Items

--------- > [{"id":"5c6a303e86ae5f179446309f","title":"Mektoub, My Love","subtitle":null,"furl":"mektoub-love","urlOverride":"mektoub-love","publications":[{"id":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","amp":null,"preview":null,"name":"Empire","urlSlugHide":true,"furl":"empire","stationCode":"","language":"en","hostname":{"id":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5","primary":"https://stg.empireonline.com"},"composed":{"hostname":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5"}}],"primarySyndicatePosition":0,"categories":[{"id":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f8","name":"Reviews","furl":"reviews","parent":{"id":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f5","name":"Movies","furl":"movies"},"composed":{"parent":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f5"}}],"pageTemplate":"review","nutshell":"Wannabe filmmaker/photographer Amin (Shaïn Boumédine) returns from Paris to his home, a South of France fishing port. He re-connects with Ophélie (Ophélie Bau), who is both engaged and having an affair, but becomes the focus of the attention for holidaymakers Céline (Lou Luttiau) and Charlotte (Alexia Chardard). It’s just the start of a long summer of romantic shenanigans.","verdict":"It goes nowhere fast and Kechiche’s camera consistently ogles his female cast but he remains a terrific director of actors, the intimacy and authenticity conveying a real lust for life to sweeten the hefty running time.","rating":"3","film":[{"id":"5c69a63186ae5f17944422f8","furl":"mektoub-love","title":"Mektoub, My Love","website":"","heroImage":[{"id":"5c69a63186ae5f17944422f7","altText":"Mektoub, My Love","caption":"Mektoub, My Love","credits":"TMDB","image":{"fileName":"3SIUJtpudNA9JbU0QQFp6j2XiuL.jpg","name":"3SIUJtpudNA9JbU0QQFp6j2XiuL.jpg","width":1280,"height":720,"mimeType":"image/jpeg","path":"one/empire-tmdb/films/337676/images"}}],"composed":{"heroImage":["5c69a63186ae5f17944422f7"]}}],"published":{"state":"published","scheduledEnd":null,"wasPublished":true},"target":"international","isLegacy":true,"legacy":{"id":"5c66d257133d503e3a46cf9b","collection":"reviews_films","publication":"empire","furl":"mektoub-love","url":"movies/mektoub-love/review/","cms":"http://bantam.empireonline.com/edit.php?c=reviews_films.content&_id=5c66d257133d503e3a46cf9b","urlHistory":[],"createdAt":1550242391007},"toplistFeature":false,"hiddenArticle":false,"excerpt":"In outline, Abdellatif Kechiche’s follow up to Blue Is The Warmest Colour is...","metaTitle":"","metaDescription":"The director of Blue Is The Warmest Colour returns. Read the Empire review.","sourceText":null,"sourceUrl":null,"_layout":[{"content":"Mektoub, My Love","type":"title"},{"content":{"id":"5c6a303d86ae5f179446309e","altText":"Mektoub, My Love","caption":"","credits":"","image":{"fileName":"mektoub.jpg","name":"mektoub.jpg","path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c66d257133d503e3a46cf9b","width":640,"height":480,"mimeType":"image/jpeg"}},"displayName":"Article Hero","free":true,"name":"hero","type":"heroImage"},{"content":"In outline, Abdellatif Kechiche’s follow up to *Blue Is The Warmest Colour* is like a 3-hour *Love Island*: twentysomethings gossip, flirt smoke, dance, shag in a sun-kissed locale. But, what it lacks in story and dramatic incident, *Mektoub, My Love* more than makes up for in a series of set-pieces that thrum with naturalism.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":"Set in 1994 in the South of France, the plot, as it is, follows the inscrutable Amin (Boumédine) who has an unspoken thing for Ophélie (Bau) who is having an affair with Tony (Kechiouche) who is growing bored with Charlotte (Alexia Chardard) etc. But rather than a conventional narrative, it’s a series of extended scenes that create tangible sensory experiences — a lengthy nightclub scene will have you hankering for a Kebab and an Uber home — and somehow mine depths of character and feeling through simply observation.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":"A reminder of *Blue Is The Warmest Colour*’s candid carnality, it starts off with an extended committed sex scene between Ophélie and Tony, watched by Amin. Time and again Kechiche’s camera drools over its scantily clad female cast, a male gaze that does the film’s range of women an injustice. When his camera manages to raise itself beyond the bikini bottoms, its handheld style creates an intimacy, a sense of life being lived in the moment (in a bizarre sideline, the story takes in the real time birth of two baby lambs so immediate you expect Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan to pop up). In stretches, the veracity is thrilling to watch.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":{"url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKvg8wEUYug","provider":"youtube"},"displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"embeds"},{"content":"But the film suffers from repetitions and longueurs. Part of the problem is the central character. While newcomer Shaïn Boumédine is suitably sensitive and sympathetic, Amin remains an essentially passive and unknowable presence which creates a lack of dynamism at the film’s centre. But if you surrender to its rhythms and get drawn in by the unaffected performances, long stretches of Kechiche’s film are intoxicating.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"}],"heroImage":[{"id":"5c6a303d86ae5f179446309e","altText":"Mektoub, My Love","caption":"","credits":"","image":{"fileName":"mektoub.jpg","name":"mektoub.jpg","path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c66d257133d503e3a46cf9b","width":640,"height":480,"mimeType":"image/jpeg"}}],"content":["In outline, Abdellatif Kechiche’s follow up to *Blue Is The Warmest Colour* is like a 3-hour *Love Island*: twentysomethings gossip, flirt smoke, dance, shag in a sun-kissed locale. But, what it lacks in story and dramatic incident, *Mektoub, My Love* more than makes up for in a series of set-pieces that thrum with naturalism.","Set in 1994 in the South of France, the plot, as it is, follows the inscrutable Amin (Boumédine) who has an unspoken thing for Ophélie (Bau) who is having an affair with Tony (Kechiouche) who is growing bored with Charlotte (Alexia Chardard) etc. But rather than a conventional narrative, it’s a series of extended scenes that create tangible sensory experiences — a lengthy nightclub scene will have you hankering for a Kebab and an Uber home — and somehow mine depths of character and feeling through simply observation.","A reminder of *Blue Is The Warmest Colour*’s candid carnality, it starts off with an extended committed sex scene between Ophélie and Tony, watched by Amin. Time and again Kechiche’s camera drools over its scantily clad female cast, a male gaze that does the film’s range of women an injustice. When his camera manages to raise itself beyond the bikini bottoms, its handheld style creates an intimacy, a sense of life being lived in the moment (in a bizarre sideline, the story takes in the real time birth of two baby lambs so immediate you expect Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan to pop up). In stretches, the veracity is thrilling to watch.","But the film suffers from repetitions and longueurs. Part of the problem is the central character. While newcomer Shaïn Boumédine is suitably sensitive and sympathetic, Amin remains an essentially passive and unknowable presence which creates a lack of dynamism at the film’s centre. But if you surrender to its rhythms and get drawn in by the unaffected performances, long stretches of Kechiche’s film are intoxicating."],"embeds":[{"url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKvg8wEUYug","provider":"youtube"}],"images":[],"imageGalleries":[],"pullQuotes":[],"publicationDate":1550242140000,"author":{"id":"5a0ecfd9d7aa8e33ecab37c3","fullname":"Willow Green"},"author_custom":"Ian Freer","apiVersion":"1.0","createdAt":1550242391007,"createdBy":"testClient","v":1,"primaryPublication":{"id":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","preview":null,"name":"Empire","urlSlugHide":true,"furl":"empire","stationCode":"","language":"en","googleAnalyticsId":"","fbiaAudienceNetworkPlacement1":"","hostname":{"id":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5","primary":"https://stg.empireonline.com"},"composed":{"hostname":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5"}},"urls":["empire/movies/reviews/mektoub-love/"],"composed":{"heroImage":["5c6a303d86ae5f179446309e"],"author":"5a0ecfd9d7aa8e33ecab37c3","images":[],"imageGalleries":[],"publications":["5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74"],"categories":["5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f8"],"primaryPublication":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","film":["5c69a63186ae5f17944422f8"]}},{"id":"5c6a303d86ae5f179446309d","title":"Jellyfish","subtitle":null,"furl":"jellyfish","urlOverride":"jellyfish","publications":[{"id":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","amp":null,"preview":null,"name":"Empire","urlSlugHide":true,"furl":"empire","stationCode":"","language":"en","hostname":{"id":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5","primary":"https://stg.empireonline.com"},"composed":{"hostname":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5"}}],"primarySyndicatePosition":0,"categories":[{"id":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f8","name":"Reviews","furl":"reviews","parent":{"id":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f5","name":"Movies","furl":"movies"},"composed":{"parent":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f5"}}],"pageTemplate":"review","nutshell":"Teenager Sarah Taylor (Liv Hill) has it tough: she has a bipolar mother (Sinead Matthews), is raising her young twin siblings, has no friends and is reduced to giving handjobs in back alleys to finance the family. Yet she finds an unlikely outlet for her story: stand-up comedy.","verdict":"Jellyfish is a familiar but compassionately drawn portrait of hardscrabble lives, centred by a terrific performance by Liv Hill.","rating":"3","film":[{"id":"5c69a63186ae5f17944422f6","furl":"jellyfish","title":"Jellyfish","website":"","heroImage":[{"id":"5c69a63186ae5f17944422f5","altText":"Jellyfish","caption":"Jellyfish","credits":"TMDB","image":{"fileName":"vtKilND10AHxghQ862fp1SaJEfO.jpg","name":"vtKilND10AHxghQ862fp1SaJEfO.jpg","width":1296,"height":730,"mimeType":"image/jpeg","path":"one/empire-tmdb/films/463157/images"}}],"composed":{"heroImage":["5c69a63186ae5f17944422f5"]}}],"published":{"state":"published","scheduledEnd":null,"wasPublished":true},"target":"international","isLegacy":true,"legacy":{"id":"5c66cd7d133d503e3a46cedb","collection":"reviews_films","publication":"empire","furl":"jellyfish","url":"movies/jellyfish/review/","cms":"http://bantam.empireonline.com/edit.php?c=reviews_films.content&_id=5c66cd7d133d503e3a46cedb","urlHistory":[],"createdAt":1550241149415},"toplistFeature":false,"hiddenArticle":false,"excerpt":"Set in the kind of depressed seaside town in winter that Morrissey writes...","metaTitle":"","metaDescription":"Liv Hill makes a move for stand-up comedy in this drama. Read the Empire review.","sourceText":null,"sourceUrl":null,"_layout":[{"content":"Jellyfish","type":"title"},{"content":{"id":"5c6a303d86ae5f179446309b","altText":"Jellyfish","caption":"","credits":"","image":{"fileName":"jellyfish.jpg","name":"jellyfish.jpg","path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c66cd7d133d503e3a46cedb","width":640,"height":480,"mimeType":"image/jpeg"}},"displayName":"Article Hero","free":true,"name":"hero","type":"heroImage"},{"content":"Set in the kind of depressed seaside town in winter that Morrissey writes songs about, James Gardner’s *Jellyfish* is a character study of troubled teenager Sarah. She is the primary caretaker in a financially/emotionally depleted family consisting of a bipolar mother (Sinead Matthews) and two lively twins (Henry Lile, Jemima Newman) too young to understand the bleakness of their circumstances.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":{"id":"5c6a303d86ae5f179446309c","image":{"path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c66cd7d133d503e3a46cedb","fileName":"jellyfish-2.jpg","name":"jellyfish-2.jpg","width":"640","height":"480","mimeType":"image/jpeg"},"caption":"","altText":"Jellyfish"},"displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"images"},{"content":"Sarah has it tough outside the nest, too. Bullied and blanked at school, she works in a low-rent amusement arcade, servicing the obese clientele with hand-shandies in a back alley for extra cash. With her mother forgetting to pay the rent, she is forced into other money-making schemes involving seducing a local estate agent king (Tomos Eames) and then blackmailing him by revealing she is under-age — the scene ends with a Hitchcockian use of a camera withdrawing from the horror into a busy street.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":"The film's MVP is Liv Hill.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"pullQuotes"},{"content":"It’s hardly a wonderful life — the avalanche of misery Gardner piles on stretches credulity — but an outlet for Sarah’s frustrations comes when her drama teacher (the ever-dependable Cyril Nri) suggests she tries stand-up comedy for an upcoming performance at a local theatre. Discovering the likes of Bill Hicks, Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Frankie Boyle and Katherine Ryan, she develops an act that is realistic and raw — but don’t expect her to land a Netflix special anytime soon.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":{"url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8-jtgz__R8","provider":"youtube"},"displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"embeds"},{"content":"The story arc is familiar, marred by contrivance (especially at the end) and it doesn’t really offer any fresh insight into marginalised lives. But it gets by on sensitivity for its dispossessed characters and the performances. Matthews as Sarah’s mother inhabits both the volatile mood swings and the knowingness that she is making her daughter’s life a nightmare. But the film’s MVP is Liv Hill (star of BBCs *Three Girls*), who presents Sarah as the model of teenage toughness and surliness but slowly reveals her more vulnerable sides. There is a tenderness to *Jellyfish* that bodes well for Gardner’s future; in testament, look out for cinema’s most poignant use of Monster Munch.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"}],"heroImage":[{"id":"5c6a303d86ae5f179446309b","altText":"Jellyfish","caption":"","credits":"","image":{"fileName":"jellyfish.jpg","name":"jellyfish.jpg","path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c66cd7d133d503e3a46cedb","width":640,"height":480,"mimeType":"image/jpeg"}}],"content":["Set in the kind of depressed seaside town in winter that Morrissey writes songs about, James Gardner’s *Jellyfish* is a character study of troubled teenager Sarah. She is the primary caretaker in a financially/emotionally depleted family consisting of a bipolar mother (Sinead Matthews) and two lively twins (Henry Lile, Jemima Newman) too young to understand the bleakness of their circumstances.","Sarah has it tough outside the nest, too. Bullied and blanked at school, she works in a low-rent amusement arcade, servicing the obese clientele with hand-shandies in a back alley for extra cash. With her mother forgetting to pay the rent, she is forced into other money-making schemes involving seducing a local estate agent king (Tomos Eames) and then blackmailing him by revealing she is under-age — the scene ends with a Hitchcockian use of a camera withdrawing from the horror into a busy street.","It’s hardly a wonderful life — the avalanche of misery Gardner piles on stretches credulity — but an outlet for Sarah’s frustrations comes when her drama teacher (the ever-dependable Cyril Nri) suggests she tries stand-up comedy for an upcoming performance at a local theatre. Discovering the likes of Bill Hicks, Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Frankie Boyle and Katherine Ryan, she develops an act that is realistic and raw — but don’t expect her to land a Netflix special anytime soon.","The story arc is familiar, marred by contrivance (especially at the end) and it doesn’t really offer any fresh insight into marginalised lives. But it gets by on sensitivity for its dispossessed characters and the performances. Matthews as Sarah’s mother inhabits both the volatile mood swings and the knowingness that she is making her daughter’s life a nightmare. But the film’s MVP is Liv Hill (star of BBCs *Three Girls*), who presents Sarah as the model of teenage toughness and surliness but slowly reveals her more vulnerable sides. There is a tenderness to *Jellyfish* that bodes well for Gardner’s future; in testament, look out for cinema’s most poignant use of Monster Munch."],"embeds":[{"url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8-jtgz__R8","provider":"youtube"}],"images":[{"id":"5c6a303d86ae5f179446309c","image":{"path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c66cd7d133d503e3a46cedb","fileName":"jellyfish-2.jpg","name":"jellyfish-2.jpg","width":"640","height":"480","mimeType":"image/jpeg"},"caption":"","altText":"Jellyfish"}],"imageGalleries":[],"pullQuotes":["The film's MVP is Liv Hill."],"publicationDate":1550240940000,"author":{"id":"5a0ecfd9d7aa8e33ecab37c3","fullname":"Willow Green"},"author_custom":"Ian Freer","apiVersion":"1.0","createdAt":1550241149415,"createdBy":"testClient","v":1,"primaryPublication":{"id":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","preview":null,"name":"Empire","urlSlugHide":true,"furl":"empire","stationCode":"","language":"en","googleAnalyticsId":"","fbiaAudienceNetworkPlacement1":"","hostname":{"id":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5","primary":"https://stg.empireonline.com"},"composed":{"hostname":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5"}},"urls":["empire/movies/reviews/jellyfish/"],"composed":{"heroImage":["5c6a303d86ae5f179446309b"],"author":"5a0ecfd9d7aa8e33ecab37c3","images":["5c6a303d86ae5f179446309c"],"imageGalleries":[],"publications":["5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74"],"categories":["5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f8"],"primaryPublication":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","film":["5c69a63186ae5f17944422f6"]}},{"id":"5c6a303d86ae5f179446309a","title":"Happy Death Day 2U","subtitle":null,"furl":"happy-death-day-2u","urlOverride":"happy-death-day-2u","publications":[{"id":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","amp":null,"preview":null,"name":"Empire","urlSlugHide":true,"furl":"empire","stationCode":"","language":"en","hostname":{"id":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5","primary":"https://stg.empireonline.com"},"composed":{"hostname":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5"}}],"primarySyndicatePosition":0,"categories":[{"id":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f8","name":"Reviews","furl":"reviews","parent":{"id":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f5","name":"Movies","furl":"movies"},"composed":{"parent":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f5"}}],"pageTemplate":"review","nutshell":"After Tree’s (Jessica Rothe) emergence from her death-defying time-loop, fellow college student Ryan (Phi Vu) starts experiencing a similar fate complete with his own masked stalker-killer. It turns out his quantum physics project might be behind the looping phenomenon — and firing the machine up again only makes things worse.","verdict":"What could have been a simple retread or by-numbers continuation instead throws itself headfirst into time-twiddling absurdity. High art? No. A total blast? You bet.","rating":"4","film":[{"id":"5c69a62f86ae5f1794442233","furl":"happy-death-day-2u","title":"Happy Death Day 2U","website":"","heroImage":[{"id":"5c69a62f86ae5f1794442232","altText":"Happy Death Day 2U","caption":"Happy Death Day 2U","credits":"TMDB","image":{"fileName":"7trJGwprMUMKhvSx94lmsq6d985.jpg","name":"7trJGwprMUMKhvSx94lmsq6d985.jpg","width":1280,"height":720,"mimeType":"image/jpeg","path":"one/empire-tmdb/films/512196/images"}}],"composed":{"heroImage":["5c69a62f86ae5f1794442232"]}}],"published":{"state":"published","scheduledEnd":null,"wasPublished":true},"target":"international","isLegacy":true,"legacy":{"id":"5c64597b133d503e3a46be16","collection":"reviews_films","publication":"empire","furl":"happy-death-day-2u","url":"movies/happy-death-day-2u/review/","cms":"http://bantam.empireonline.com/edit.php?c=reviews_films.content&_id=5c64597b133d503e3a46be16","urlHistory":[],"createdAt":1550080379479},"toplistFeature":false,"hiddenArticle":false,"excerpt":"With 2017’s Happy Death Day, budget horror maestros Blumhouse shamelessly...","metaTitle":"","metaDescription":"Blumhouse's time-loop slasher sequel returns, with hugely entertaining results. Read the Empire review.","sourceText":null,"sourceUrl":null,"_layout":[{"content":"Happy Death Day 2U","type":"title"},{"content":{"id":"5c6a303c86ae5f1794463098","altText":"Happy Death Day 2U","caption":"","credits":"","image":{"fileName":"happy-death-day-2u-1.jpg","name":"happy-death-day-2u-1.jpg","path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c64597b133d503e3a46be16","width":640,"height":480,"mimeType":"image/jpeg"}},"displayName":"Article Hero","free":true,"name":"hero","type":"heroImage"},{"content":"With 2017’s *[Happy Death Day](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/happy-death-day/)*, budget horror maestros Blumhouse shamelessly pilfered *[Groundhog Day](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/groundhog-day/review/)*’s time-loop premise and bolted on a slasher twist, tasking arboreally-named heroine Tree ([Rothe](https://www.empireonline.com/people/jessica-rothe/)) with solving her own murder. While that film revelled in its own repetition, the niftily titled *Happy Death Day 2U* cranks itself into overdrive in doing the over-and-over-again thing, well, *again*.