

Beau is Afraid is far different from any movie that Ari Aster made in the past, it more closely resembles a Charlie Kaufman movie than Hereditary or Midsommar. It’s by far his most ambitious film yet, a creative and unpredictable 3 hour long dark character piece and psychological trip through anxiety. The further the movie goes, the deeper Aster gets into protagonist Beau’s mind. The initial plot may seem simple, with it focusing on Joaquin Phoenix’s Beau going to visit his mother, but the actual movie is far from simple. So much of the movie is over the top and exaggerated. It’s takes place from Beau’s perspective and never leaves it, so you can’t get a grip on what is real and what isn’t. It is stressful and anxiety inducing, and the subject matter is uncomfortable at times. At the same time, the weirdness somewhat has a charm to it. There’s even some surprising dark humour, usually with how absurd the scenarios are. Beau is Afraid sets the tone within the first 5 minutes, and I started off having a good feeling about it. The first act was a dark comedy about irrational fears and takes place in a city where just about everyone has gone mad, and it had this absurdist charm to it. It worked well at establishing Beau and his anxieties, and you really feel his tension and fears of everything.

After it leaves its first act and enters the second hour beginning with a section where Beau is staying with a couple, that’s where it began to stumble for me. Despite some good moments and great acting, it gets shaky really quickly. Once the journey actually begins, its like the movie is just dragging Beau from one traumatic experience to another. It loses its focus until the third act, and the momentum fizzles out over time; by the end I didn’t think it went anywhere particularly thoughtful. At a certain point, it really seems like Ari Aster is just opting to torture Beau, and the mean spirited attitude towards the main character does have some mixed results. I was on board with it for the first hour or so, but it becomes grating. It is also a very self indulgent movie with some elaborate set pieces, and while they are well crafted, they don’t always add a whole lot to the movie. This movie obviously can’t just be taken on face value and you have to look a little deeper to find further interpretations, but weirdly it felt a little shallow and on the nose. While the last act has some stand out parts and is more consistently strong than the middle act, it culminates in a dissatisfying ending which takes an abrupt turn. I’m sure its meant to leave you with that feeling, but my patience had been wavering over the course of the movie, so the conclusion did leave me feeling a little cold and not necessarily in the good way. For a 3 hour long movie, so much of it felt incomplete and underdeveloped. It is definitely too long, parts of the middle act and the ending stand out as such. It drags at a certain point, and it doesn’t help that its already exhausting to watch.

The acting is pretty strong. Joaquin Phoenix in the lead role gives another emotionally committed performance, he really sells so much of his character and the situations he’s thrown into. The rest of the cast are pretty good in their parts too, including Nathan Lane, Amy Ryan, Parker Posey, and Stephen McKinley Henderson. However, Patti LuPone is the standout and makes a strong impression in her scenes.

Ari Aster once again shows himself as a more than capable director. The cinematography is stunning, it’s greatly edited, and the sound design and musical score from Bobby Krlic is on point. The visual storytelling is impressive, and all the technical elements come together to build the anxiety filled atmosphere. While you could question the necessity of some of them, the set pieces are at least visually appealing and creative.

Beau is Afraid is an ambitious, surreal, overlong, and anxiety filled nightmare which has its fair share of issues. However, it is also incredibly directed and shot, creative, darkly funny, and has some great performances. Ari Aster takes some massive swings with this movie and I’m happy that he got to do that, even if there’s a lot of the movie that didn’t entirely work for me. It’s very difficult to gauge who this would be for, but once again I have to throw out the often-redundant declaration “it’s not for everyone”. Even though I liked it myself, it’s not one I want to revisit (even beyond the length), but at the very least I admire it.

The Insider (1999) Review

Time: 158 Minutes
Age Rating: M – Medium level coarse language
Al Pacino as Lowell Bergman
Russell Crowe as Dr. Jeffrey Wigand
Christopher Plummer as Mike Wallace
Diane Venora as Liane Wigand
Philip Baker Hall as Don Hewitt
Lindsay Crouse as Sharon Tiller
Debi Mazar as Debbie De Luca
Director: Michael Mann

Jeffery Wigand, the former head of Brown & Williamson Tobacco Company, goes live on television to expose the bitter truth of how tobacco companies function.

