Tag Archives: Olivia Colman

The Father (2021) Review

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The Father

Time: 97 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language
Cast:
Anthony Hopkins as Anthony
Olivia Colman as Anne
Rufus Sewell as Paul
Imogen Poots as Laura
Mark Gatiss as The Man
Olivia Williams as The Woman
Director: Florian Zeller

A man (Anthony Hopkins) refuses all assistance from his daughter (Olivia Colman) as he ages. As he tries to make sense of his changing circumstances, he begins to doubt his loved ones, his own mind and even the fabric of his reality.

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The Father was a movie I had been hearing about for a long time, ever since it had its premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier in 2020. It was about an old man with dementia that stars Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman. On face value, The Father looked like textbook Oscar bait. It looked like a slow burn movie about old people that would no doubt have good performances from its Oscar winning actors, and from the subject matter did seem to fit into the category of misery porn. The marketing and the posters certainly didn’t help. However, from hearing some of the reactions, not only did some people declare Hopkins’s performance one of his best (if not his best), but there’s a lot of praise for the actual movie itself. So even before it received its Oscar nominations I was curious to check it out. I was lucky enough to watch it myself in the cinema and it ended up being fantastic.

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The Father is based off the director’s play, and you can sort of tell from the movie that it was based off a play, from the dialogue, to the contained nature of the story, to the placing of the scene in a singular location for the most part. However, this movie does things with that, which really elevates it and takes advantage of it (mostly to do with the direction). Much of the movie actually feels like a nightmare or horror movie even though at its core it is a drama. It plays from Hopkins’s perspective like a psychological thriller in slow motion, which as it turns out was an incredibly effective way of depicting something as disorienting and torturous as dementia. Hopkins is an unreliable narrator here, but unlike other movies, it isn’t used to make the movie more thrilling or exciting. The reveals and ‘twists’ aren’t just there to throw you off and confuse you, it’s also telling a story. It also easily could’ve just been misery porn, but it’s handled with a lot of genuine care and consideration. You really experience the events from the main character’s point of view, showing his disorientated confused point of view with outstanding effect. The story is sometimes circular and there are events that are similar to each other, we get lost in Anthony’s confusion along with him. For example, sometimes characters are represented by different actors, I won’t say much more than that. You are confused, but it’s not confusing in a bad way, we are trying to figure out who is who and what is happening along with him. It is heartbreaking and tragic to watch, but it isn’t just your standard story. It was quite creative because of how the movie tells its story. It isn’t just an exterior observation of a man’s life with dementia, but rather an interactive experience as the viewer feels everything he feels. Not only that, but we also see how dementia has an effect on the people around them. I never felt like the story was dragging for me, each scene and moment serves its importance. At the same time, it isn’t an easy movie to sit through, as you would expect given the subject matter. It is definitely a movie where you have to focus in on the details, this isn’t a movie that you should just have on in the background. It’s short at 97 minutes, but that’s the right length for the story I’d say.

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The acting is what the movie is getting the most recognition for, and for good reason. First of all, Anthony Hopkins. Hopkins has a long and remarkable acting career. Now in his 80s, he delivers what I consider to be his best performance yet. He’s phenomenal, breathtaking and heart-wrenching in the lead role. Despite being such a recognisable actor, his performance feels incredibly real. It would be easy for any actor to overplay his role given that he’s playing someone with dementia, but he is flat out pitch perfect from beginning to end. It might actually be one of the best performances I’ve seen. Hopkins is getting a lot of well-deserved acclaim, however it’s not just him who should be receiving praise for acting here. Olivia Colman as usual delivers an amazing performance as the daughter of Hopkins. She’s so incredibly believable as this realistic and empathetic character, as she’s trying to grapple with what her father is going through. Like Hopkins, she feels completely real, and really does convey what you would expect some people would go through and feel when watching loved ones go through dementia. Other actors like Mark Gatiss, Imogen Poots, Rufus Sewell and Olivia Williams provide some solid support work too.

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This movie is directed by Florian Zeller, and from looking at the premise and at the images, you would initially expect a very static and standard direction. However, it’s anything but that. As said previously, the movie puts you in the headspace of Hopkins, and the direction plays a large part in that. The editing, arrangement of the scenes and more, all of it is handled in a way that confuses us along with our protagonist. The music and sound mixing were incredibly effective too.