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":{"id":"5c6a303c86ae5f1794463099","image":{"path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c64597b133d503e3a46be16","fileName":"happy-death-day-2u-2.jpg","name":"happy-death-day-2u-2.jpg","width":"640","height":"480","mimeType":"image/jpeg"},"caption":"","altText":"Happy Death Day 2U"},"displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"images"},{"content":"Exploring the timey-wimey implications of parallel dimensions, new loops and quantum meddling, *2U* is more *[Back To The Future Part II](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/back-future-part-ii/review/)* (a reference point the film itself acknowledges) meets *[Scream 2](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/scream-2/review/)*, and disproves the latter’s theory that “sequels suck”. Returning director and co-writer [Christopher Landon](https://www.empireonline.com/people/christopher-landon/) hews closely to the template of the original (there’s a brief in-film recap, but swotting up beforehand is advisable) with a sequel that’s less a re-do than a remix, restaging familiar set-ups with playful new results — this is a madder, more meta movie that gleefully pushes the high-concept and the humour further and further, reinventing, referencing and reversing upon itself with joyous abandon.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":"An entertainingly bonkers funhouse ride.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"pullQuotes"},{"content":"Committing admirably to the lunacy is Rothe, who shines in a role that demands scream-queen vulnerability, brash physical comedy and surprising levels of emotion in the film’s sole sombre thread. Elsewhere, Phi Vu’s science-bro Ryan, last time largely relegated to repeating a single line, makes plenty of his expanded role, though extra screentime for sorority mean-girl Danielle (Rachel Matthews) pushes slightly too far into slapstick silliness in the final act.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":{"url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9F_rU65U5eY","provider":"youtube"},"displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"embeds"},{"content":"If anything, *Happy Death Day 2U* is so busy having fun that it often forgets to be a slasher — but given the original’s slight, bloodless scares (both films are PG-13 in the US), it’s hard to care. The film wears its sci-fi influences brazenly, crafting them into an entertainingly bonkers funhouse ride that wisely wraps up before it runs out of steam. If there’s an inexplicable Western-themed part three, we’re in.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"}],"heroImage":[{"id":"5c6a303c86ae5f1794463098","altText":"Happy Death Day 2U","caption":"","credits":"","image":{"fileName":"happy-death-day-2u-1.jpg","name":"happy-death-day-2u-1.jpg","path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c64597b133d503e3a46be16","width":640,"height":480,"mimeType":"image/jpeg"}}],"content":["With 2017’s *[Happy Death Day](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/happy-death-day/)*, budget horror maestros Blumhouse shamelessly pilfered *[Groundhog Day](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/groundhog-day/review/)*’s time-loop premise and bolted on a slasher twist, tasking arboreally-named heroine Tree ([Rothe](https://www.empireonline.com/people/jessica-rothe/)) with solving her own murder. While that film revelled in its own repetition, the niftily titled *Happy Death Day 2U* cranks itself into overdrive in doing the over-and-over-again thing, well, *again*.","Exploring the timey-wimey implications of parallel dimensions, new loops and quantum meddling, *2U* is more *[Back To The Future Part II](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/back-future-part-ii/review/)* (a reference point the film itself acknowledges) meets *[Scream 2](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/scream-2/review/)*, and disproves the latter’s theory that “sequels suck”. Returning director and co-writer [Christopher Landon](https://www.empireonline.com/people/christopher-landon/) hews closely to the template of the original (there’s a brief in-film recap, but swotting up beforehand is advisable) with a sequel that’s less a re-do than a remix, restaging familiar set-ups with playful new results — this is a madder, more meta movie that gleefully pushes the high-concept and the humour further and further, reinventing, referencing and reversing upon itself with joyous abandon.","Committing admirably to the lunacy is Rothe, who shines in a role that demands scream-queen vulnerability, brash physical comedy and surprising levels of emotion in the film’s sole sombre thread. Elsewhere, Phi Vu’s science-bro Ryan, last time largely relegated to repeating a single line, makes plenty of his expanded role, though extra screentime for sorority mean-girl Danielle (Rachel Matthews) pushes slightly too far into slapstick silliness in the final act.","If anything, *Happy Death Day 2U* is so busy having fun that it often forgets to be a slasher — but given the original’s slight, bloodless scares (both films are PG-13 in the US), it’s hard to care. The film wears its sci-fi influences brazenly, crafting them into an entertainingly bonkers funhouse ride that wisely wraps up before it runs out of steam. If there’s an inexplicable Western-themed part three, we’re in."],"embeds":[{"url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9F_rU65U5eY","provider":"youtube"}],"images":[{"id":"5c6a303c86ae5f1794463099","image":{"path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c64597b133d503e3a46be16","fileName":"happy-death-day-2u-2.jpg","name":"happy-death-day-2u-2.jpg","width":"640","height":"480","mimeType":"image/jpeg"},"caption":"","altText":"Happy Death Day 2U"}],"imageGalleries":[],"pullQuotes":["An entertainingly bonkers funhouse ride."],"publicationDate":1550080140000,"author":{"id":"5a0ecfd9d7aa8e33ecab37c3","fullname":"Willow Green"},"author_custom":"Ben Travis","apiVersion":"1.0","createdAt":1550080379479,"createdBy":"testClient","v":1,"primaryPublication":{"id":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","preview":null,"name":"Empire","urlSlugHide":true,"furl":"empire","stationCode":"","language":"en","googleAnalyticsId":"","fbiaAudienceNetworkPlacement1":"","hostname":{"id":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5","primary":"https://stg.empireonline.com"},"composed":{"hostname":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5"}},"urls":["empire/movies/reviews/happy-death-day-2u/"],"composed":{"heroImage":["5c6a303c86ae5f1794463098"],"author":"5a0ecfd9d7aa8e33ecab37c3","images":["5c6a303c86ae5f1794463099"],"imageGalleries":[],"publications":["5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74"],"categories":["5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f8"],"primaryPublication":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","film":["5c69a62f86ae5f1794442233"]}},{"id":"5c6a303c86ae5f1794463097","title":"Instant Family","subtitle":null,"furl":"instant-family","urlOverride":"instant-family","publications":[{"id":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","amp":null,"preview":null,"name":"Empire","urlSlugHide":true,"furl":"empire","stationCode":"","language":"en","hostname":{"id":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5","primary":"https://stg.empireonline.com"},"composed":{"hostname":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5"}}],"primarySyndicatePosition":0,"categories":[{"id":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f8","name":"Reviews","furl":"reviews","parent":{"id":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f5","name":"Movies","furl":"movies"},"composed":{"parent":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f5"}}],"pageTemplate":"review","nutshell":"Previously too busy to have kids, fixer-upperers Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie (Rose Byrne) take the plunge into the world of foster caring and adopt three siblings: moody teen Lizzy (Isabela Moner), anxious middle kid Juan (Gustavo Quiroz) and adorable terror Lita (Julianna Gamiz). ","verdict":"For all its formula, Instant Family is a winning confection, unafraid to go to unexpected dramatic places and elevated by Byrne’s gift as a comedy foil and Moner’s lively but subtle turn.","rating":"3","film":[{"id":"5c69a62f86ae5f1794442219","furl":"instant-family","title":"Instant Family ","website":"","heroImage":[{"id":"5c69a62f86ae5f1794442218","altText":"Instant Family ","caption":"Instant Family ","credits":"TMDB","image":{"fileName":"hgESQ2sK21j22Yode4w99jfwj44.jpg","name":"hgESQ2sK21j22Yode4w99jfwj44.jpg","width":1920,"height":1080,"mimeType":"image/jpeg","path":"one/empire-tmdb/films/491418/images"}}],"composed":{"heroImage":["5c69a62f86ae5f1794442218"]}}],"published":{"state":"published","scheduledEnd":null,"wasPublished":true},"target":"international","isLegacy":true,"legacy":{"id":"5c62bc44133d503e3a46af2f","collection":"reviews_films","publication":"empire","furl":"instant-family","url":"movies/instant-family/review/","cms":"http://bantam.empireonline.com/edit.php?c=reviews_films.content&_id=5c62bc44133d503e3a46af2f","urlHistory":[],"createdAt":1549974596191},"toplistFeature":false,"hiddenArticle":false,"excerpt":"There’s something about the ingredients of Instant Family that screams...","metaTitle":"","metaDescription":"Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne try adoption in Sean Anders' comedy. Read the Empire review.","sourceText":null,"sourceUrl":null,"_layout":[{"content":"Instant Family","type":"title"},{"content":{"id":"5c6a303b86ae5f1794463095","altText":"Instant Family ","caption":"","credits":"","image":{"fileName":"instant-family-1.jpg","name":"instant-family-1.jpg","path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c62bc44133d503e3a46af2f","width":640,"height":480,"mimeType":"image/jpeg"}},"displayName":"Article Hero","free":true,"name":"hero","type":"heroImage"},{"content":"There’s something about the ingredients of *[Instant Family](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/instant-family/)* that screams generic: [Mark Wahlberg](https://www.empireonline.com/people/mark-wahlberg/), the director of *[Daddy’s Home](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/daddy-home/review/)*, family comedy with lessons to learn, will probably find its audience on Channel 5. But [Sean Anders](https://www.empireonline.com/people/sean-anders/)’ film, based on his own experiences of fostering children, is closer to something like *[Parenthood](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/parenthood/review/)* than a broad knockabout comedy with a cloying message tacked on. It doesn’t all come off, but for the most part it is an engaging, entertaining comedy-drama with its heart in the right place.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":{"id":"5c6a303b86ae5f1794463096","image":{"path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c62bc44133d503e3a46af2f","fileName":"instant-family-2.jpg","name":"instant-family-2.jpg","width":"640","height":"480","mimeType":"image/jpeg"},"caption":"","altText":"Instant Family "},"displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"images"},{"content":"Inspired by the shiny, happy faces on an adoption website, house renovators Pete (Wahlberg) and Ellie ([Byrne](https://www.empireonline.com/people/rose-byrne/)), trying to get a head start in the family stakes by taking on a five-year-old, dive into a foster training scheme run by warm Karen ([Octavia Spencer](https://www.empireonline.com/people/octavia-spencer/)) and weird Sharon (Tig Notaro). In these early sequences, the films give wannabe parents their time to shine — best of the bunch is Iliza Shlesinger, who plays a woman named October hell-bent on adopting a black child because of *[The Blind Side](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/blind-side-2/review/)*.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":"Rose Byrne is particularly effective as the anxious-to-please Ellie.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"pullQuotes"},{"content":"Ultimately Pete and Ellie decide to take on a trio of Latinx kids: sparky teen Lizzy (Moner), traumatised middle kid Juan (Quiroz, who is a trouper for the amount of physical comedy he endures) and terrifying toddler Lita (Gamiz). What follows is a predictable but likeable look at the joys and pains of inexperienced parents and battle-hardened kids, building to a last-reel spanner in the works when a biological parent turns up on the scene.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":"Amid the bonding shenanigans, director Sean Anders doesn’t really unify tonal shifts between spiky comedy (dick pic shtick) and weapons-grade schmaltz with a more serious look at the US fostering system. But it wins out mostly on performance; while Wahlberg does his sensitive-but-exasperated regular guy routine well enough, Byrne is particularly effective as the anxious-to-please Ellie. But the garlands here go to [Isabela Moner](https://www.empireonline.com/people/isabela-moner/), Wahlberg’s own pick after working with her on *[Transformers: The Last Knight](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/transformers-last-knight/review/)*. She delivers a welcome touch of truth to a teen, by turns sweet and caring towards her siblings, then volatile and angry to her guardians (“You’re just another white lady who wants to adopt charity orphans to feel good about yourself!” she tells Ellie). Lizzy is the most rounded character in the piece and that is largely down to Moner.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":{"url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26R6JVJ6KOw","provider":"youtube"},"displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"embeds"},{"content":"While it barrels to its inevitable happy ending, *Instant Family* is clear-eyed enough to know that the future for any foster kid is not cut and dried. Its belief that the power of unconditional love can make lives better, if only for a short time, is persuasive, heartfelt and true. And that transcends generic.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"}],"heroImage":[{"id":"5c6a303b86ae5f1794463095","altText":"Instant Family ","caption":"","credits":"","image":{"fileName":"instant-family-1.jpg","name":"instant-family-1.jpg","path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c62bc44133d503e3a46af2f","width":640,"height":480,"mimeType":"image/jpeg"}}],"content":["There’s something about the ingredients of *[Instant Family](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/instant-family/)* that screams generic: [Mark Wahlberg](https://www.empireonline.com/people/mark-wahlberg/), the director of *[Daddy’s Home](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/daddy-home/review/)*, family comedy with lessons to learn, will probably find its audience on Channel 5. But [Sean Anders](https://www.empireonline.com/people/sean-anders/)’ film, based on his own experiences of fostering children, is closer to something like *[Parenthood](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/parenthood/review/)* than a broad knockabout comedy with a cloying message tacked on. It doesn’t all come off, but for the most part it is an engaging, entertaining comedy-drama with its heart in the right place.","Inspired by the shiny, happy faces on an adoption website, house renovators Pete (Wahlberg) and Ellie ([Byrne](https://www.empireonline.com/people/rose-byrne/)), trying to get a head start in the family stakes by taking on a five-year-old, dive into a foster training scheme run by warm Karen ([Octavia Spencer](https://www.empireonline.com/people/octavia-spencer/)) and weird Sharon (Tig Notaro). In these early sequences, the films give wannabe parents their time to shine — best of the bunch is Iliza Shlesinger, who plays a woman named October hell-bent on adopting a black child because of *[The Blind Side](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/blind-side-2/review/)*.","Ultimately Pete and Ellie decide to take on a trio of Latinx kids: sparky teen Lizzy (Moner), traumatised middle kid Juan (Quiroz, who is a trouper for the amount of physical comedy he endures) and terrifying toddler Lita (Gamiz). What follows is a predictable but likeable look at the joys and pains of inexperienced parents and battle-hardened kids, building to a last-reel spanner in the works when a biological parent turns up on the scene.","Amid the bonding shenanigans, director Sean Anders doesn’t really unify tonal shifts between spiky comedy (dick pic shtick) and weapons-grade schmaltz with a more serious look at the US fostering system. But it wins out mostly on performance; while Wahlberg does his sensitive-but-exasperated regular guy routine well enough, Byrne is particularly effective as the anxious-to-please Ellie. But the garlands here go to [Isabela Moner](https://www.empireonline.com/people/isabela-moner/), Wahlberg’s own pick after working with her on *[Transformers: The Last Knight](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/transformers-last-knight/review/)*. She delivers a welcome touch of truth to a teen, by turns sweet and caring towards her siblings, then volatile and angry to her guardians (“You’re just another white lady who wants to adopt charity orphans to feel good about yourself!” she tells Ellie). Lizzy is the