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The Insider is another great movie from Michael Mann, intelligent, excellently made, and compelling throughout.

It is based on a true story of an exposing of Big Tobacco, albeit one with some fictionalised events added in. The screenplay is fantastic and eloquent, telling its thrilling story greatly. The story is gripping and riveting throughout and builds up suspense and tension. It starts out as a slow burn investigative journalism drama about fighting corporate interests and powers, and it turns into an engrossing thriller. The story could’ve easily been mundane and dry, but it is quite engaging. They are able to convey so much detail of the case without resorting to exposition dumps, keeping the right balance of not dumbing it down too much but keeping the viewer in the know about what’s happening. At 2 hours and 40 minutes it never feels dull.

There is a great cast here, all delivering amazing work. Russell Crowe gives one of his best performances as the titular insider. He does well at portraying the vulnerability and conflict and is believable as an ordinary guy who does the right thing and tells the truth at great cost. Al Pacino is also great, giving a grounded and understated performance, especially when compared to his other roles at the time. Crowe and Pacino are a solid on screen duo with some good chemistry. The rest of the cast are great including Phillip Baker Hall, and Christopher Plummer is especially a standout.

Michael Mann’s direction is slick and polished, as you’d expect from him. There’s some stunning cinematography and great camerawork, with good usages of colour and lighting, and the score from Pieter Bourke and Lisa Gerrard is great.

The Insider is an incredible and compelling film, with stellar writing, excellent direction and amazing performances (especially from Crowe, Pacino and Plummer). It’s some of Michael Mann’s best work, which is saying a lot.

Lady in the Water (2006) Review

Time: 110 Minutes
Age Rating: M – contains supernatural themes
Paul Giamatti as Cleveland Heep
Bryce Dallas Howard as Story
Bob Balaban as Harry Farber
Jeffrey Wright as Mr. Dury
Sarita Choudhury as Anna Ran
Cindy Cheung as Young-Soon Choi
Freddy Rodriguez as Reggie
Bill Irwin as Mr. Leeds
Jared Harris as Goatee Smoker
M. Night Shyamalan as Vick Ran
Director: M. Night Shyamalan

Cleveland Heep, an apartment superintendent, encounters a girl swimming in the complex’s pool and learns that she is actually a magical character from a story who wants to return to her world.

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Lady in the Water was one of the last remaining M. Night Shyamalan movies that I had left to see. The audience reaction to his movies had been gradually shifting towards negative with every subsequent movie he made after The Sixth Sense. At worst, Signs and The Village had mixed receptions, but the negativity really started around the time of Lady in the Water. I didn’t know too much about the movie going in, I’ve heard some not so good things about it but it does have its fanbase. Thankfully, I did end up liking it.

While I don’t think it would’ve been necessarily better received had it been different, the mismarketing of the movie really didn’t help. Despite how the trailers presented it, Lady in the Water is absolutely not a horror movie. There are some horror elements for sure, but you’d call Signs or The Village more of a horror movie than this. One thing about Lady in the Water is that you couldn’t accuse Shyamalan of slacking or being lazy with it. It is an interesting movie with some imaginative and creative choices. It’s definitely ambitious and perhaps his weirdest film yet, essentially a bedtime fairytale turned into a movie. It is very genuine, endearing and understanding; it felt like a personal movie to make. and Shyamalan’s sincerity does go some way to making it sort of work. It handles a lot of themes and topics like finding one’s purpose, faith, and facing grief, and I do like the dreamy atmosphere and odd characters. At the same time, not all the choices work. A particularly derided aspect was a movie critic character played by Bob Balaban who seems to hate everything, and some have accused him as being a deliberate insert from Shyamalan as an insert for some critics who piled on some of his movies. It’s a bit of a weird choice but I didn’t hate it, at worst it is kind of amusing. While I was invested with the movie from beginning to end, the plot was a bit too convoluted, undercooked and silly, and you just sort of have to go along with it. A lot of dense lore and exposition does bog down the experience, and while I appreciate how it made a big effort to be rich in mythology, it doesn’t always work. Much like some of Shyamalan’s other movies, some of the dialogue is awkward, strange and unnatural, and it does lead to some unintentional comedy. Unfortunately, while there is a large and diverse cast and characters, most of their unique traits are very surface level and they are underdeveloped. Really only Paul Giamatti’s character is fully fleshed out. Still, I liked the experience of the movie overall.