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The Father really does deserve all of the acclaim and awards attention it has been receiving. It’s a tragic and heartbreaking, yet unique, well-constructed and greatly made movie and portrayal of dementia. Even if you aren’t as into the movie or story as I was, the performances along make it worth watching, with Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman being absolutely tremendous (with Hopkins delivering some career best work here). It’s not a movie I want to revisit but it’s one I’m glad I saw, and I think it’s worth watching.

The Favourite (2018) Review

Time: 120 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Sexual material, offensive language and content that may disturb
Cast:
Olivia Colman as Anne
Emma Stone as Abigail Hill
Rachel Weisz as Sarah Churchill
Nicholas Hoult as Robert Harley
Joe Alwyn as Samuel Masham
Mark Gatiss as John Churchill
James Smith as Sidney Godolphin
Jenny Rainsford as Mae
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

In the early 18th century, England is at war with the French. Nevertheless, duck racing and pineapple eating are thriving. A frail Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) occupies the throne, and her close friend Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) governs the country in her stead while tending to Anne’s ill health and mercurial temper. When a new servant, Abigail (Emma Stone), arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah. Sarah takes Abigail under her wing, and Abigail sees a chance to return to her aristocratic roots.

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The Favourite is a movie I was looking forward to. While Yorgos Lanthimos isn’t a director for everyone, I have watched The Lobster and Killing of a Sacred Deer and I liked them both, and it would be interesting to see him take on a period piece. On top of that it’s also starring Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone and Nicholas Hoult, all very talented actors. The trailer was very weird and darkly hilarious and looked like something truly unique, so all in all I was really excited for The Favourite. Thankfully The Favourite lived up to all the hype, with the writing, performances and direction all accompanying each other excellently.

This is the first script directed by Yorgos that he didn’t write, with the script instead coming from Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara, which was written in the late 90s but was finally adapted to the big screen in 2018. While there’s still some movies I need to get around to watch, I’m pretty sure that The Favourite is the most quotable movie of the year. The dialogue is incredibly sharp, well written and hilarious. The Favourite is actually only 2 hours long and throughout that entire runtime I was really entertained, there was not a single moment where I thought the movie dragged. The Favourite really is one of the best written movies of the year. The Favourite is a dark comedy, and it definitely leans more into being a comedy than a drama. Much of the comedy is poking fun at things that happened at the time like how duck racing was a thing apparently and a very bizarre dance scene involving Rachel Weisz and another character (although the movie doesn’t fall into spoof territory either). Some of the comedy however also comes from situations as well as from the hilarious dialogue (as previously mention). At times The Favourite also leans into the more dramatic and tragic side of the story, and when it does take the forefront in some scenes, it doesn’t feel out of place and really works. The third act is especially tragic and dark. Not spoiling anything, but while I think the ending really works, I’m not quite sure what to make of the last shot of the whole film.

The cast here all did a great job. Something interesting is the way that the actors are directed here. In Yorgos’s other films, while the actors are great in their roles they all speak their dialogue and act in this very unnatural way, and it feels like a very deliberate decision by the director. With The Favourite however, they seemed to have been given much more freedom and seem to act a little more natural. The three main women, Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone are all fantastic in their roles, each giving at the very least one of their best performances of their careers. Olivia Colman plays Queen Anne and her character is very complex, with many layers to her and her behaviour constantly changing from scene to scene and sometimes within the same scene. It’s both a comedic performance and a tragic performance, and Colman effortlessly is great in the role. Rachel Weisz is great as Sarah, the queen’s ‘favourite’ at the beginning of the film, who is her advisor and often the one steering her and making the decisions for her. Emma Stone has already proven herself to be a really great actress but this is really her best performance yet as Abigail, a servant looking to work her way back up the royal ranks. Both of them are fighting over trying to be ‘The Favourite’ and like with Colman’s character, aren’t all that they initially seem to be. Sarah is at first shown to be pretty ruthless and cold, especially towards Anne, however you eventually see more sides to her and that relationship as the story goes on. Same goes for Abigail, at the beginning she is much more of a likable character and one that the audience can seemingly root for, however as time goes on she shows herself to be very manipulative and not at all how she initially appeared to be. All 3 of them have a lot to work with, with their characters being very multi-layered. They aren’t necessarily likable or what you would call ‘good people’ but they are fascinating and entertaining to watch. The supporting cast are also great but it’s Nicholas Hoult who surprisingly stands out among them. Hoult has proven his talents many times before but he really managed to make himself stand out even among the phenomenal performances by the main 3 leads. He plays such a scheming and hilarious politician character and he steals every scene that he’s in. Definitely a performance that deserves a lot more praise than he’s been receiving.