most rounded character in the piece and that is largely down to Moner.","While it barrels to its inevitable happy ending, *Instant Family* is clear-eyed enough to know that the future for any foster kid is not cut and dried. Its belief that the power of unconditional love can make lives better, if only for a short time, is persuasive, heartfelt and true. And that transcends generic."],"embeds":[{"url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26R6JVJ6KOw","provider":"youtube"}],"images":[{"id":"5c6a303b86ae5f1794463096","image":{"path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c62bc44133d503e3a46af2f","fileName":"instant-family-2.jpg","name":"instant-family-2.jpg","width":"640","height":"480","mimeType":"image/jpeg"},"caption":"","altText":"Instant Family "}],"imageGalleries":[],"pullQuotes":["Rose Byrne is particularly effective as the anxious-to-please Ellie."],"publicationDate":1549974360000,"author":{"id":"5a0ecfd9d7aa8e33ecab37c3","fullname":"Willow Green"},"author_custom":"Ian Freer","apiVersion":"1.0","createdAt":1549974596191,"createdBy":"testClient","v":1,"primaryPublication":{"id":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","preview":null,"name":"Empire","urlSlugHide":true,"furl":"empire","stationCode":"","language":"en","googleAnalyticsId":"","fbiaAudienceNetworkPlacement1":"","hostname":{"id":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5","primary":"https://stg.empireonline.com"},"composed":{"hostname":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5"}},"urls":["empire/movies/reviews/instant-family/"],"composed":{"heroImage":["5c6a303b86ae5f1794463095"],"author":"5a0ecfd9d7aa8e33ecab37c3","images":["5c6a303b86ae5f1794463096"],"imageGalleries":[],"publications":["5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74"],"categories":["5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f8"],"primaryPublication":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","film":["5c69a62f86ae5f1794442219"]}},{"id":"5c6a303b86ae5f1794463094","title":"A Private War","subtitle":null,"furl":"private-war","urlOverride":"private-war","publications":[{"id":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","amp":null,"preview":null,"name":"Empire","urlSlugHide":true,"furl":"empire","stationCode":"","language":"en","hostname":{"id":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5","primary":"https://stg.empireonline.com"},"composed":{"hostname":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5"}}],"primarySyndicatePosition":0,"categories":[{"id":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f8","name":"Reviews","furl":"reviews","parent":{"id":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f5","name":"Movies","furl":"movies"},"composed":{"parent":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f5"}}],"pageTemplate":"review","nutshell":"During the final 11 years of Sunday Times foreign correspondent Marie Colvin’s (Rosamund Pike) life, she struggles with PTSD and the loss of an eye, while continuing to report from war zones like Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria, where she strives to expose the true human cost of modern conflict to the world.","verdict":"A sometimes clunkily executed true-life story which at least has potency in its blend of subject matter and lead actor. Despite often being hard to watch, this is Rosamund Pike’s best work yet.","rating":"3","film":[{"id":"5c69a62f86ae5f17944421ff","furl":"private-war","title":"A Private War ","website":"","heroImage":[{"id":"5c69a62f86ae5f17944421fe","altText":"A Private War ","caption":"A Private War ","credits":"TMDB","image":{"fileName":"i7NkhNDFHRYGUtHSKFm1X7EMEa1.jpg","name":"i7NkhNDFHRYGUtHSKFm1X7EMEa1.jpg","width":3840,"height":2160,"mimeType":"image/jpeg","path":"one/empire-tmdb/films/475132/images"}}],"composed":{"heroImage":["5c69a62f86ae5f17944421fe"]}}],"published":{"state":"published","scheduledEnd":null,"wasPublished":true},"target":"international","isLegacy":true,"legacy":{"id":"5c616e4afd0c0bc8444abe41","collection":"reviews_films","publication":"empire","furl":"private-war","url":"movies/private-war/review/","cms":"http://bantam.empireonline.com/edit.php?c=reviews_films.content&_id=5c616e4afd0c0bc8444abe41","urlHistory":[],"createdAt":1549889098691},"toplistFeature":false,"hiddenArticle":false,"excerpt":"The transition from cinematic documentarian to narrative feature-maker is not...","metaTitle":"","metaDescription":"Rosamund Pike plays war journalist Marie Colin in this biopic. Read the Empire review.","sourceText":null,"sourceUrl":null,"_layout":[{"content":"A Private War","type":"title"},{"content":{"id":"5c6a303b86ae5f1794463092","altText":"A Private War","caption":"","credits":"","image":{"fileName":"a-private-war-1.jpg","name":"a-private-war-1.jpg","path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c616e4afd0c0bc8444abe41","width":640,"height":480,"mimeType":"image/jpeg"}},"displayName":"Article Hero","free":true,"name":"hero","type":"heroImage"},{"content":"The transition from cinematic documentarian to narrative feature-maker is not always the easiest — just ask Joe Berlinger, praised for *Paradise Lost: The Child Murders At Robin Hood Hills* then ridiculed for *[Book Of Shadows: Blair Witch 2](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/book-shadows-blair-witch-2/review/)*. So with his debut narrative movie *[A Private War](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/private-war/)*, director Matthew Heineman (who was Oscar-nominated for 2015’s superb Mexican drug war-investigating *[Cartel Land](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/cartel-land/review/)*) wisely keeps the subject and style close to his non-fiction roots. Focusing on the final decade-or-so of celebrated war journalist Marie Colvin’s life, his film forebodingly counts down to the event in Syria that would finally silence her fierce and resonant voice. All the way, he sticks uncomfortably close to reality, even weaving in audio of Colvin herself as voiceover.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":{"id":"5c6a303b86ae5f1794463093","image":{"path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c616e4afd0c0bc8444abe41","fileName":"a-private-war-2.jpg","name":"a-private-war-2.jpg","width":"640","height":"480","mimeType":"image/jpeg"},"caption":"","altText":"A Private War"},"displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"images"},{"content":"Yet there is a sense that, with a true-life story this strong, why not just make it as a documentary? At times you wish you were hearing more from the real Colvin, or the reflections of her contemporaries and surviving colleagues, rather than absorbing the heavy-handed swings of *[Grace Of Monaco](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/grace-monaco/review/)* writer Arash Amel’s script (adapted from Marie Brenner’s 2012 *Vanity Fair* article on Colvin). It’s a disappointingly tell-rather-than-show affair, where dialogue scenes clunk and creak as Colvin’s passion and arguably self-destructive drive are repeatedly spelled out for us: “You’ve seen more war than most soldiers,” her photographer Paul Conroy ([Jamie Dornan](https://www.empireonline.com/people/jamie-dornan/)) says unnecessarily; “You have a God-given talent to make people stop and care,” her editor Sean Ryan ([Tom Hollander](https://www.empireonline.com/people/tom-hollander/)) pointlessly points out.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":"Despite the warzone-to-warzone countdown structure, it is also a film that frustratingly lacks momentum, tugging us back and forth between the screaming gunfire of Colvin’s frontline assignments and her listless, trauma-punctured interludes back in London.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":"It becomes repetitive rather than revelatory, only really hitting its stride when we eventually arrive at the horrors of Homs, in Syria.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":{"url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwikA_IlwSk","provider":"youtube"},"displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"embeds"},{"content":"Fortunately, Heineman does play a pair of aces. One is cinematographer Robert Richardson, who also shoots for [Oliver Stone](https://www.empireonline.com/people/oliver-stone/) and [Quentin Tarantino](https://www.empireonline.com/people/quentin-tarantino/), and here captures Colvin’s experiences with a queasy, handheld immediacy. The other is [Rosamund Pike](https://www.empireonline.com/people/rosamund-pike/) as Colvin, who delivers what feels less like a performance than an act of possession. After *[Gone Girl](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/gone-girl/review/)* and last year’s ultra-harsh Western *[Hostiles](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/hostiles/review/)*, Pike once again throws herself into territory you imagine few other actors would dare to tread, tearing away at Colvin’s layers and baring her soul in a way that no documentary could. It is career-peak work, the truthful tour-de-force that Colvin deserves — albeit one which you might wish were better serviced by the script.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"}],"heroImage":[{"id":"5c6a303b86ae5f1794463092","altText":"A Private War","caption":"","credits":"","image":{"fileName":"a-private-war-1.jpg","name":"a-private-war-1.jpg","path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c616e4afd0c0bc8444abe41","width":640,"height":480,"mimeType":"image/jpeg"}}],"content":["The transition from cinematic documentarian to narrative feature-maker is not always the easiest — just ask Joe Berlinger, praised for *Paradise Lost: The Child Murders At Robin Hood Hills* then ridiculed for *[Book Of Shadows: Blair Witch 2](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/book-shadows-blair-witch-2/review/)*. So with his debut narrative movie *[A Private War](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/private-war/)*, director Matthew Heineman (who was Oscar-nominated for 2015’s superb Mexican drug war-investigating *[Cartel Land](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/cartel-land/review/)*) wisely keeps the subject and style close to his non-fiction roots. Focusing on the final decade-or-so of celebrated war journalist Marie Colvin’s life, his film forebodingly counts down to the event in Syria that would finally silence her fierce and resonant voice. All the way, he sticks uncomfortably close to reality, even weaving in audio of Colvin herself as voiceover.","Yet there is a sense that, with a true-life story this strong, why not just make it as a documentary? At times you wish you were hearing more from the real Colvin, or the reflections of her contemporaries and surviving colleagues, rather than absorbing the heavy-handed swings of *[Grace Of Monaco](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/grace-monaco/review/)* writer Arash Amel’s script (adapted from Marie Brenner’s 2012 *Vanity Fair* article on Colvin). It’s a disappointingly tell-rather-than-show affair, where dialogue scenes clunk and creak as Colvin’s passion and arguably self-destructive drive are repeatedly spelled out for us: “You’ve seen more war than most soldiers,” her photographer Paul Conroy ([Jamie Dornan](https://www.empireonline.com/people/jamie-dornan/)) says unnecessarily; “You have a God-given talent to make people stop and care,” her editor Sean Ryan ([Tom Hollander](https://www.empireonline.com/people/tom-hollander/)) pointlessly points out.","Despite the warzone-to-warzone countdown structure, it is also a film that frustratingly lacks momentum, tugging us back and forth between the screaming gunfire of Colvin’s frontline assignments and her listless, trauma-punctured interludes back in London.","It becomes repetitive rather than revelatory, only really hitting its stride when we eventually arrive at the horrors of Homs, in Syria.","Fortunately, Heineman does play a pair of aces. One is cinematographer Robert Richardson, who also shoots for [Oliver Stone](https://www.empireonline.com/people/oliver-stone/) and [Quentin Tarantino](https://www.empireonline.com/people/quentin-tarantino/), and here captures Colvin’s experiences with a queasy, handheld immediacy. The other is [Rosamund Pike](https://www.empireonline.com/people/rosamund-pike/) as Colvin, who delivers what feels less like a performance than an act of possession. After *[Gone Girl](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/gone-girl/review/)* and last year’s ultra-harsh Western *[Hostiles](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/hostiles/review/)*, Pike once again throws herself into territory you imagine few other actors would dare to tread, tearing away at Colvin’s layers and baring her soul in a way that no documentary could. It is career-peak work, the truthful tour-de-force that Colvin deserves — albeit one which you might wish were better serviced by the script."],"embeds":[{"url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwikA_IlwSk","provider":"youtube"}],"images":[{"id":"5c6a303b86ae5f1794463093","image":{"path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c616e4afd0c0bc8444abe41","fileName":"a-private-war-2.jpg","name":"a-private-war-2.jpg","width":"640","height":"480","mimeType":"image/jpeg"},"caption":"","altText":"A Private War"}],"imageGalleries":[],"pullQuotes":[],"publicationDate":1549888860000,"author":{"id":"5a0ecfd9d7aa8e33ecab37c3","fullname":"Willow Green"},"author_custom":"Dan Jolin","apiVersion":"1.0","createdAt":1549889098691,"createdBy":"testClient","v":1,"primaryPublication":{"id":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","preview":null,"name":"Empire","urlSlugHide":true,"furl":"empire","stationCode":"","language":"en","googleAnalyticsId":"","fbiaAudienceNetworkPlacement1":"","hostname":{"id":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5","primary":"https://stg.empireonline.com"},"composed":{"hostname":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5"}},"urls":["empire/movies/reviews/private-war/"],"composed":{"heroImage":["5c6a303b86ae5f1794463092"],"author":"5a0ecfd9d7aa8e33ecab37c3","images":["5c6a303b86ae5f1794463093"],"imageGalleries":[],"publications":["5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74"],"categories":["5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f8"],"primaryPublication":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","film":["5c69a62f86ae5f17944421ff"]}},{"id":"5c6a303b86ae5f1794463091","title":"América","subtitle":null,"furl":"rica","urlOverride":"rica","publications":[{"id":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","amp":null,"preview":null,"name":"Empire","urlSlugHide":true,"furl":"empire","stationCode":"","language":"en","hostname":{"id":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5","primary":"https://stg.empireonline.com"},"composed":{"hostname":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5"}}],"primarySyndicatePosition":0,"categories":[{"id":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f8","name":"Reviews","furl":"reviews","parent":{"id":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f5","name":"Movies","furl":"movies"},"composed":{"parent":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f5"}}],"pageTemplate":"review","nutshell":"Three brothers in Mexico who work as street entertainers find themselves in a fix after their father is wrongly incarcerated for elder abuse. As a result, they must look after their 93-year-old grandmother, América. She unites them in their love for her but also creates major family tensions over her care.","verdict":"A moving story of intergenerational family love and loyalty, made with affection, light and incidental humour — as much as with melancholy. ","rating":"4","film":[{"id":"5c69a63186ae5f17944422ea","furl":"rica","title":"América","website":"","composed":{}}],"published":{"state":"published","scheduledEnd":null,"wasPublished":true},"target":"international","isLegacy":true,"legacy":{"id":"5c5d5b1cfd0c0bc8444aa839","collection":"reviews_films","publication":"empire","furl":"rica","url":"movies/rica/review/","cms":"http://bantam.empireonline.com/edit.php?c=reviews_films.content&_id=5c5d5b1cfd0c0bc8444aa839","urlHistory":[],"createdAt":1549622044857},"toplistFeature":false,"hiddenArticle":false,"excerpt":"Erick Stoll and Chase Whiteside’s slim debut documentary film is one that...","metaTitle":"","metaDescription":"Read Empire's review of documentary América.","sourceText":null,"sourceUrl":null,"_layout":[{"content":"América","type":"title"},{"content":{"id":"5c6a303a86ae5f1794463090","altText":"América","caption":"","credits":"","image":{"fileName":"america.jpg","name":"america.jpg","path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c5d5b1cfd0c0bc8444aa839","width":640,"height":480,"mimeType":"image/jpeg"}},"displayName":"Article Hero","free":true,"name":"hero","type":"heroImage"},{"content":"Erick Stoll and Chase Whiteside’s slim debut documentary film is one that painstakingly observes the difficulties of elder and end-of-life care, not to mention the family tensions caused by shouldering such immense responsibility. Diego and his two brothers, Rodriguez and Bruno, are faced with the task of caring for their fragile grandmother after their father is jailed for failing to look after her properly.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":" A documentary of unusual beauty and roundedness.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"pullQuotes"},{"content":"Somehow, in spite of this solemn and unflinching content, *América* is an affectionate, even spritely film — finding incidental humour in family squabbles and sun-dappled beauty in the heavily lined face of the old woman at the centre of its story. As the brothers’ relationships grow increasingly fraught over their myriad duties, Stoll and Whiteside film in unusually beautiful widescreen, composing their shots with the sort of care and cinematic flair rarely given to non-fiction film. It’s a project that finds its purpose in tiny moments — the gentle adjustment of pillows, lively arguments in the kitchen, or a grandmother’s mumbled goodnights to her doting grandson.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":{"url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYu8z6rQMaw","provider":"youtube"},"displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"embeds"},{"content":"Sharing the enormous responsibilities of elder care is still shown for what it is: curing constipation, getting América out of bed and walking, and other basic tasks are seen here in their teeth-gritting difficulty. But the filmmakers also reveal the brothers’ propensity to turn the toughest of tasks into a game or a joke, perhaps borrowing from their background as circus-style street performers. The outcome of this even-keeled approach is a documentary film of unusual beauty and roundedness, capturing family life in all its paradoxical maddening love and tragedy.