The performances are a bit of a mixed bag, but I liked them for the most part. The standout for me was Paul Giamatti, delivering a heartfelt and convincing performance as the protagonist. Bryce Dallas Howard is the co-lead, and while she is good, her character isn’t that fleshed out. There are a lot of supporting characters, played by actors including Jeffrey Wright, Jared Harris and Freddy Rodriguez. Even Shyamalan himself shows up to play a notable part in the story.

M. Night Shyamalan’s direction is good for the most part. There are some very good visuals with colourful imagery, and cinematographer Christopher Doyle makes it feel other worldly. However, much of the CGI really hasn’t held up that well. James Newton Howard delivers an amazing score and helps to give the movie a sense of awe and wonder.

Lady in the Water is a really flawed movie, especially with the writing. It is not by any means amongst M. Night Shyamalan’s best movies, in fact it’s on the lower end of his filmography. But I liked it nonetheless; there were things that kept me interested, it is creative, sincere, and has some good visuals and performances. I think it’s worth checking out at least.

Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths (2022) Review


BARDO, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths

Time: 159 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Sex scenes, offensive language & content that may disturb
Daniel Giménez Cacho as Silverio Gama
Griselda Siciliani as Lucía Gama
Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu

A renowned Mexican journalist and documentary filmmaker returns home and works through an existential crisis as he grapples with his identity, familial relationships and the folly of his memories.

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I had heard about Bardo for a while, it would be the next film from Alejandro González Iñárritu (7 years after The Revenant). The reactions seemed very polarizing, the general consensus was that it has fantastical visuals, but it was overlong and self indulgent. After it was nominated for Best Cinematography, I figured that I should give it a watch at the very least. Coming out of it, I had mixed feelings but I’m prepared to say that I liked it.


It is a bit hard to sum up what the movie is about, beyond the fact that it focuses on a Mexican documentary filmmaker and journalist and his headspace. I got the impression that is something of a pseudo biopic for Alejandro González Iñárritu, it certainly feels personal to him. It is very self indulgent but it seems aware of that, in fact at times it plays like an intentional self parody. It does seem to be playing with a lot of themes, including artistic aspirations, family history, and being lost between countries. Many of these themes are shown in interesting ways. You can tell early on that it’s going to be a weird movie, with some of the stylistic choices that are made, especially with its use of surrealism. Within the first hour I was at least intrigued in this chaotic and weird world that the movie existed in. But at a point after this, I stopped being interested, and it began to feel tedious. The choice to lean harder into surrealism and the abstract didn’t always work. Some of these segments can be special, but they became a little dull after a while. There are times where the movie had my interest, and other times where it lost it. The movie meanders aimlessly a lot, and the storytelling can be a little exhausting, made worse by the very slow pacing. It’s around 2 hours and 40 minutes, and you certainly feel it.


Daniel Giménez Cacho plays the main character and he’s really good in his part. He’s in almost every scene, and for as weird as the movie gets, he really holds everything together. Other actors are good in their parts, including Griselda Siciliani and Ximena Lamadrid.


While some of his decisions were for the worse, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s direction is at least admirable. One of the most praised aspects was the cinematography and it deserves all the praise. This is a gorgeous looking movie, and it’s shot in extreme wide angle so you see all the details. There are some locations and images where the visuals are not too dissimilar from a Terrence Malick film. The surreal imagery don’t always work but they are impressive and creative, and helped by the movie’s dream-like quality.


There’s no denying that Bardo is an ambitious film, but I admired it more than I actually liked it. The acting is good, there are some interesting themes and ideas, it is creative with memorable imagery, and the cinematography is sublime. However, my interest really waned over the course of its very long runtime, and I couldn’t help but find much of the experience to be tedious. I’m not sure I can really recommend it to just anyone, but if you’re open to a weird and surreal film, give it a go.