You can definitely tell that this is a Yorgos Lanthimos film with the way the film is directed. There are many parts to the film that feel weird, whether it be with the cinematography, the camera movements, the use of slow-mo, it has that familiar strange vibe that you get from Lanthimos’s other films, and I loved it. The Favourite really is a period piece movie like you’ve never seen it before. With that said, the production design, costumes, really all of those aspects at a level of quality that you’d expect from most period piece movies, it feels authentic in its setting. The use of music was also really great, and really added a lot to the film whenever it was used. The only negative I found with the direction was the use of fish eye lens. I get that it was used to give off a really off-putting and weird vibe, but some of the wide angle shots did that well enough, going fish eye was a little overkill and it was more often than not used in just random moments that don’t call for that. It’s a tad distracting but nothing movie-breaking.

With its killer script, great direction and fantastic performances, The Favourite is one of the best films of the year. It’s also my favourite film by Yorgos Lanthimos, it’s certainly his most entertaining and accessible movie. Definitely a big awards player (and deservedly so), The Favourite is worth a watch whenever you can see it.

Locke (2013) Review

Time: 85 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language
Cast
Tom Hardy as Ivan Locke
Ruth Wilson as Katrina Locke
Olivia Colman as Bethan Maguire
Andrew Scott as Donal
Ben Daniels as Gareth
Tom Holland as Eddie Locke
Bill Milner as Sean Locke
Director: Steven Knight

Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy), a dedicated family man and successful construction manager, receives a phone call on the eve of the biggest challenge of his career that sets in motion a series of events that threaten his carefully cultivated existence.

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On paper, Locke seems like an impossible concept to make into a good movie. A movie that was just an hour 30 minutes of someone in a car making phone calls seemed like it would be rather boring. Don’t let that concept put you off, because Locke is truly great. Along with a brilliant script and impressive direction, lead Tom Hardy gives one of the best performances I’ve seen in a very long time. Locke is worth watching even just for Hardy’s performance.

As I said, this movie is about one man in a car making phone calls, for about 90 minutes. In order for this to work the script would need to be something incredible. Thankfully, Steven Knight’s script is brilliant and holds your attention from start to finish. I wouldn’t say that this film is very structured, it played out in real life, there are several things going on at once. I guess one of the subplots which involves something happening at Locke’s work isn’t quite as interesting as the others, but it’s still pretty good. I don’t want to go into too much depth about the plotlines and what is driving him to make certain decisions because I don’t want to spoil anything, I think its better experiencing and finding out for yourself. I was riveted from start to finish and given its concept, that’s very admirable. I guess if you aren’t into dialogue driven movies, you probably will find this a little boring and uninteresting. But I do recommend giving it a chance, even if you don’t usually watch these kinds of films.

This whole movie is basically Tom Hardy’s. This is one of Tom Hardy’s all time best performances, and considering all the spectacular performances he’s given, that’s really saying a lot. There are some moments where Tom Hardy is just in the car driving without speaking and he can convey his emotions so clearly. He’s also incredibly subtle, considering many of the things that are going on and that he’s dealing with, he doesn’t feel over the top or showy at any point. I also thought the change in accents really worked well, and helped make him seem a lot more calm. Other actors like Andrew Scott, Olivia Colman and Tom Holland do voicework as certain characters that Hardy’s Locke phones up and they are great in their roles. But of course its Hardy who steals the show and is the highlight of the cast and the film.

There’s not much to say about the direction of the movie by writer/director Steven Knight, but it does enough to maintain your interest incredibly well. It doesn’t overshadow Hardy and really focusses in on him and his reactions, allowing us to see his reactions and performance. The moments when Hardy isn’t talking at all are great, some of the silent moments are among the best scenes of the whole film.

Locke is a fantastic movie, with a unique and risky concept executed very well by Steven Knight and with an absolutely incredible lead performance by the excellent Tom Hardy. I don’t see Locke as a movie that can be rewatched many times, but that’s not a slant against Locke, not all great movies are rewatchable. It’s at least worth watching once for Steven Knight’s great and captivating writing but most of all, Tom Hardy’s flawless performance. Definitely check it out when you can.