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"}],"heroImage":[{"id":"5c6a303a86ae5f1794463090","altText":"América","caption":"","credits":"","image":{"fileName":"america.jpg","name":"america.jpg","path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c5d5b1cfd0c0bc8444aa839","width":640,"height":480,"mimeType":"image/jpeg"}}],"content":["Erick Stoll and Chase Whiteside’s slim debut documentary film is one that painstakingly observes the difficulties of elder and end-of-life care, not to mention the family tensions caused by shouldering such immense responsibility. Diego and his two brothers, Rodriguez and Bruno, are faced with the task of caring for their fragile grandmother after their father is jailed for failing to look after her properly.","Somehow, in spite of this solemn and unflinching content, *América* is an affectionate, even spritely film — finding incidental humour in family squabbles and sun-dappled beauty in the heavily lined face of the old woman at the centre of its story. As the brothers’ relationships grow increasingly fraught over their myriad duties, Stoll and Whiteside film in unusually beautiful widescreen, composing their shots with the sort of care and cinematic flair rarely given to non-fiction film. It’s a project that finds its purpose in tiny moments — the gentle adjustment of pillows, lively arguments in the kitchen, or a grandmother’s mumbled goodnights to her doting grandson.","Sharing the enormous responsibilities of elder care is still shown for what it is: curing constipation, getting América out of bed and walking, and other basic tasks are seen here in their teeth-gritting difficulty. But the filmmakers also reveal the brothers’ propensity to turn the toughest of tasks into a game or a joke, perhaps borrowing from their background as circus-style street performers. The outcome of this even-keeled approach is a documentary film of unusual beauty and roundedness, capturing family life in all its paradoxical maddening love and tragedy."],"embeds":[{"url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYu8z6rQMaw","provider":"youtube"}],"images":[],"imageGalleries":[],"pullQuotes":[" A documentary of unusual beauty and roundedness."],"publicationDate":1549621800000,"author":{"id":"5a0ecfd9d7aa8e33ecab37c3","fullname":"Willow Green"},"author_custom":"Christina Newland","apiVersion":"1.0","createdAt":1549622044857,"createdBy":"testClient","v":1,"primaryPublication":{"id":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","preview":null,"name":"Empire","urlSlugHide":true,"furl":"empire","stationCode":"","language":"en","googleAnalyticsId":"","fbiaAudienceNetworkPlacement1":"","hostname":{"id":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5","primary":"https://stg.empireonline.com"},"composed":{"hostname":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5"}},"urls":["empire/movies/reviews/rica/"],"composed":{"heroImage":["5c6a303a86ae5f1794463090"],"author":"5a0ecfd9d7aa8e33ecab37c3","images":[],"imageGalleries":[],"publications":["5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74"],"categories":["5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f8"],"primaryPublication":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","film":["5c69a63186ae5f17944422ea"]}},{"id":"5c6a303a86ae5f179446308f","title":"All Is True","subtitle":null,"furl":"true","urlOverride":"true","publications":[{"id":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","amp":null,"preview":null,"name":"Empire","urlSlugHide":true,"furl":"empire","stationCode":"","language":"en","hostname":{"id":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5","primary":"https://stg.empireonline.com"},"composed":{"hostname":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5"}}],"primarySyndicatePosition":0,"categories":[{"id":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f8","name":"Reviews","furl":"reviews","parent":{"id":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f5","name":"Movies","furl":"movies"},"composed":{"parent":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f5"}}],"pageTemplate":"review","nutshell":"After a fire destroys the Globe Theatre, William Shakespeare (Kenneth Branagh) retires to his family home in Stratford. There, he tries to rekindle his relationship with his wife, Anne (Judi Dench), and unmarried daughter Judith (Kathryn Wilder), while planting a garden to commemorate his lost son, Hamnet.","verdict":"A quiet and meditative portrait of the artist as a retiree, this lacks incident or high stakes but has an elegiac feeling of regret and reckoning that fits its subject’s twilight years.","rating":"3","film":[{"id":"5c69a63086ae5f179444227d","furl":"true","title":"All Is True","website":"","heroImage":[{"id":"5c69a63086ae5f179444227c","altText":"All Is True","caption":"All Is True","credits":"TMDB","image":{"fileName":"yrfWLVyV0ymZar0XQ7mY2S7xDv7.jpg","name":"yrfWLVyV0ymZar0XQ7mY2S7xDv7.jpg","width":1472,"height":828,"mimeType":"image/jpeg","path":"one/empire-tmdb/films/558095/images"}}],"composed":{"heroImage":["5c69a63086ae5f179444227c"]}}],"published":{"state":"published","scheduledEnd":null,"wasPublished":true},"target":"international","isLegacy":true,"legacy":{"id":"5c5b055ffd0c0bc8444a9ab7","collection":"reviews_films","publication":"empire","furl":"true","url":"movies/true/review/","cms":"http://bantam.empireonline.com/edit.php?c=reviews_films.content&_id=5c5b055ffd0c0bc8444a9ab7","urlHistory":[],"createdAt":1549469023851},"toplistFeature":false,"hiddenArticle":false,"excerpt":"Films about Shakespeare’s life have ranged from the delightfully frivolous...","metaTitle":"","metaDescription":"Kenneth Branagh plays William Shakespeare in a biographical drama. Read the Empire review.","sourceText":null,"sourceUrl":null,"_layout":[{"content":"All Is True","type":"title"},{"content":{"id":"5c6a303a86ae5f179446308d","altText":"All Is True","caption":"","credits":"","image":{"fileName":"all-is-true-1.jpg","name":"all-is-true-1.jpg","path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c5b055ffd0c0bc8444a9ab7","width":640,"height":480,"mimeType":"image/jpeg"}},"displayName":"Article Hero","free":true,"name":"hero","type":"heroImage"},{"content":"Films about Shakespeare’s life have ranged from the delightfully frivolous (*[Shakespeare In Love](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/shakespeare-love/review/)*) to the historically outrageous (*[Anonymous](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/anonymous/review/)*). But longtime Bard-botherer [Kenneth Branagh](https://www.empireonline.com/people/kenneth-branagh/) has taken a more personal, meditative approach, building a closely observed family drama on the little that we know about history’s greatest playwright.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":{"id":"5c6a303a86ae5f179446308e","image":{"path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c5b055ffd0c0bc8444a9ab7","fileName":"all-is-true-2.jpg","name":"all-is-true-2.jpg","width":"640","height":"480","mimeType":"image/jpeg"},"caption":"","altText":"All Is True"},"displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"images"},{"content":"In 1613, a misfiring cannon during a performance of his (worst) play, *Henry VIII* or ‘All Is True’, burns down the Globe Theatre, and William Shakespeare (Branagh, in disappointing prosthetics) is bereft. He heads home to Stratford, where his wife Anne ([Dench](https://www.empireonline.com/people/judi-dench/)) and unmarried daughter Judith (Wilder) live in the splendid home that his plays have funded, near his daughter Susanna (Lydia Wilson) and her puritanical doctor husband, John Hall (Hadley Fraser).","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":"A contemplative drama, with more talking than conflict.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"pullQuotes"},{"content":"William is a distant figure to these people, an absentee father who has spent 20 years managing his theatre at the expense of his family. His attempts to resume his place as head of the household feel ill-fitting; like the coat of arms he bought to secure his status as a gentleman, they are awkward trappings he feels he should have rather than something natural.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":"Shakespeare’s true obsession, however, is the missing family member, Hamnet, who died at the age of only 11. His father is belatedly grieving, planning a sort of memorial garden and re-opening old wounds as he discusses Hamnet with his wife and daughters. Some of this exploration of grief seems a little forced: would Hamnet’s death be hitting so hard, 17 years after the fact? Has he truly never faced the loss before? Other subplots involving a scandalous allegation against Susanna and the question of Judith’s unmarried status give the film incident but seem curiously detached from the man himself, distractions rather than essential texture.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":"The biggest challenge, then, comes from an outsider, [Ian McKellen](https://www.empireonline.com/people/ian-mckellen/)’s Henry Wriothesley, Earl Of Southampton, the dedicatee of two of Shakespeare’s epic poems. In one standout scene Henry challenges Will on the smallness of his life, his lack of personal experience or drama. There’s a sense that Shakespeare is slightly baffled by the question, as if he experienced so much within his head that there was no time for more. Still, this dissection of his failings — by a man of greater social standing who, the film implies, was at least an unrequited love of Shakespeare’s — is quietly devastating, and there are further revelations to come from his wife and daughters that will also challenge his comforting assumptions.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":{"url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fllmwhPso0M","provider":"youtube"},"displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"embeds"},{"content":"But, as written by Ben Elton, who tackled Stratford’s finest on TV with *Upstart Crowe*, this is a contemplative drama, with more talking than conflict and regret rather than reproach; in that sense it recalls [Jim Jarmusch](https://www.empireonline.com/people/jim-jarmusch/)’s *[Paterson](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/paterson/review/)* and its emphasis on non-incident. This portrait of Shakespeare ultimately agrees with Wriothesley that what happened inside his head was far more interesting than the life he lived outside it, and while it may seem slow and overly silent, perhaps it’s worth making the point that genius sometimes writes what it knows without having to live that truth first.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"}],"heroImage":[{"id":"5c6a303a86ae5f179446308d","altText":"All Is True","caption":"","credits":"","image":{"fileName":"all-is-true-1.jpg","name":"all-is-true-1.jpg","path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c5b055ffd0c0bc8444a9ab7","width":640,"height":480,"mimeType":"image/jpeg"}}],"content":["Films about Shakespeare’s life have ranged from the delightfully frivolous (*[Shakespeare In Love](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/shakespeare-love/review/)*) to the historically outrageous (*[Anonymous](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/anonymous/review/)*). But longtime Bard-botherer [Kenneth Branagh](https://www.empireonline.com/people/kenneth-branagh/) has taken a more personal, meditative approach, building a closely observed family drama on the little that we know about history’s greatest playwright.","In 1613, a misfiring cannon during a performance of his (worst) play, *Henry VIII* or ‘All Is True’, burns down the Globe Theatre, and William Shakespeare (Branagh, in disappointing prosthetics) is bereft. He heads home to Stratford, where his wife Anne ([Dench](https://www.empireonline.com/people/judi-dench/)) and unmarried daughter Judith (Wilder) live in the splendid home that his plays have funded, near his daughter Susanna (Lydia Wilson) and her puritanical doctor husband, John Hall (Hadley Fraser).","William is a distant figure to these people, an absentee father who has spent 20 years managing his theatre at the expense of his family. His attempts to resume his place as head of the household feel ill-fitting; like the coat of arms he bought to secure his status as a gentleman, they are awkward trappings he feels he should have rather than something natural.","Shakespeare’s true obsession, however, is the missing family member, Hamnet, who died at the age of only 11. His father is belatedly grieving, planning a sort of memorial garden and re-opening old wounds as he discusses Hamnet with his wife and daughters. Some of this exploration of grief seems a little forced: would Hamnet’s death be hitting so hard, 17 years after the fact? Has he truly never faced the loss before? Other subplots involving a scandalous allegation against Susanna and the question of Judith’s unmarried status give the film incident but seem curiously detached from the man himself, distractions rather than essential texture.","The biggest challenge, then, comes from an outsider, [Ian McKellen](https://www.empireonline.com/people/ian-mckellen/)’s Henry Wriothesley, Earl Of Southampton, the dedicatee of two of Shakespeare’s epic poems. In one standout scene Henry challenges Will on the smallness of his life, his lack of personal experience or drama. There’s a sense that Shakespeare is slightly baffled by the question, as if he experienced so much within his head that there was no time for more. Still, this dissection of his failings — by a man of greater social standing who, the film implies, was at least an unrequited love of Shakespeare’s — is quietly devastating, and there are further revelations to come from his wife and daughters that will also challenge his comforting assumptions.","But, as written by Ben Elton, who tackled Stratford’s finest on TV with *Upstart Crowe*, this is a contemplative drama, with more talking than conflict and regret rather than reproach; in that sense it recalls [Jim Jarmusch](https://www.empireonline.com/people/jim-jarmusch/)’s *[Paterson](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/paterson/review/)* and its emphasis on non-incident. This portrait of Shakespeare ultimately agrees with Wriothesley that what happened inside his head was far more interesting than the life he lived outside it, and while it may seem slow and overly silent, perhaps it’s worth making the point that genius sometimes writes what it knows without having to live that truth first."],"embeds":[{"url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fllmwhPso0M","provider":"youtube"}],"images":[{"id":"5c6a303a86ae5f179446308e","image":{"path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c5b055ffd0c0bc8444a9ab7","fileName":"all-is-true-2.jpg","name":"all-is-true-2.jpg","width":"640","height":"480","mimeType":"image/jpeg"},"caption":"","altText":"All Is True"}],"imageGalleries":[],"pullQuotes":["A contemplative drama, with more talking than conflict."],"publicationDate":1549468800000,"author":{"id":"5a0ecfd9d7aa8e33ecab37c3","fullname":"Willow Green"},"author_custom":"Helen O'Hara","apiVersion":"1.0","createdAt":1549469023851,"createdBy":"testClient","v":1,"primaryPublication":{"id":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","preview":null,"name":"Empire","urlSlugHide":true,"furl":"empire","stationCode":"","language":"en","googleAnalyticsId":"","fbiaAudienceNetworkPlacement1":"","hostname":{"id":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5","primary":"https://stg.empireonline.com"},"composed":{"hostname":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5"}},"urls":["empire/movies/reviews/true/"],"composed":{"heroImage":["5c6a303a86ae5f179446308d"],"author":"5a0ecfd9d7aa8e33ecab37c3","images":["5c6a303a86ae5f179446308e"],"imageGalleries":[],"publications":["5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74"],"categories":["5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f8"],"primaryPublication":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","film":["5c69a63086ae5f179444227d"]}},{"id":"5c6a303a86ae5f179446308c","title":"If Beale Street Could Talk","subtitle":null,"furl":"beale-street-talk","urlOverride":"beale-street-talk","publications":[{"id":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","amp":null,"preview":null,"name":"Empire","urlSlugHide":true,"furl":"empire","stationCode":"","language":"en","hostname":{"id":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5","primary":"https://stg.empireonline.com"},"composed":{"hostname":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5"}}],"primarySyndicatePosition":0,"categories":[{"id":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f8","name":"Reviews","furl":"reviews","parent":{"id":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f5","name":"Movies","furl":"movies"},"composed":{"parent":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f5"}}],"pageTemplate":"review","nutshell":"Alonzo ‘Fonny’ Hunt (Stephan James) has been jailed for a crime he did not commit, and his girlfriend Clementine ‘Tish’ Rivers (KiKi Layne) works to get him freed before their baby is born. Her parents and his father rally around to support them and clear his name.","verdict":"A sort of Romeo And Juliet with systemic racism replacing the family feud, this is romantic and infuriating, hopeful and despairing. A sensory, desperately emotional experience for lovers and fighters alike.","rating":"5","film":[{"id":"5c69a62e86ae5f17944421d7","furl":"beale-street-talk","title":"If Beale Street Could Talk","website":"","heroImage":[{"id":"5c69a62e86ae5f17944421d6","altText":"If Beale Street Could Talk","caption":"If Beale Street Could Talk","credits":"TMDB","image":{"fileName":"9QKt21sUUrcNmlCkLKDFUaTodCh.jpg","name":"9QKt21sUUrcNmlCkLKDFUaTodCh.jpg","width":3600,"height":2025,"mimeType":"image/jpeg","path":"one/empire-tmdb/films/465914/images"}}],"composed":{"heroImage":["5c69a62e86ae5f17944421d6"]}}],"published":{"state":"published","scheduledEnd":null,"wasPublished":true},"target":"international","isLegacy":true,"legacy":{"id":"5c5826c8fd0c0bc8444a8908","collection":"reviews_films","publication":"empire","furl":"beale-street-talk","url":"movies/beale-street-talk/review/","cms":"http://bantam.empireonline.com/edit.php?c=reviews_films.content&_id=5c5826c8fd0c0bc8444a8908","urlHistory":[],"createdAt":1549280968405},"toplistFeature":false,"hiddenArticle":false,"excerpt":"Two years ago, Barry Jenkins won Best Picture at the Oscars for Moonlight, a...","metaTitle":"","metaDescription":"Moonlight director Barry Jenkins returns with a romantic drama. Read the Empire review.","sourceText":null,"sourceUrl":null,"_layout":[{"content":"If Beale Street Could Talk","type":"title"},{"content":{"id":"5c6a303986ae5f179446308a","altText":"If Beale Street Could Talk","caption":"","credits":"","image":{"fileName":"beale-street-1.jpg","name":"beale-street-1.jpg","path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c5826c8fd0c0bc8444a8908","width":640,"height":480,"mimeType":"image/jpeg"}},"displayName":"Article Hero","free":true,"name":"hero","type":"heroImage"},{"content":"Two years ago, [Barry Jenkins](https://www.empireonline.com/people/barry-jenkins/) won Best Picture at the Oscars for *[Moonlight](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/moonlight/review/)*, a devastatingly emotional look at identity, deprivation and the search for connection that binds us all. For his follow-up, Jenkins returned to a project he’s been trying to make for years, an adaptation of James Baldwin’s passionate depiction of love and loss in 1970’s Harlem. The result is just as luminous, if a little more mainstream.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":"Jenkins’ approach is elegantly simple. He shows us two of the most beautiful young humans on the planet, takes us through their love story until we’re as enamoured with them as they are with one another, and then puts them through hell. The result is the most sweepingly romantic polemic you’ll ever see, a love story that will make you want to take up arms against a cruel world.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":"Fonny (*[Race](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/race/review/)*’s [Stephan James](https://www.empireonline.com/people/stephan-james/)) and Tish (near newcomer KiKi Layne) have known one another all their lives before they fall in love in young adulthood. Fonny, a little older, plans to be a sculptor, while Tish works at a department store perfume counter. She’s just become pregnant when he is arrested and falsely charged with rape. Left alone to tell her news to both families, Tish and her clan work together to clear Fonny’s name and get him back before their baby is born.