Argentina, 1985 (2022) Review


Argentina, 1985

Time: 140 Minutes
Ricardo Darín as Julio César Strassera
Peter Lanzani as Luis Moreno Ocampo
Alejandra Flechner as Silvia Strassera
Norman Briski as “Ruso”
Director: Santiago Mitre

The true story of how a public prosecutor, a young lawyer, and their inexperienced legal team dared to prosecute the heads of Argentina’s bloody military dictatorship.

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I didn’t know much about Argentina, 1985 before going into it. All I knew was that it is one of the movies nominated for Best International Feature, and it won that award at the more recent Golden Globes. It turned out to be a riveting historical courtroom drama which was great.


I didn’t know much about the events that Argentina, 1985 is based on, so naturally I found this very interesting and informative to watch. For those wondering about whether they can get into this, it’s a very accessible movie. It’s a good courtroom drama, conventionally told and straightforward, with a fairly simple story. It is gripping, told with a lot of weight, and you really feel the high stakes. It can be a heavy movie at times, mainly when we hear accounts from survivors. Still, there are little moments of humour which lighten up the tension, but don’t feel out of place. Despite the length of 2 hours and 20 minutes, it doesn’t feel that it’s too long, helped by the somewhat fast pace.


The performances from everyone were really good. Ricardo Darin is in the lead role of the main prosecutor and he’s great and convincing. The rest of the cast including Pedro Lanzini are also good. The actors playing the victims make an impression in their scenes too, especially Laura Paredes.


The direction is fairly simplistic from Santiago Mitre, but overall, his work is solid. The cinematography is slick, and the production design and editing are good.


Argentina, 1985 is a great historical drama, well acted and directed, and has a compelling story which I was engaged with from beginning to end. I highly recommend checking it out.

Luther: The Fallen Sun (2023) Review

Time: 129 Minutes
Age Rating: R16 – Violence, cruelty & offensive language
Idris Elba as John Luther
Cynthia Erivo as DCI Odette Raine
Dermot Crowley as Martin Schenk
Andy Serkis as David Robey
Director: Jamie Payne

A serial killer terrorizes London while disgraced detective John Luther sits behind bars. Haunted by his failure to capture the cyber psychopath who now taunts him, Luther decides to break out of prison to finish the job by any means necessary.

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I watched the tv series Luther starring Idris Elba, a dark and gritty detective show about a police detective who solves crimes (usually serial killers). I really liked it and I was disappointed when it was cancelled, especially after its cliff-hanger ending. So I was intrigued when it turned out that it was getting a sequel in the form of a Netflix movie. While it doesn’t reach the heights of the series, I still liked The Fallen Sun.

Neil Cross, creator of the Luther show, returns to write the script for the movie. The story and writing are fine. The biggest question that some will have is whether people can watch the movie if they haven’t seen the series. And the answer is yes, there are only two characters who return from the series, and the story doesn’t require you to know the events of the show beforehand. At the end of the tv series, Luther is arrested and while that’s how the movie starts, there are some retcons surrounding that aspect to link it with the movie’s story. Overall, I found The Fallen Sun to be entertaining, it works as an isolated crime thriller, and is very dark and unsettling, much like the show. People who watched the show probably know that it started out grounded but became silly in the later seasons, and the movie is definitely on the far-fetched side of things. It can get outlandishly silly at times, mainly with how absurdly powerful and well connected the villain is. The movie moves at a fast pace despite the long runtime, but in some ways it feels like a season of Luther crammed into a 2 hour long movie, and some aspects like the villain don’t get enough build up. It might’ve worked better as a tv mini series.

The acting is pretty good. Idris Elba as usual is great as John Luther and slips back into arguably his most iconic role with ease. He has a strong screen presence which elevates every scene he’s in. The rest of the cast is pretty good, including Cynthia Erivo. It was also great to see Dermot Crowley reprise his role as ex DSI Martin Schenk, it was good that they were able to bring back at least one of the supporting characters from the show. Andy Serkis however is the standout as the main villain and serial killer. The character is over the top and absurd (down to even his hair) but is depraved and dark. Serkis is fantastic and clearly having fun chewing up the scenery. This part is only relevant to those who watched the series, but Alice Morgan played by Ruth Wilson doesn’t appear in the movie. Considering the end of the show, it makes sense why she’s not here. Still, it doesn’t feel the same without her.