Murder on the Orient Express (2017) Review

Time: 114 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Adult Themes
Cast
Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot
Tom Bateman as Bouc
Penélope Cruz as Pilar Estravados
Willem Dafoe as Gerhard
Judi Dench as Princess Dragomiroff
Johnny Depp as Samuel Ratchett
Josh Gad as Hector MacQueen
Derek Jacobi as Edward Henry Masterman
Leslie Odom Jr. as Dr. Arbuthnot
Michelle Pfeiffer as Caroline Hubbard
Daisy Ridley as Mary Debenham
Marwan Kenzari as Pierre Michel
Olivia Colman as Hildegarde Schmidt
Director: Kenneth Branagh

A lavish trip through Europe quickly unfolds into a race against time to solve a murder aboard a train. Everyone’s a suspect when Detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) arrives to interrogate all passengers and search for clues before the killer can strike again.

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I was curious about Murder on the Orient Express, I had never read the original book or watched any adaptations. It was the cast and crew involved that had me interested, especially with Kenneth Branagh directing and starring. As someone who hasn’t seen any version of the story beforehand, I ended up thoroughly enjoyed Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express. The performances (particularly from Kenneth Branagh) and the direction really make this movie. It does have some issues (particularly with its characters) but its good elements far outweigh the weaker elements overall.

I can’t comment on any similarities and differences between this and the original book or other adaptations, so I’ll just treat it as its own thing. It’s not a flashy typical Hollywood whodunit, it is slower paced and feels restrained. I can see a lot of people getting bored of this movie so if you’re going to see it just know that it is very slow paced. The pacing didn’t bother me personally, it felt just right. I was quite intrigued throughout the whole movie, my attention didn’t waver once. This movie has a surprisingly amount of effective humour, especially from Branagh’s Poirot. One issue that I had is that there is so much going on that at times it is hard to follow. At the end, even though I understood most of what happened, I had to look up the plot to clarify certain things. You have to be paying close attention or you could miss details, I know because I was paying attention and I didn’t pick up all of it. The second problem and probably the biggest problem is the handling of the supporting characters. The supporting characters aren’t developed or fleshed out that well. You might be able to remember some aspect about them (like in terms of the actor or the character’s job) but that’s about it. So when names are being thrown all about by Poirot as he theorises what happened, it’s a little jarring and at times hard to follow what’s going on. Its hard to remember these supporting characters, I can barely remember any of the supporting characters’ names, save for a couple.

This movie has a lot of A list actors but the true star of this movie is Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot. He is a little over the top but it works, Hercule is a quirky and likable character and its basically worth watching the movie for this performance alone. Also he manages to sell that over the top handlebar moustache. We have a large and talented supporting cast with Willem Dafoe, Daisy Ridley, Judi Dench, Josh Gad, Michelle Pfeiffer, Olivia Colman, Penelope Cruz, Leslie Odom Jr., Johnny Depp and others. For many of those who have had long careers like Judi Dench and Willem Dafoe, their performances here aren’t going to rank up as one of their best but they play their part well, in fact everyone plays their parts rather well. A stand out to me was Josh Gad, who surprised me, he’s usually known for comedic roles in movies like Frozen and Beauty and the Beast. But here he proves that he is really good in a dramatic role. Even Johnny Depp was good, granted his performance was one of the weaker performances and he doesn’t have a massive amount of screentime. As I said, the actors played their roles well, it’s just that the characters really weren’t that fleshed out that well aside from Hercule. I have no issues about the acting however.

Kenneth Branagh directs the film very well. The cinematography is truly great, it’s beautiful looking. The long takes also help show just how big of scale everything is. It makes use of its locations very well. The editing also was top notch and worked well, especially in the scenes where Poirot is piecing together what happened.

I’m not sure how much you’ll like 2017 Murder on the Orient Express. I think you will at the very least appreciate and enjoy Kenneth Branagh’s performance and his direction. Personally, I really liked it, with the acting (especially from Kenneth Branagh) and the direction and the plot which is mostly done well. There are some aspects that didn’t quite work in terms of some of the characters but for the most part this movie does everything right. Branagh has mentioned that he was interested in doing more films with the character of Poirot and I am completely on board for that. I’d love to see him make a return.