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":"It's a beautiful film, but weighty too.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"pullQuotes"},{"content":"Regular flashbacks to Fonny and Tish’s lives together reveal their blooming romantic feelings, but there is also forward motion here in his legal quest for justice, with family help. Tish’s father Joseph (Colman Domingo) and Fonny’s dad Frank (Michael Beach) raise money for an idealistic lawyer (Finn Wittrock) who’s doing what he can. Meanwhile, Tish’s mum Sharon ([Regina King](https://www.empireonline.com/people/regina-king/)) goes to great lengths to seek out the evidence that could free him.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":"It’s a beautiful film, but weighty too. It humanises black men in a way that the media, often, does not. We see Fonny as a loving, considerate boyfriend, and Joseph and Frank as devoted fathers who would do anything for their families. None of them are idealised or faultless, but they’re all the more sympathetic for that. It also shows the strength required of black women to survive intersectional racism, as Tish visibly begins to grow steel around her spine, and Sharon goes to war in the most dignified, careful, womanly way possible. Most of all, this shows the effects of not just one racist apple but a whole rotten system of prejudice, injustice and money.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":{"id":"5c6a303986ae5f179446308b","image":{"path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c5826c8fd0c0bc8444a8908","fileName":"beale-street-2.jpg","name":"beale-street-2.jpg","width":"640","height":"480","mimeType":"image/jpeg"},"caption":"","altText":"If Beale Street Could Talk"},"displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"images"},{"content":"Jenkins wisely stuck with the behind-camera team that worked so well for him before. *Moonlight* cinematographer James Laxton somehow manages to inject a sunlit, amber glow even into Tish and Fonny’s basement apartment, giving the film a golden sheen of memory and summertime that reflects its protagonists’ hopes. And composer Nicholas Britell, whose stripped-back jazz score’s theme haunts the film, lightly punctuates the emotion without overwhelming it. The dialogue, adapted by Jenkins himself, is sometimes a little dense and novelistic, unwilling to strip out too much of Baldwin’s prose, but it’s also frequently lyrical. Equally, some lighter scenes — particularly a short, likeable cameo by [Dave Franco](https://www.empireonline.com/people/dave-franco/) — will be divisive, but these moments of levity serve to both momentarily relieve and generally emphasise the darkness.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":{"url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zGb71CzIt8","provider":"youtube"},"displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"embeds"},{"content":"Set in the 1970s but feeling all too contemporary, this is powerful but not self-righteous; it never descends into that dry, medicinal ‘important film’ slog. The overwhelming feeling is one of love, both the romantic kind that can endure great hardship and the familial kind that supports and protects its own. The great tragedy of the film is that love is not enough to protect us entirely against the world’s cruelty, and that such ordeals could even be inflicted in the first place.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"}],"heroImage":[{"id":"5c6a303986ae5f179446308a","altText":"If Beale Street Could Talk","caption":"","credits":"","image":{"fileName":"beale-street-1.jpg","name":"beale-street-1.jpg","path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c5826c8fd0c0bc8444a8908","width":640,"height":480,"mimeType":"image/jpeg"}}],"content":["Two years ago, [Barry Jenkins](https://www.empireonline.com/people/barry-jenkins/) won Best Picture at the Oscars for *[Moonlight](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/moonlight/review/)*, a devastatingly emotional look at identity, deprivation and the search for connection that binds us all. For his follow-up, Jenkins returned to a project he’s been trying to make for years, an adaptation of James Baldwin’s passionate depiction of love and loss in 1970’s Harlem. The result is just as luminous, if a little more mainstream.","Jenkins’ approach is elegantly simple. He shows us two of the most beautiful young humans on the planet, takes us through their love story until we’re as enamoured with them as they are with one another, and then puts them through hell. The result is the most sweepingly romantic polemic you’ll ever see, a love story that will make you want to take up arms against a cruel world.","Fonny (*[Race](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/race/review/)*’s [Stephan James](https://www.empireonline.com/people/stephan-james/)) and Tish (near newcomer KiKi Layne) have known one another all their lives before they fall in love in young adulthood. Fonny, a little older, plans to be a sculptor, while Tish works at a department store perfume counter. She’s just become pregnant when he is arrested and falsely charged with rape. Left alone to tell her news to both families, Tish and her clan work together to clear Fonny’s name and get him back before their baby is born.","Regular flashbacks to Fonny and Tish’s lives together reveal their blooming romantic feelings, but there is also forward motion here in his legal quest for justice, with family help. Tish’s father Joseph (Colman Domingo) and Fonny’s dad Frank (Michael Beach) raise money for an idealistic lawyer (Finn Wittrock) who’s doing what he can. Meanwhile, Tish’s mum Sharon ([Regina King](https://www.empireonline.com/people/regina-king/)) goes to great lengths to seek out the evidence that could free him.","It’s a beautiful film, but weighty too. It humanises black men in a way that the media, often, does not. We see Fonny as a loving, considerate boyfriend, and Joseph and Frank as devoted fathers who would do anything for their families. None of them are idealised or faultless, but they’re all the more sympathetic for that. It also shows the strength required of black women to survive intersectional racism, as Tish visibly begins to grow steel around her spine, and Sharon goes to war in the most dignified, careful, womanly way possible. Most of all, this shows the effects of not just one racist apple but a whole rotten system of prejudice, injustice and money.","Jenkins wisely stuck with the behind-camera team that worked so well for him before. *Moonlight* cinematographer James Laxton somehow manages to inject a sunlit, amber glow even into Tish and Fonny’s basement apartment, giving the film a golden sheen of memory and summertime that reflects its protagonists’ hopes. And composer Nicholas Britell, whose stripped-back jazz score’s theme haunts the film, lightly punctuates the emotion without overwhelming it. The dialogue, adapted by Jenkins himself, is sometimes a little dense and novelistic, unwilling to strip out too much of Baldwin’s prose, but it’s also frequently lyrical. Equally, some lighter scenes — particularly a short, likeable cameo by [Dave Franco](https://www.empireonline.com/people/dave-franco/) — will be divisive, but these moments of levity serve to both momentarily relieve and generally emphasise the darkness.","Set in the 1970s but feeling all too contemporary, this is powerful but not self-righteous; it never descends into that dry, medicinal ‘important film’ slog. The overwhelming feeling is one of love, both the romantic kind that can endure great hardship and the familial kind that supports and protects its own. The great tragedy of the film is that love is not enough to protect us entirely against the world’s cruelty, and that such ordeals could even be inflicted in the first place."],"embeds":[{"url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zGb71CzIt8","provider":"youtube"}],"images":[{"id":"5c6a303986ae5f179446308b","image":{"path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c5826c8fd0c0bc8444a8908","fileName":"beale-street-2.jpg","name":"beale-street-2.jpg","width":"640","height":"480","mimeType":"image/jpeg"},"caption":"","altText":"If Beale Street Could Talk"}],"imageGalleries":[],"pullQuotes":["It's a beautiful film, but weighty too."],"publicationDate":1549280760000,"author":{"id":"5a0ecfd9d7aa8e33ecab37c3","fullname":"Willow Green"},"author_custom":"Helen O'Hara","apiVersion":"1.0","createdAt":1549280968405,"createdBy":"testClient","v":1,"primaryPublication":{"id":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","preview":null,"name":"Empire","urlSlugHide":true,"furl":"empire","stationCode":"","language":"en","googleAnalyticsId":"","fbiaAudienceNetworkPlacement1":"","hostname":{"id":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5","primary":"https://stg.empireonline.com"},"composed":{"hostname":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5"}},"urls":["empire/movies/reviews/beale-street-talk/"],"composed":{"heroImage":["5c6a303986ae5f179446308a"],"author":"5a0ecfd9d7aa8e33ecab37c3","images":["5c6a303986ae5f179446308b"],"imageGalleries":[],"publications":["5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74"],"categories":["5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f8"],"primaryPublication":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","film":["5c69a62e86ae5f17944421d7"]}},{"id":"5c6a303986ae5f1794463089","title":"Boy Erased","subtitle":null,"furl":"boy-erased","urlOverride":"boy-erased","publications":[{"id":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","amp":null,"preview":null,"name":"Empire","urlSlugHide":true,"furl":"empire","stationCode":"","language":"en","hostname":{"id":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5","primary":"https://stg.empireonline.com"},"composed":{"hostname":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5"}}],"primarySyndicatePosition":0,"categories":[{"id":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f8","name":"Reviews","furl":"reviews","parent":{"id":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f5","name":"Movies","furl":"movies"},"composed":{"parent":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f5"}}],"pageTemplate":"review","nutshell":"When American college student Jared (Lucas Hedges) has no choice but to come out as gay to his religious parents (Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman), they send him to Love In Action — a ‘conversion therapy’ institution led by Victor Sykes (Joel Edgerton), where he enters a course designed to change his sexuality.","verdict":"Joel Edgerton once again proves himself a gifted filmmaker — but for all the craft, compelling performances and good intentions at work here, the drama itself falls somewhat short.","rating":"3","film":[{"id":"5c69a62e86ae5f17944421b6","furl":"boy-erased","title":"Boy Erased","website":"","heroImage":[{"id":"5c69a62e86ae5f17944421b5","altText":"Boy Erased","caption":"Boy Erased","credits":"TMDB","image":{"fileName":"2ePViXIOnifrugvnjlFxzmvjwKL.jpg","name":"2ePViXIOnifrugvnjlFxzmvjwKL.jpg","width":1920,"height":1080,"mimeType":"image/jpeg","path":"one/empire-tmdb/films/472451/images"}}],"composed":{"heroImage":["5c69a62e86ae5f17944421b5"]}}],"published":{"state":"published","scheduledEnd":null,"wasPublished":true},"target":"international","isLegacy":true,"legacy":{"id":"5c582265fd0c0bc8444a88be","collection":"reviews_films","publication":"empire","furl":"boy-erased","url":"movies/boy-erased/review/","cms":"http://bantam.empireonline.com/edit.php?c=reviews_films.content&_id=5c582265fd0c0bc8444a88be","urlHistory":[],"createdAt":1549279845612},"toplistFeature":false,"hiddenArticle":false,"excerpt":"With his filmmaking debut The Gift, Joel Edgerton displayed a sharp eye for...","metaTitle":"","metaDescription":"Lucas Hedges and Nicole Kidman star in Joel Edgerton's conversion therapy drama. Read the Empire review.","sourceText":null,"sourceUrl":null,"_layout":[{"content":"Boy Erased","type":"title"},{"content":{"id":"5c6a303886ae5f1794463088","altText":"Boy Erased","caption":"","credits":"","image":{"fileName":"boy-erased-1.jpg","name":"boy-erased-1.jpg","path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c582265fd0c0bc8444a88be","width":640,"height":480,"mimeType":"image/jpeg"}},"displayName":"Article Hero","free":true,"name":"hero","type":"heroImage"},{"content":"With his filmmaking debut *[The Gift](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/gift/review/)*, [Joel Edgerton](https://www.empireonline.com/people/joel-edgerton/) displayed a sharp eye for creeping horror rooted in human cruelty and social anxiety. His return as a writer-director heads into more direct drama territory, but it’s an instinct Edgerton very much brings with him. The opening stretch of *[Boy Erased](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/boy-erased/)* is framed with a thrumming dread — teenager Jared Eamons ([Lucas Hedges](https://www.empireonline.com/people/lucas-hedges/)), under the instruction of his parents, signs himself in at ‘gay conversion therapy’ camp Love In Action, surrendering his possessions and identity to a place that the audience knows is only going to do him harm.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":"In his adaptation of Garrard Conley’s memoir, Edgerton is clear and direct in depicting not only the insidious and hypocritical nature of so-called ‘ex-gay’ practices, but their banality too. The 12-day course that Jared enrols in, led by figurehead Victor Sykes — [Edgerton](https://www.empireonline.com/people/joel-edgerton/), looking somewhat an evil Ned Flanders — includes such dubious activities as posture lessons and hitting baseballs, alongside more obviously harmful ‘therapy’ sessions tantamount to emotional abuse. Can Jared, already plagued with doubt and guilt, really change — and if so, should he? Or should he, as one fellow inmate (a magnetic Troye Sivan) tells him, “play the part” and get out before more lasting damage is done?","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":"Empathetic and well-intentioned, but doesn't quite connect as a human drama.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"pullQuotes"},{"content":"*Boy Erased* navigates the intersection between traditional religious beliefs and internalised homophobia incisively, mapping its varying destructive consequences to generally powerful effect. But while the film is empathetic and well-intentioned in exposing a practice still alarmingly prevalent in America today — as summarised in the closing credits — it doesn’t quite connect as a human drama. Lucas Hedges puts in a strong performance — particularly when his rage bubbles over in a roadside meltdown — but Jared feels more cipher than character, a situation to be horrified by rather than an individual to root for. The film also portrays him principally as a victim, which may prove too one-note for some — his trauma is depicted graphically, particularly in one unflinchingly violent sequence, while his positive sexual experiences remain comparatively unexplored.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":"But whenever the film turns to the relationship between Jared and his mother Nancy ([Nicole Kidman](https://www.empireonline.com/people/nicole-kidman/)), it becomes more nuanced and emotive — Kidman is excellent as a parent who genuinely wants to help her son but whose ignorance sees her go about it in the most damaging way. The film’s beating heart is in this evolving relationship, where there’s hope that love can ultimately transcend prejudice.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":{"url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOJR0YKQLhA","provider":"youtube"},"displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"embeds"},{"content":"With arresting visual compositions and a well-deployed cast, *Boy Erased* confirms that *The Gift* was no fluke from Edgerton. It’s an important story to be told, but it’s the horror of ‘conversion therapy’ as a whole rather than the specifics of Jared’s plight that remain come the closing credits.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"}],"heroImage":[{"id":"5c6a303886ae5f1794463088","altText":"Boy Erased","caption":"","credits":"","image":{"fileName":"boy-erased-1.jpg","name":"boy-erased-1.jpg","path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c582265fd0c0bc8444a88be","width":640,"height":480,"mimeType":"image/jpeg"}}],"content":["With his filmmaking debut *[The Gift](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/gift/review/)*, [Joel Edgerton](https://www.empireonline.com/people/joel-edgerton/) displayed a sharp eye for creeping horror rooted in human cruelty and social anxiety. His return as a writer-director heads into more direct drama territory, but it’s an instinct Edgerton very much brings with him. The opening stretch of *[Boy Erased](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/boy-erased/)* is framed with a thrumming dread — teenager Jared Eamons ([Lucas Hedges](https://www.empireonline.com/people/lucas-hedges/)), under the instruction of his parents, signs himself in at ‘gay conversion therapy’ camp Love In Action, surrendering his possessions and identity to a place that the audience knows is only going to do him harm.","In his adaptation of Garrard Conley’s memoir, Edgerton is clear and direct in depicting not only the insidious and hypocritical nature of so-called ‘ex-gay’ practices, but their banality too. The 12-day course that Jared enrols in, led by figurehead Victor Sykes — [Edgerton](https://www.empireonline.com/people/joel-edgerton/), looking somewhat an evil Ned Flanders — includes such dubious activities as posture lessons and hitting baseballs, alongside more obviously harmful ‘therapy’ sessions tantamount to emotional abuse. Can Jared, already plagued with doubt and guilt, really change — and if so, should he? Or should he, as one fellow inmate (a magnetic Troye Sivan) tells him, “play the part” and get out before more lasting damage is done?","*Boy Erased* navigates the intersection between traditional religious beliefs and internalised homophobia incisively, mapping its varying destructive consequences to generally powerful effect. But while the film is empathetic and well-intentioned in exposing a practice still alarmingly prevalent in America today — as summarised in the closing credits — it doesn’t quite connect as a human drama. Lucas Hedges puts in a strong performance — particularly when his rage bubbles over in a roadside meltdown — but Jared feels more cipher than character, a situation to be horrified by rather than an individual to root for. The film also portrays him principally as a victim, which may prove too one-note for some — his trauma is depicted graphically, particularly in one unflinchingly violent sequence, while his positive sexual experiences remain comparatively unexplored.","But whenever the film turns to the relationship between Jared and his mother Nancy ([Nicole Kidman](https://www.empireonline.com/people/nicole-kidman/)), it becomes more nuanced and emotive — Kidman is excellent as a parent who genuinely wants to help her son but whose ignorance sees her go about it in the most damaging way. The film’s beating heart is in this evolving relationship, where there’s hope that love can ultimately transcend prejudice.","With arresting visual compositions and a well-deployed cast, *Boy Erased* confirms that *The Gift* was no fluke from Edgerton. It’s an important story to be told, but it’s the horror of ‘conversion therapy’ as a whole rather than the specifics of Jared’s plight that remain come the closing