Jamie Payne directs the movie, his work here is fine. It does well to translate the Luther show to a movie and gives it a more cinematic feeling, despite looking like a Netflix movie. There are some good and memorable sequences, if over the top. 

Luther: The Fallen Sun is not one of the best stories in the Luther series but I still really liked it. The story was intriguing enough and the performances were great, especially Elba and Serkis. If you liked the show, I think you’ll find some enjoyment in the movie. If you haven’t seen the show, I think you’ll find a decent enough crime thriller.

Living (2022) Review

Time: 102 Minutes
Age Rating: PG – Coarse language & sexualised imagery
Bill Nighy as Mr. Rodney Williams
Aimee Lou Wood as Miss Margaret Harris
Alex Sharp as Mr. Peter Wakeling
Tom Burke as Mr. Sutherland
Director: Oliver Hermanus

Overwhelmed at work and lonely at home, a civil servant’s life takes a heartbreaking turn when a medical diagnosis tells him his time is short. Influenced by a local decadent and a vibrant woman, he continues to search for meaning until a simple revelation gives him a purpose to create a legacy for the next generation.

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Living was one of the remaining movies I was waiting to watch. The main reason was that in a lot of this year’s awards circuits, Bill Nighy’s performance in this movie was frequently nominated for Best Actor. I was then intrigued when I learned that this was a British remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru. Eventually it did get a nomination for Best Actor at the Academy Awards, along with Adapted Screenplay, and so I watched it first chance I could. Living ended up being much better than I thought it would be.

I know that many who have watched Ikiru are probably concerned with the fact that there’s a remake of it at all. But for what it’s worth, Living adapts the story to Britain quite well. You can see similarities between the two movies, the story beats are the same and even some of the imagery of the original movie is recreated here (including the iconic image of the lead character on a swing). At the same time, they feel thoughtfully and deliberately placed in. It doesn’t feel derivative, there is some clear passion for this story. I was invested enough in the movie that I wasn’t thinking about the similarities, and it manages to be its own thing. It probably helps that its central message is universal. Both films are about mortality and living life to the fullest, even in the face of inevitable death and the relatable fear of not having much time left. So while much of the story is bittersweet, the end message is optimistic. It is a very heartfelt, sensitive, and gentle story, and a politely restrained character study. There was clearly a lot of care taken in crafting the film; it takes its time and is a slow burn, but I was invested throughout. Perhaps the third act did have a bit too much of characters flat out stating the themes, but that’s what Ikiru did too. The movie is relatively short at an hour and 40 minutes, but I think it could’ve afforded to be a little longer. There are some aspects in the second half that I wish had more fleshing out.

Bill Nighy is in the lead role and while I haven’t seen a ton of his work, he gives possibly his best performance here. He’s so nuanced and subtle with so many powerfully quiet moments, and he fits the Takashi Shimura role in the original so well. His change over the course of the movie is so genuine and convincing. So much of the film relies on Nighy, and he had me so emotionally invested. The rest of the cast do some great work too, with Aimee Lou Wood and Tom Burke especially leaving strong impressions.

Oliver Hermanus’s direction is quite good. The technical elements aren’t anything too special but aren’t a slouch either. Right from the beginning, it seems like efforts were taken to make it look like the movie came from the 1950s, but isn’t so overt that it becomes overbearing or feels like its trying too hard. The cinematography is vivid and captures the time period and setting excellently. One of the stand out aspects of the movie is the elegant piano centric score from Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch. It’s incredible and pleasantly melodic music which carries so much emotion, accompanying the rest of the movie excellently.

Living is an understated, melancholic and existential drama with fantastic performances, especially from a phenomenal Bill Nighy. Whether you’ve watched Ikiru before or not, I highly recommend checking it out.