credits."],"embeds":[{"url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOJR0YKQLhA","provider":"youtube"}],"images":[],"imageGalleries":[],"pullQuotes":["Empathetic and well-intentioned, but doesn't quite connect as a human drama."],"publicationDate":1549279620000,"author":{"id":"5a0ecfd9d7aa8e33ecab37c3","fullname":"Willow Green"},"author_custom":"Ben Travis","apiVersion":"1.0","createdAt":1549279845612,"createdBy":"testClient","v":1,"primaryPublication":{"id":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","preview":null,"name":"Empire","urlSlugHide":true,"furl":"empire","stationCode":"","language":"en","googleAnalyticsId":"","fbiaAudienceNetworkPlacement1":"","hostname":{"id":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5","primary":"https://stg.empireonline.com"},"composed":{"hostname":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5"}},"urls":["empire/movies/reviews/boy-erased/"],"composed":{"heroImage":["5c6a303886ae5f1794463088"],"author":"5a0ecfd9d7aa8e33ecab37c3","images":[],"imageGalleries":[],"publications":["5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74"],"categories":["5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f8"],"primaryPublication":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","film":["5c69a62e86ae5f17944421b6"]}},{"id":"5c6a303886ae5f1794463087","title":"The Kid Who Would Be King","subtitle":null,"furl":"kid-king","urlOverride":"kid-king","publications":[{"id":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","amp":null,"preview":null,"name":"Empire","urlSlugHide":true,"furl":"empire","stationCode":"","language":"en","hostname":{"id":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5","primary":"https://stg.empireonline.com"},"composed":{"hostname":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5"}}],"primarySyndicatePosition":0,"categories":[{"id":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f8","name":"Reviews","furl":"reviews","parent":{"id":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f5","name":"Movies","furl":"movies"},"composed":{"parent":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f5"}}],"pageTemplate":"review","nutshell":"Alex (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) thinks he’s got his hands full with homework. Then he gets said hands on Excalibur. Cue a quest to stop a witch (Rebecca Ferguson) from getting medieval on the entire United Kingdom.","verdict":"More proof that Cornish is a wizard at re-energising tired tropes.The characters are a delight, the action sequences thrum with invention, and when it’s funny, it’s very funny indeed. ","rating":"4","film":[{"id":"5c69a62f86ae5f1794442242","furl":"kid-king","title":"The Kid Who Would Be King","website":"","heroImage":[{"id":"5c69a62f86ae5f1794442241","altText":"The Kid Who Would Be King","caption":"The Kid Who Would Be King","credits":"TMDB","image":{"fileName":"5NZdSaEPAByrbtFW7Rp2pUV7CU9.jpg","name":"5NZdSaEPAByrbtFW7Rp2pUV7CU9.jpg","width":3840,"height":2160,"mimeType":"image/jpeg","path":"one/empire-tmdb/films/454294/images"}}],"composed":{"heroImage":["5c69a62f86ae5f1794442241"]}}],"published":{"state":"published","scheduledEnd":null,"wasPublished":true},"target":"international","isLegacy":true,"legacy":{"id":"5c581b95fd0c0bc8444a884d","collection":"reviews_films","publication":"empire","furl":"kid-king","url":"movies/kid-king/review/","cms":"http://bantam.empireonline.com/edit.php?c=reviews_films.content&_id=5c581b95fd0c0bc8444a884d","urlHistory":[],"createdAt":1549278101714},"toplistFeature":false,"hiddenArticle":false,"excerpt":"“Strange women lyin’ in ponds distributin’ swords,” pronounces a character in...","metaTitle":"","metaDescription":"Joe Cornish returns with an Arthurian family adventure. Read the Empire review.","sourceText":null,"sourceUrl":null,"_layout":[{"content":"The Kid Who Would Be King","type":"title"},{"content":{"id":"5c6a303886ae5f1794463085","altText":"The Kid Who Would Be King","caption":"","credits":"","image":{"fileName":"kid-who-would-1.jpg","name":"kid-who-would-1.jpg","path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c581b95fd0c0bc8444a884d","width":640,"height":480,"mimeType":"image/jpeg"}},"displayName":"Article Hero","free":true,"name":"hero","type":"heroImage"},{"content":"“Strange women lyin’ in ponds distributin’ swords,” pronounces a character in *[Monty Python And The Holy Grail](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/monty-python-holy-grail/review/)*, “is no basis for a system of government.” Evidence also suggests it’s not much of a basis for successful filmmaking. There have been a few great movies inspired by Arthurean lore, including *[Excalibur](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/excalibur/review/)* and *Holy Grail* itself, but more often than not it’s led to ponderous misfires such as the [recent Guy Ritchie effort](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/king-arthur-legend-sword/review/) and the one where Richard Gere dodged giant, swinging axes. Now, however, along comes [Joe Cornish](https://www.empireonline.com/people/joe-cornish/), rebooting the legend and making strange women lyin’ in ponds distributin’ swords more fun than they’ve ever been before.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":{"id":"5c6a303886ae5f1794463086","image":{"path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c581b95fd0c0bc8444a884d","fileName":"kid-who-would-2.jpg","name":"kid-who-would-2.jpg","width":"640","height":"480","mimeType":"image/jpeg"},"caption":"","altText":"The Kid Who Would Be King"},"displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"images"},{"content":"Eight years after he science-fictioned up a South London estate in *[Attack The Block](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/attack-block/review/)*, here Cornish chucks a different genre — fantasy — at an inner-city school. The likeable but much-teased Alex ([Ashbourne Serkis](https://www.empireonline.com/people/louis-ashbourne-serkis/)) discovers an ancient blade on a local construction site, realises it’s Excalibur, and ends up embarking on a quest with his best friend and the bullies who have been making his life hell, the quartet slowly transforming into four pint-sized knights. Read that description, and it’s hard not to imagine a very silly comedy. But Cornish achieves a balance between laughs and earnestness, aided by a terrific performance from Serkis. Kid has the feel of an old-fashioned, classic kids’ adventure film, à la *[E.T.](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/et-extra-terrestrial/review/)* or *Explorers*, with the baddies played straight and some emotional business involving Alex’s parents.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":"The story is deftly told, with wit and momentum.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"pullQuotes"},{"content":"Those baddies are where the film’s imagination falters a little: [Rebecca Ferguson](https://www.empireonline.com/people/rebecca-ferguson/) brings intensity to the dread witch Morgana, but is stuck to a muddy wall for most of her screentime, while her army of hell-skeletons are undeniably cool-looking but get a little samey. Cornish compensates, though, with some striking fantasy licks, such as a training sequence involving mobile trees, and a riff on the Lady Of The Lake trope that’s really rather genius. He even manages to breathe new life into Merlin, that most shopworn of wizards. Here the sagacious sorcerer flits to and fro between two bodies, one old and one young, played by [Patrick Stewart](https://www.empireonline.com/people/patrick-stewart/) and Angus Imrie respectively.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":{"url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1OeUck8LQ8","provider":"youtube"},"displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"embeds"},{"content":"The story is deftly told, with wit, momentum and a third-act battle sequence which cleverly recasts the youngsters’ school as a castle under siege. There are even sly allusions to Britain’s current travails, with Morgana’s assault seemingly inspired by Brexit. Let’s hope Theresa May doesn’t get any ideas.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"}],"heroImage":[{"id":"5c6a303886ae5f1794463085","altText":"The Kid Who Would Be King","caption":"","credits":"","image":{"fileName":"kid-who-would-1.jpg","name":"kid-who-would-1.jpg","path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c581b95fd0c0bc8444a884d","width":640,"height":480,"mimeType":"image/jpeg"}}],"content":["“Strange women lyin’ in ponds distributin’ swords,” pronounces a character in *[Monty Python And The Holy Grail](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/monty-python-holy-grail/review/)*, “is no basis for a system of government.” Evidence also suggests it’s not much of a basis for successful filmmaking. There have been a few great movies inspired by Arthurean lore, including *[Excalibur](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/excalibur/review/)* and *Holy Grail* itself, but more often than not it’s led to ponderous misfires such as the [recent Guy Ritchie effort](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/king-arthur-legend-sword/review/) and the one where Richard Gere dodged giant, swinging axes. Now, however, along comes [Joe Cornish](https://www.empireonline.com/people/joe-cornish/), rebooting the legend and making strange women lyin’ in ponds distributin’ swords more fun than they’ve ever been before.","Eight years after he science-fictioned up a South London estate in *[Attack The Block](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/attack-block/review/)*, here Cornish chucks a different genre — fantasy — at an inner-city school. The likeable but much-teased Alex ([Ashbourne Serkis](https://www.empireonline.com/people/louis-ashbourne-serkis/)) discovers an ancient blade on a local construction site, realises it’s Excalibur, and ends up embarking on a quest with his best friend and the bullies who have been making his life hell, the quartet slowly transforming into four pint-sized knights. Read that description, and it’s hard not to imagine a very silly comedy. But Cornish achieves a balance between laughs and earnestness, aided by a terrific performance from Serkis. Kid has the feel of an old-fashioned, classic kids’ adventure film, à la *[E.T.](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/et-extra-terrestrial/review/)* or *Explorers*, with the baddies played straight and some emotional business involving Alex’s parents.","Those baddies are where the film’s imagination falters a little: [Rebecca Ferguson](https://www.empireonline.com/people/rebecca-ferguson/) brings intensity to the dread witch Morgana, but is stuck to a muddy wall for most of her screentime, while her army of hell-skeletons are undeniably cool-looking but get a little samey. Cornish compensates, though, with some striking fantasy licks, such as a training sequence involving mobile trees, and a riff on the Lady Of The Lake trope that’s really rather genius. He even manages to breathe new life into Merlin, that most shopworn of wizards. Here the sagacious sorcerer flits to and fro between two bodies, one old and one young, played by [Patrick Stewart](https://www.empireonline.com/people/patrick-stewart/) and Angus Imrie respectively.","The story is deftly told, with wit, momentum and a third-act battle sequence which cleverly recasts the youngsters’ school as a castle under siege. There are even sly allusions to Britain’s current travails, with Morgana’s assault seemingly inspired by Brexit. Let’s hope Theresa May doesn’t get any ideas."],"embeds":[{"url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1OeUck8LQ8","provider":"youtube"}],"images":[{"id":"5c6a303886ae5f1794463086","image":{"path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c581b95fd0c0bc8444a884d","fileName":"kid-who-would-2.jpg","name":"kid-who-would-2.jpg","width":"640","height":"480","mimeType":"image/jpeg"},"caption":"","altText":"The Kid Who Would Be King"}],"imageGalleries":[],"pullQuotes":["The story is deftly told, with wit and momentum."],"publicationDate":1549277880000,"author":{"id":"5c6a09e786ae5f1794457425","fullname":"Nick De Semlyen","furl":"nick-de-semlyen"},"apiVersion":"1.0","createdAt":1549278101714,"createdBy":"testClient","v":1,"primaryPublication":{"id":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","preview":null,"name":"Empire","urlSlugHide":true,"furl":"empire","stationCode":"","language":"en","googleAnalyticsId":"","fbiaAudienceNetworkPlacement1":"","hostname":{"id":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5","primary":"https://stg.empireonline.com"},"composed":{"hostname":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5"}},"urls":["empire/movies/reviews/kid-king/"],"composed":{"heroImage":["5c6a303886ae5f1794463085"],"author":"5c6a09e786ae5f1794457425","images":["5c6a303886ae5f1794463086"],"imageGalleries":[],"publications":["5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74"],"categories":["5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f8"],"primaryPublication":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","film":["5c69a62f86ae5f1794442242"]}},{"id":"5c6a303886ae5f1794463084","title":"Alita: Battle Angel","subtitle":null,"furl":"alita-battle-angel","urlOverride":"alita-battle-angel","publications":[{"id":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","amp":null,"preview":null,"name":"Empire","urlSlugHide":true,"furl":"empire","stationCode":"","language":"en","hostname":{"id":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5","primary":"https://stg.empireonline.com"},"composed":{"hostname":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5"}}],"primarySyndicatePosition":0,"categories":[{"id":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f8","name":"Reviews","furl":"reviews","parent":{"id":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f5","name":"Movies","furl":"movies"},"composed":{"parent":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f5"}}],"pageTemplate":"review","nutshell":"In the year 2563, cybernetics expert Dr Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) discovers a 300-year-old trash-heap treasure: the “core” of a highly advanced, full-body cyborg with a surviving teenage-girl brain. He rebuilds her and names her after his dead daughter, Alita. But, it turns out, he can’t protect his new Alita (Rosa Salazar) from her own warrior instincts, or from the shady characters out to scrap her.","verdict":"Best enjoyed for the fun, slick action and the astonishing, super-expressive realisation of Alita herself, because elsewhere it’s cyberpunk business as usual, marred by some sloppy plotting.","rating":"3","film":[{"id":"5c69a62486ae5f1794441e05","furl":"alita-battle-angel","title":"Alita: Battle Angel","website":"","heroImage":[{"id":"5c69a62486ae5f1794441e04","altText":"Alita: Battle Angel","caption":"Alita: Battle Angel","credits":"TMDB","image":{"fileName":"2tORuaa5qxWmyMygBh9K67gZTs0.jpg","name":"2tORuaa5qxWmyMygBh9K67gZTs0.jpg","width":1920,"height":1080,"mimeType":"image/jpeg","path":"one/empire-tmdb/films/399579/images"}}],"composed":{"heroImage":["5c69a62486ae5f1794441e04"]}}],"published":{"state":"published","scheduledEnd":null,"wasPublished":true},"target":"international","isLegacy":true,"legacy":{"id":"5c531e0efd0c0bc8444a6bc2","collection":"reviews_films","publication":"empire","furl":"alita-battle-angel","url":"movies/alita-battle-angel/review/","cms":"http://bantam.empireonline.com/edit.php?c=reviews_films.content&_id=5c531e0efd0c0bc8444a6bc2","urlHistory":[],"createdAt":1548951054896},"toplistFeature":false,"hiddenArticle":false,"excerpt":"James Cameron is a filmmaker who’s never failed to surprise us. He gave Alien...","metaTitle":"","metaDescription":"James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez collaborate on a manga-based cyborg sci-fi. Read the Empire review.","sourceText":null,"sourceUrl":null,"_layout":[{"content":"Alita: Battle Angel","type":"title"},{"content":{"id":"5c6a303786ae5f1794463082","altText":"Alita: Battle Angel","caption":"","credits":"","image":{"fileName":"alita-1.jpg","name":"alita-1.jpg","path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c531e0efd0c0bc8444a6bc2","width":640,"height":480,"mimeType":"image/jpeg"}},"displayName":"Article Hero","free":true,"name":"hero","type":"heroImage"},{"content":"[James Cameron](https://www.empireonline.com/people/james-cameron/) is a filmmaker who’s never failed to surprise us. He gave *[Alien](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/alien/review/)* a kick-ass war-movie sequel and turned an over-budget sinking-ship romance into history’s biggest movie, subsequently outgrossed when he made us all go ga-ga for nine-foot-tall blue cat people. His cinematic visions have always felt awesomely vast and startlingly original.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":{"id":"5c6a303786ae5f1794463083","image":{"path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c531e0efd0c0bc8444a6bc2","fileName":"alita-2.jpg","name":"alita-2.jpg","width":"640","height":"480","mimeType":"image/jpeg"},"caption":"","altText":"Alita: Battle Angel"},"displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"images"},{"content":"But what’s surprising about *[Alita: Battle Angel](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/alita-battle-angel/)* is how familiar it feels. Its have/have-not divided world, where sky-utopia Zalem floats over the trash-bombed Iron City, was recently done in *[Elysium](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/elysium/review/)*. Its plot-driving future-sport, ‘Motorball’, is *[Rollerball](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/rollerball/review/)* with a *[Transformers](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/transformers/review/)* makeover. And its protagonist’s struggle with identity and humanity is right out of *[Ghost In The Shell](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/ghost-shell/review/)* (both versions). Even the manga-eyed Alita, while no uncanny valley girl and stunning rendered by Weta Digital’s state-of-the-artists, recalls *[Ready Player One](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/ready-player-one/review/)*’s OASIS avatars.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":"When Alita pirouettes into action, Rodriguez doesn’t fail to deliver.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"pullQuotes"},{"content":"Of course, this isn’t strictly a James Cameron film; *Alita*’s writer and producer passed the directing reins to [Robert Rodriguez](https://www.empireonline.com/people/robert-rodriguez/). And, like *Ghost In The Shell*, it’s an elaborate, live-action reskin of a manga-based anime (Yukito Kishiro’s *Battle Angel Alita*). But, given he’d held it so close for decades, refining the script and world building with Laeta Kalogridis (*[Terminator Genisys](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/terminator-genisys/review/)*, *[Altered Carbon](https://www.empireonline.com/tv/altered-carbon-season-1/)*), you might have hoped it would feel less like another cyberpunky mash-up and more like a stand-out James Cameron spectacle.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":"Thankfully, Rodriguez at least proves the right directing understudy, effortlessly upgrading his hands-on, low-fi, free-swaggering style to compete in the megabucks studio arena. When Alita pirouettes into action, crunching cyborg skulls with her slender fists or slicing them into robo-Chum with her iconic Damascus Blade, Rodriguez doesn’t fail to deliver, keeping the choreography slick and inventive, while pushing the 12A rating as far as he can. We’d expect nothing less from the crazyhead behind *[Desperado](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/desperado/review/)*, *[Planet Terror](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/planet-terror/review/)* and *[From Dusk Till Dawn](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/dusk-till-dawn/review/)*. There’s even a glorious, bloody brawl in a bar-room which feels like a bionic Titty Twister. His glee for squirmy-violent beats is evident throughout, as is his aptitude for lean, propulsive storytelling — during the first hour at least.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":{"url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cislZ9S0ocA","provider":"youtube"},"displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"embeds"},{"content":"When it hits the final act, things start to crumble like Iron City’s masonry. The Motorball thread — will Alita become the sport’s champ and gain access to Zalem? — is strangely side-lined. The romance, between Alita and bland bad-boy Hugo ([Keean Johnson](https://www.empireonline.com/people/keean-johnson/)), is plumped into implausibility. Characters start popping up in places they’d never know to be, just because the plot demands it. And the cliffhanger ending is flagrant sequel-bait, frustratingly delaying the revolutionary resolution Alita deserves. We can only hope that a second film will lift her out of cyber genre conventions and conjure a bit more of that old Cameron magic.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"}],"heroImage":[{"id":"5c6a303786ae5f1794463082","altText":"Alita: Battle Angel","caption":"","credits":"","image":{"fileName":"alita-1.jpg","name":"alita-1.jpg","path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c531e0efd0c0bc8444a6bc2","width":640,"height":480,"mimeType":"image/jpeg"}}],"content":["[James Cameron](https://www.empireonline.com/people/james-cameron/) is a filmmaker who’s never failed to surprise us. He gave *[Alien](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/alien/review/)* a kick-ass war-movie sequel and turned an over-budget sinking-ship romance into history’s biggest movie, subsequently outgrossed when he made us all go ga-ga for nine-foot-tall blue cat people. His cinematic visions have always felt awesomely vast and startlingly original.","But what’s surprising about *[Alita: Battle Angel](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/alita-battle-angel/)* is how familiar it feels. Its have/have-not divided world, where sky-utopia Zalem floats over the trash-bombed Iron City, was recently done in *[Elysium](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/elysium/review/)*. Its plot-driving future-sport, ‘Motorball’, is *[Rollerball](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/rollerball/review/)* with a *[Transformers](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/transformers/review/)* makeover. And its protagonist’s struggle with identity and humanity is right out of *[Ghost In The Shell](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/ghost-shell/review/)* (both versions). Even the manga-eyed Alita, while no uncanny valley girl and stunning rendered by Weta Digital’s state-of-the-artists, recalls *[Ready Player One](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/ready-player-one/review/)*’s OASIS avatars.","Of course, this isn’t strictly a James Cameron film; *Alita*’s writer and producer passed the directing reins to [Robert Rodriguez](https://www.empireonline.com/people/robert-rodriguez/). And, like *Ghost In The Shell*, it’s an elaborate, live-action reskin of a manga-based anime (Yukito Kishiro’s *Battle Angel Alita*). But, given he’d held it so close for decades, refining the script and world building with Laeta Kalogridis (*[Terminator Genisys](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/terminator-genisys/review/)*, *[Altered Carbon](https://www.empireonline.com/tv/altered-carbon-season-1/)*), you might have hoped it would feel less like another cyberpunky mash-up and more like a stand-out James Cameron spectacle.","Thankfully, Rodriguez at least proves the right directing understudy, effortlessly upgrading his hands-on, low-fi, free-swaggering style to compete in the megabucks studio arena. When Alita pirouettes into action, crunching cyborg skulls with her slender fists or slicing them into robo-Chum with her iconic Damascus Blade, Rodriguez doesn’t fail to deliver, keeping the choreography slick and inventive, while pushing the 12A rating as far as he can. We’d expect nothing less from the crazyhead behind *[Desperado](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/desperado/review/)*, *[Planet Terror](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/planet-terror/review/)* and *[From Dusk Till Dawn](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/dusk-till-dawn/review/)*. There’s even a glorious, bloody brawl in a bar-room which feels like a bionic Titty Twister. His glee for squirmy-violent beats is evident throughout, as is his aptitude for lean, propulsive storytelling — during the first hour at least.","When it hits the final act, things start to crumble like Iron City’s masonry. The Motorball thread — will Alita become the sport’s champ and gain access to Zalem? — is strangely side-lined. The romance, between Alita and bland bad-boy Hugo ([Keean Johnson](https://www.empireonline.com/people/keean-johnson/)), is plumped into implausibility. Characters start popping up in places they’d never know to be, just because the plot demands it. And the cliffhanger ending is flagrant sequel-bait, frustratingly delaying the revolutionary resolution Alita deserves. We can only hope that a second film will lift her out of cyber genre conventions and conjure a bit more of that old Cameron magic."],"embeds":[{"url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cislZ9S0ocA","provider":"youtube"}],"images":[{"id":"5c6a303786ae5f1794463083","image":{"path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c531e0efd0c0bc8444a6bc2","fileName":"alita-2.jpg","name":"alita-2.jpg","width":"640","height":"480","mimeType":"image/jpeg"},"caption":"","altText":"Alita: Battle Angel"}],"imageGalleries":[],"pullQuotes":["When Alita pirouettes into action, Rodriguez doesn’t fail to deliver."],"publicationDate":1548972000000,"author":{"id":"5a0ecfd9d7aa8e33ecab37c3","fullname":"Willow Green"},"author_custom":"Dan Jolin","apiVersion":"1.0","createdAt":1548951054896,"createdBy":"testClient","v":1,"primaryPublication":{"id":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","preview":null,"name":"Empire","urlSlugHide":true,"furl":"empire","stationCode":"","language":"en","googleAnalyticsId":"","fbiaAudienceNetworkPlacement1":"","hostname":{"id":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5","primary":"https://stg.empireonline.com"},"composed":{"hostname":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5"}},"urls":["empire/movies/reviews/alita-battle-angel/"],"composed":{"heroImage":["5c6a303786ae5f1794463082"],"author":"5a0ecfd9d7aa8e33ecab37c3","images":["5c6a303786ae5f1794463083"],"imageGalleries":[],"publications":["5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74"],"categories":["5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f8"],"primaryPublication":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","film":["5c69a62486ae5f1794441e05"]}},{"id":"5c6a303786ae5f1794463081","title":"Escape Room","subtitle":null,"furl":"escape-room","urlOverride":"escape-room","publications":[{"id":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","amp":null,"preview":null,"name":"Empire","urlSlugHide":true,"furl":"empire","stationCode":"","language":"en","hostname":{"id":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5","primary":"https://stg.empireonline.com"},"composed":{"hostname":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5"}}],"primarySyndicatePosition":0,"categories":[{"id":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f8","name":"Reviews","furl":"reviews","parent":{"id":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f5","name":"Movies","furl":"movies"},"composed":{"parent":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f5"}}],"pageTemplate":"review","nutshell":"Six strangers come together in an escape room, all competing for a prize of $10,000. It slowly dawns on them that they’re not playing for money, they are playing for their lives. ","verdict":"Escape Room is like The Crystal Maze with more death. It’s fun at the start then loses its way, but it’ll do until ‘Flossing: The Movie’ comes along.","rating":"2","film":[{"id":"5c69a63086ae5f1794442267","furl":"escape-room","title":"Escape Room","website":"","heroImage":[{"id":"5c69a63086ae5f1794442266","altText":"Escape Room","caption":"Escape Room","credits":"TMDB","image":{"fileName":"9cmrRktcAmhteKMNRl2hU6rQzLJ.jpg","name":"9cmrRktcAmhteKMNRl2hU6rQzLJ.jpg","width":1400,"height":786,"mimeType":"image/jpeg","path":"one/empire-tmdb/films/522681/images"}}],"composed":{"heroImage":["5c69a63086ae5f1794442266"]}}],"published":{"state":"published","scheduledEnd":null,"wasPublished":true},"target":"international","isLegacy":true,"legacy":{"id":"5c50784efd0c0bc8444a5090","collection":"reviews_films","publication":"empire","furl":"escape-room","url":"movies/escape-room/review/","cms":"http://bantam.empireonline.com/edit.php?c=reviews_films.content&_id=5c50784efd0c0bc8444a5090","urlHistory":[],"createdAt":1548777550624},"toplistFeature":false,"hiddenArticle":false,"excerpt":"One of a long list of films based on pop-culture fads — hello, Lambada —...","metaTitle":"","metaDescription":"Six friends enter a deadly game in this horror. Read the Empire review.","sourceText":null,"sourceUrl":null,"_layout":[{"content":"Escape Room","type":"title"},{"content":{"id":"5c6a303786ae5f1794463080","altText":"Escape Room","caption":"","credits":"","image":{"fileName":"escape-room-1.jpg","name":"escape-room-1.jpg","path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c50784efd0c0bc8444a5090","width":640,"height":480,"mimeType":"image/jpeg"}},"displayName":"Article Hero","free":true,"name":"hero","type":"heroImage"},{"content":"One of a long list of films based on pop-culture fads — hello, *[Lambada](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/lambada/review/)* — *[Escape Room](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/escape-room/)* is a film about the recent ‘experiential’ trend in which the players — often office workers on ‘team building’ events — have to solve a series of clues and puzzles to get out of a locked space in a set time. It’s a handy crutch on which to support a scary, suspenseful flick in the vein of *[The Game](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/game/review/)*, *[Cube](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/cube-2/review/)* or *[Saw](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/saw/review/)*, but unfortunately, playing for thrills rather than torture porn, Adam Robitel’s film gets about halfway in terms of delivering on the promise.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":"After a flash-forward to a character in deep doo-doo, the set-up is a little mechanical, introducing us one by one to the (thinly drawn) key players as they are invited to the game via a little black box bearing the old Cannon films logo. So we meet shy but genius maths student Zoey (Taylor Russell), cynical millennial Ben (Logan Miller), dedicated escape roomer Danny (Nik Dodani), scarred Iraq War vet Amanda (Deborah Ann Woll), blue-collar trucker Mike (Tyler Labine) and smarmy financial whizz Jason (Jay Ellis).","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":"The characters lack dimensions.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"pullQuotes"},{"content":"Alighting in a huge deserted building, things pick up when the games begin: firstly, when the plush waiting room actually morphs into the first challenge, threatening to burn the players alive; the next throws them into a picturesque winter wonderland where — wouldn’t you know — the ice starts to melt and crack. And the third space is the best of all: a huge bar with a pool table and gigantic juke box (playing a slowed-down version of Petula Clark’s ‘Downtown’ on loop) that is revealed to be upside down, the floor/ceiling falling away to reveal a deadly drop.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":{"url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dSKUoV0SNI","provider":"youtube"},"displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"embeds"},{"content":"Up until now, it’s been a fun game morphing into a battle of survival, with some neat licks (there’s a nifty task where characters have to keep a series of glasses full at all time) — although the puzzles never extend to allow the audience to play along. Like most films of its ilk, the effort has gone into the contraptions, meaning the characters lack dimensions. As the machinations continue and it is revealed that the game-players are all connected in some way, the already high level of contrivance is further amped up, triggering exasperation. By the time the last door is unlocked, it is hard to care.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"}],"heroImage":[{"id":"5c6a303786ae5f1794463080","altText":"Escape Room","caption":"","credits":"","image":{"fileName":"escape-room-1.jpg","name":"escape-room-1.jpg","path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c50784efd0c0bc8444a5090","width":640,"height":480,"mimeType":"image/jpeg"}}],"content":["One of a long list of films based on pop-culture fads — hello, *[Lambada](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/lambada/review/)* — *[Escape Room](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/escape-room/)* is a film about the recent ‘experiential’ trend in which the players — often office workers on ‘team building’ events — have to solve a series of clues and puzzles to get out of a locked space in a set time. It’s a handy crutch on which to support a scary, suspenseful flick in the vein of *[The Game](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/game/review/)*, *[Cube](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/cube-2/review/)* or *[Saw](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/saw/review/)*, but unfortunately, playing for thrills rather than torture porn, Adam Robitel’s film gets about halfway in terms of delivering on the promise.","After a flash-forward to a character in deep doo-doo, the set-up is a little mechanical, introducing us one by one to the (thinly drawn) key players as they are invited to the game via a little black box bearing the old Cannon films logo. So we meet shy but genius maths student Zoey (Taylor Russell), cynical millennial Ben (Logan Miller), dedicated escape roomer Danny (Nik Dodani), scarred Iraq War vet Amanda (Deborah Ann Woll), blue-collar trucker Mike (Tyler Labine) and smarmy financial whizz Jason (Jay Ellis).","Alighting in a huge deserted building, things pick up when the games begin: firstly, when the plush waiting room actually morphs into the first challenge, threatening to burn the players alive; the next throws them into a picturesque winter wonderland where — wouldn’t you know — the ice starts to melt and crack. And the third space is the best of all: a huge bar with a pool table and gigantic juke box (playing a slowed-down version of Petula Clark’s ‘Downtown’ on loop) that is revealed to be upside down, the floor/ceiling falling away to reveal a deadly drop.","Up until now, it’s been a fun game morphing into a battle of survival, with some neat licks (there’s a nifty task where characters have to keep a series of glasses full at all time) — although the puzzles never extend to allow the audience to play along. Like most films of its ilk, the effort has gone into the contraptions, meaning the characters lack dimensions. As the machinations continue and it is revealed that the game-players are all connected in some way, the already high level of contrivance is further amped up, triggering exasperation. By the time the last door is unlocked, it is hard to care."],"embeds":[{"url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dSKUoV0SNI","provider":"youtube"}],"images":[],"imageGalleries":[],"pullQuotes":["The characters lack dimensions."],"publicationDate":1548777360000,"author":{"id":"5a0ecfd9d7aa8e33ecab37c3","fullname":"Willow Green"},"author_custom":"Ian Freer","apiVersion":"1.0","createdAt":1548777550624,"createdBy":"testClient","v":1,"primaryPublication":{"id":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","preview":null,"name":"Empire","urlSlugHide":true,"furl":"empire","stationCode":"","language":"en","googleAnalyticsId":"","fbiaAudienceNetworkPlacement1":"","hostname":{"id":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5","primary":"https://stg.empireonline.com"},"composed":{"hostname":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5"}},"urls":["empire/movies/reviews/escape-room/"],"composed":{"heroImage":["5c6a303786ae5f1794463080"],"author":"5a0ecfd9d7aa8e33ecab37c3","images":[],"imageGalleries":[],"publications":["5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74"],"categories":["5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f8"],"primaryPublication":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","film":["5c69a63086ae5f1794442267"]}},{"id":"5c6a303786ae5f179446307f","title":"How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World","subtitle":null,"furl":"train-dragon-hidden-world","urlOverride":"train-dragon-hidden-world","publications":[{"id":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","amp":null,"preview":null,"name":"Empire","urlSlugHide":true,"furl":"empire","stationCode":"","language":"en","hostname":{"id":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5","primary":"https://stg.empireonline.com"},"composed":{"hostname":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5"}}],"primarySyndicatePosition":0,"categories":[{"id":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f8","name":"Reviews","furl":"reviews","parent":{"id":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f5","name":"Movies","furl":"movies"},"composed":{"parent":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f5"}}],"pageTemplate":"review","nutshell":"Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), now chief of Berk, has turned the island into a thriving dragon haven. When hunter Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham) threatens to disrupt the peace, Hiccup sets out to discover the legendary Hidden World and establish a dragon and Viking utopia.","verdict":"DreamWorks Animation’s most heartfelt series bows out with a beautifully designed finale, but the long-awaited emotional goodbyes for its beloved central duo don’t quite soar.","rating":"3","film":[{"id":"5c69a62c86ae5f1794442106","furl":"train-dragon-hidden-world","title":"How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World","website":"","heroImage":[{"id":"5c69a62c86ae5f1794442105","altText":"How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World","caption":"How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World","credits":"TMDB","image":{"fileName":"c56qP2v5vDeYd6Kre9DL47VMcUH.jpg","name":"c56qP2v5vDeYd6Kre9DL47VMcUH.jpg","width":1280,"height":720,"mimeType":"image/jpeg","path":"one/empire-tmdb/films/166428/images"}}],"composed":{"heroImage":["5c69a62c86ae5f1794442105"]}}],"published":{"state":"published","scheduledEnd":null,"wasPublished":true},"target":"international","isLegacy":true,"legacy":{"id":"5c4ee437fd0c0bc8444a3e5e","collection":"reviews_films","publication":"empire","furl":"train-dragon-hidden-world","url":"movies/train-dragon-hidden-world/review/","cms":"http://bantam.empireonline.com/edit.php?c=reviews_films.content&_id=5c4ee437fd0c0bc8444a3e5e","urlHistory":[],"createdAt":1548674103586},"toplistFeature":false,"hiddenArticle":false,"excerpt":"For all its mythical fire-breathing reptiles, the How To Train Your Dragon...","metaTitle":"","metaDescription":"DreamWorks' fantasy coming-of-age trilogy comes to a close. Read the Empire review.","sourceText":null,"sourceUrl":null,"_layout":[{"content":"How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World","type":"title"},{"content":{"id":"5c6a303686ae5f179446307e","altText":"How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World","caption":"","credits":"","image":{"fileName":"how-to-train-3.jpg","name":"how-to-train-3.jpg","path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c4ee437fd0c0bc8444a3e5e","width":640,"height":480,"mimeType":"image/jpeg"}},"displayName":"Article Hero","free":true,"name":"hero","type":"heroImage"},{"content":"For all its mythical fire-breathing reptiles, the *How To Train Your Dragon* series is a coming-of-age story at heart. Hiccup ([Jay Baruchel](https://www.empireonline.com/people/jay-baruchel/)), originally a kid on the cusp of adolescence, and Toothless, his adorable Night Fury, have grown up incrementally with each instalment — a boy-and-his-cat-dragon duo who rank among DreamWorks Animation’s most emotionally engaging partnerships.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":"*[The Hidden World](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/train-dragon-hidden-world/)* takes Hiccup into young adulthood, wielding his flame-sword confidently as chief of the Isle of Berk — but he and Toothless face diverging futures. Marriage could be on the cards for Hiccup if he can stop dithering and finally propose to Astrid ([America Ferrera](https://www.empireonline.com/people/america-ferrara/)), while Toothless now has a romantic foil of his own. Stumbling across a Light Fury, the yin to his yang, the dragon is instantly smitten. His doe-eyed lovestruck antics, including the sort of flamboyant flirting usually reserved for a David Attenborough doc, are *The Hidden World*’s utterly charming highlight.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":"The big goodbye doesn't quite sucker-punch the tear ducts like it should.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"pullQuotes"},{"content":"But the Light Fury also heralds the emergence of hunter Grimmel ([F. Murray Abraham](https://www.empireonline.com/people/f-murray-abraham/)) — a menacing villain with his own set of dragons that spew bright-green, Xenomorph-blood acid. Despite his peroxide-blonde hair, Grimmel is no Targaryen — his attitude to dragons is far from friendly, forcing Hiccup to seek new horizons for Berk and its people.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":"Despite the dramatic urgency Grimmel brings, the film struggles to streamline its plot threads and character pay-offs. It takes a little long to really get going, while irritating supporting characters like Tuffnut and Ruffnut (Justin Rupple, [Kristen Wiig](https://www.empireonline.com/people/kristen-wiig/)) clutter the screen — if the franchise’s initial audience has since grown up, the dialogue here skews frustratingly young. There are highlights — the opening misty dragon raid by Hiccup and pals, the DayGlo arrival to the titular Hidden World — though the original’s exhilarating flying sequences remain unmatched.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":{"url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acDHTkslk2w","provider":"youtube"},"displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"embeds"},{"content":"Crucially, with so much going on and a reluctance to bench its minor players, *The Hidden World* barely leaves room for the contemplative character moments an ending chapter deserves. When that big goodbye finally arrives, it doesn’t quite sucker-punch the tear ducts in the way it should. Compared to the elegiac climax of *[Toy Story 3](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/toy-story-3/review/)* — and *Dragon* is as close as DreamWorks comes to Pixar-level sentiment — this farewell to Hiccup and Toothless’ childhood friendship could burn a little brighter.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"}],"heroImage":[{"id":"5c6a303686ae5f179446307e","altText":"How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World","caption":"","credits":"","image":{"fileName":"how-to-train-3.jpg","name":"how-to-train-3.jpg","path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c4ee437fd0c0bc8444a3e5e","width":640,"height":480,"mimeType":"image/jpeg"}}],"content":["For all its mythical fire-breathing reptiles, the *How To Train Your Dragon* series is a coming-of-age story at heart. Hiccup ([Jay Baruchel](https://www.empireonline.com/people/jay-baruchel/)), originally a kid on the cusp of adolescence, and Toothless, his adorable Night Fury, have grown up incrementally with each instalment — a boy-and-his-cat-dragon duo who rank among DreamWorks Animation’s most emotionally engaging partnerships.","*[The Hidden World](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/train-dragon-hidden-world/)* takes Hiccup into young adulthood, wielding his flame-sword confidently as chief of the Isle of Berk — but he and Toothless face diverging futures. Marriage could be on the cards for Hiccup if he can stop dithering and finally propose to Astrid ([America Ferrera](https://www.empireonline.com/people/america-ferrara/)), while Toothless now has a romantic foil of his own. Stumbling across a Light Fury, the yin to his yang, the dragon is instantly smitten. His doe-eyed lovestruck antics, including the sort of flamboyant flirting usually reserved for a David Attenborough doc, are *The Hidden World*’s utterly charming highlight.","But the Light Fury also heralds the emergence of hunter Grimmel ([F. Murray Abraham](https://www.empireonline.com/people/f-murray-abraham/)) — a menacing villain with his own set of dragons that spew bright-green, Xenomorph-blood acid. Despite his peroxide-blonde hair, Grimmel is no Targaryen — his attitude to dragons is far from friendly, forcing Hiccup to seek new horizons for Berk and its people.","Despite the dramatic urgency Grimmel brings, the film struggles to streamline its plot threads and character pay-offs. It takes a little long to really get going, while irritating supporting characters like Tuffnut and Ruffnut (Justin Rupple, [Kristen Wiig](https://www.empireonline.com/people/kristen-wiig/)) clutter the screen — if the franchise’s initial audience has since grown up, the dialogue here skews frustratingly young. There are highlights — the opening misty dragon raid by Hiccup and pals, the DayGlo arrival to the titular Hidden World — though the original’s exhilarating flying sequences remain unmatched.","Crucially, with so much going on and a reluctance to bench its minor players, *The Hidden World* barely leaves room for the contemplative character moments an ending chapter deserves. When that big goodbye finally arrives, it doesn’t quite sucker-punch the tear ducts in the way it should. Compared to the elegiac climax of *[Toy Story 3](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/toy-story-3/review/)* — and *Dragon* is as close as DreamWorks comes to Pixar-level sentiment — this farewell to Hiccup and Toothless’ childhood friendship could burn a little brighter."],"embeds":[{"url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acDHTkslk2w","provider":"youtube"}],"images":[],"imageGalleries":[],"pullQuotes":["The big goodbye doesn't quite sucker-punch the tear ducts like it should."],"publicationDate":1548673920000,"author":{"id":"5a0ecfd9d7aa8e33ecab37c3","fullname":"Willow Green"},"author_custom":"Ben Travis","apiVersion":"1.0","createdAt":1548674103586,"createdBy":"testClient","v":1,"primaryPublication":{"id":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","preview":null,"name":"Empire","urlSlugHide":true,"furl":"empire","stationCode":"","language":"en","googleAnalyticsId":"","fbiaAudienceNetworkPlacement1":"","hostname":{"id":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5","primary":"https://stg.empireonline.com"},"composed":{"hostname":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5"}},"urls":["empire/movies/reviews/train-dragon-hidden-world/"],"composed":{"heroImage":["5c6a303686ae5f179446307e"],"author":"5a0ecfd9d7aa8e33ecab37c3","images":[],"imageGalleries":[],"publications":["5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74"],"categories":["5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f8"],"primaryPublication":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","film":["5c69a62c86ae5f1794442106"]}},{"id":"5c6a303686ae5f179446307d","title":"Burning","subtitle":null,"furl":"burning-3","urlOverride":"burning-3","publications":[{"id":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","amp":null,"preview":null,"name":"Empire","urlSlugHide":true,"furl":"empire","stationCode":"","language":"en","hostname":{"id":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5","primary":"https://stg.empireonline.com"},"composed":{"hostname":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5"}}],"primarySyndicatePosition":0,"categories":[{"id":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f8","name":"Reviews","furl":"reviews","parent":{"id":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f5","name":"Movies","furl":"movies"},"composed":{"parent":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f5"}}],"pageTemplate":"review","nutshell":"Aspiring writer Jongsu (Yoo Ah-in) reconnects with school friend Haemi (Jun Jong-seo), the couple quickly getting together. Haemi takes a trip to Africa and returns with the affluent Ben (Steven Yeun) by her side. His nose out of joint, Jongsu is further disturbed by the revelation of Ben’s unusual hobby…","verdict":"Slow and difficult to get a hold on, Burning emerges as a brilliantly made one-off; puzzling, intelligent and ultimately mesmerising. And Jong-seo Jun is a revelation.","rating":"4","film":[{"id":"5c69a63186ae5f17944422e0","furl":"burning-3","title":"Burning","website":"","heroImage":[{"id":"5c69a63186ae5f17944422df","altText":"Burning","caption":"Burning","credits":"TMDB","image":{"fileName":"uRLdyXunYmcfnRFyEfHH3mi7Yy7.jpg","name":"uRLdyXunYmcfnRFyEfHH3mi7Yy7.jpg","width":1706,"height":960,"mimeType":"image/jpeg","path":"one/empire-tmdb/films/491584/images"}}],"composed":{"heroImage":["5c69a63186ae5f17944422df"]}}],"published":{"state":"published","scheduledEnd":null,"wasPublished":true},"target":"international","isLegacy":true,"legacy":{"id":"5c4edc52fd0c0bc8444a3df7","collection":"reviews_films","publication":"empire","furl":"burning-3","url":"movies/burning-3/review/","cms":"http://bantam.empireonline.com/edit.php?c=reviews_films.content&_id=5c4edc52fd0c0bc8444a3df7","urlHistory":[],"createdAt":1548672082814},"toplistFeature":false,"hiddenArticle":false,"excerpt":"Just as Hollywood often trades in narrative certainties and soothing...","metaTitle":"","metaDescription":"Steven Yeun stars in Lee Chang-dong's slow-burn thriller. Read the Empire review.","sourceText":null,"sourceUrl":null,"_layout":[{"content":"Burning","type":"title"},{"content":{"id":"5c6a303686ae5f179446307b","altText":"Burning","caption":"","credits":"","image":{"fileName":"burning-2.jpg","name":"burning-2.jpg","path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c4edc52fd0c0bc8444a3df7","width":640,"height":480,"mimeType":"image/jpeg"}},"displayName":"Article Hero","free":true,"name":"hero","type":"heroImage"},{"content":"Just as Hollywood often trades in narrative certainties and soothing resolutions, *Burning* is built on ambiguity. Inspired by Haruki Murakami’s story *Barn Burning*, South Korean filmmaker Lee Chang-dong’s first film since 2010’s *[Poetry](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/poetry/review/)* takes thriller movie tropes (no spoilers) and dials the pace and thrills right down, replacing them with foreboding and dread. Elliptical and strange, it is more cryptic than the toughest crossword, but stick with it: the rewards are manifold.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":{"id":"5c6a303686ae5f179446307c","image":{"path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c4edc52fd0c0bc8444a3df7","fileName":"burning-3.jpg","name":"burning-3.jpg","width":"640","height":"480","mimeType":"image/jpeg"},"caption":"","altText":"Burning"},"displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"images"},{"content":"For its first half hour or so, *Burning* proffers an engaging, nuanced romance. Wannabe writer Jongsu (Yoo) bumps into old school friend Haemi (Jun) selling lottery tickets on the street. The pair have a lightning courtship — her tangerine-eating mime during dinner is super charming — and are soon having sex in her cramped apartment, Jongsu promising to feed Haemi’s cat Boil (the name becomes important later) while she is on a trip to Africa. It’s here that the enigmas and twists that become *Burning*’s stock-in-trade start to rack up. Firstly, during Haemi’s absence, Jongsu never actually sees Boil, although the food is being eaten and kitty litter messed with. Secondly, she returns from the Kalahari with a new beau in tow — Ben ([Steven Yeun](https://www.empireonline.com/people/steven-yeun/)), a Korean Jay Gatsby, confident and out for fun. Jongsu understandably is knocked for six.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":"Engrossing and unpredictable.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"pullQuotes"},{"content":"This triangular relationship evolves into an engrossing and unpredictable psychological thriller. Syringed into the story are reflections on class conflicts, sexual jealousy, dealing with your past (Jongsu is from a fractured family) and a study in how introspection can build into feelings of injustice and retribution. Chang-dong keeps everything on a slow boil (not the cat), reaching a poetic creepiness in long stretches without dialogue. The craft is hypnotic and exquisite (step forward cinematographer Hong Kyung-pyo), but the overall effect is unnerving.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":{"url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFKnOaJYwJI","provider":"youtube"},"displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"embeds"},{"content":"As a hero, Jonsu is an introverted, not-easy-to-warm-to hero but Yoo suggests oceans of longing before turning into 2019’s most shambolic detective. Casting the charismatic Yeun is a masterstroke; his star status on *The Walking Dead* means Ben instantly lauds it over Jonsu without the actor doing anything — he takes the stereotypical rich, romantic suitor and invests him with vulnerability beneath the bravado. But it is Jun who is the breakout here, so effervescent the film noticeably dims when she is not on screen. The film’s standout scene sees Jongsu and Ben share a joint as Haemi strips to the waist and dances to Miles Davis’ jazzy score for *Elevator To The Gallows*, not for the men’s pleasure but lost in her own reverie. It’s a bewitching turn that lights up the film. Just don’t expect any illumination on its mysteries.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"}],"heroImage":[{"id":"5c6a303686ae5f179446307b","altText":"Burning","caption":"","credits":"","image":{"fileName":"burning-2.jpg","name":"burning-2.jpg","path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c4edc52fd0c0bc8444a3df7","width":640,"height":480,"mimeType":"image/jpeg"}}],"content":["Just as Hollywood often trades in narrative certainties and soothing resolutions, *Burning* is built on ambiguity. Inspired by Haruki Murakami’s story *Barn Burning*, South Korean filmmaker Lee Chang-dong’s first film since 2010’s *[Poetry](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/poetry/review/)* takes thriller movie tropes (no spoilers) and dials the pace and thrills right down, replacing them with foreboding and dread. Elliptical and strange, it is more cryptic than the toughest crossword, but stick with it: the rewards are manifold.","For its first half hour or so, *Burning* proffers an engaging, nuanced romance. Wannabe writer Jongsu (Yoo) bumps into old school friend Haemi (Jun) selling lottery tickets on the street. The pair have a lightning courtship — her tangerine-eating mime during dinner is super charming — and are soon having sex in her cramped apartment, Jongsu promising to feed Haemi’s cat Boil (the name becomes important later) while she is on a trip to Africa. It’s here that the enigmas and twists that become *Burning*’s stock-in-trade start to rack up. Firstly, during Haemi’s absence, Jongsu never actually sees Boil, although the food is being eaten and kitty litter messed with. Secondly, she returns from the Kalahari with a new beau in tow — Ben ([Steven Yeun](https://www.empireonline.com/people/steven-yeun/)), a Korean Jay Gatsby, confident and out for fun. Jongsu understandably is knocked for six.","This triangular relationship evolves into an engrossing and unpredictable psychological thriller. Syringed into the story are reflections on class conflicts, sexual jealousy, dealing with your past (Jongsu is from a fractured family) and a study in how introspection can build into feelings of injustice and retribution. Chang-dong keeps everything on a slow boil (not the cat), reaching a poetic creepiness in long stretches without dialogue. The craft is hypnotic and exquisite (step forward cinematographer Hong Kyung-pyo), but the overall effect is unnerving.","As a hero, Jonsu is an introverted, not-easy-to-warm-to hero but Yoo suggests oceans of longing before turning into 2019’s most shambolic detective. Casting the charismatic Yeun is a masterstroke; his star status on *The Walking Dead* means Ben instantly lauds it over Jonsu without the actor doing anything — he takes the stereotypical rich, romantic suitor and invests him with vulnerability beneath the bravado. But it is Jun who is the breakout here, so effervescent the film noticeably dims when she is not on screen. The film’s standout scene sees Jongsu and Ben share a joint as Haemi strips to the waist and dances to Miles Davis’ jazzy score for *Elevator To The Gallows*, not for the men’s pleasure but lost in her own reverie. It’s a bewitching turn that lights up the film. Just don’t expect any illumination on its mysteries."],"embeds":[{"url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFKnOaJYwJI","provider":"youtube"}],"images":[{"id":"5c6a303686ae5f179446307c","image":{"path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c4edc52fd0c0bc8444a3df7","fileName":"burning-3.jpg","name":"burning-3.jpg","width":"640","height":"480","mimeType":"image/jpeg"},"caption":"","altText":"Burning"}],"imageGalleries":[],"pullQuotes":["Engrossing and unpredictable."],"publicationDate":1548671880000,"author":{"id":"5a0ecfd9d7aa8e33ecab37c3","fullname":"Willow Green"},"author_custom":"Ian Freer","apiVersion":"1.0","createdAt":1548672082814,"createdBy":"testClient","v":1,"primaryPublication":{"id":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","preview":null,"name":"Empire","urlSlugHide":true,"furl":"empire","stationCode":"","language":"en","googleAnalyticsId":"","fbiaAudienceNetworkPlacement1":"","hostname":{"id":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5","primary":"https://stg.empireonline.com"},"composed":{"hostname":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5"}},"urls":["empire/movies/reviews/burning-3/"],"composed":{"heroImage":["5c6a303686ae5f179446307b"],"author":"5a0ecfd9d7aa8e33ecab37c3","images":["5c6a303686ae5f179446307c"],"imageGalleries":[],"publications":["5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74"],"categories":["5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f8"],"primaryPublication":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","film":["5c69a63186ae5f17944422e0"]}},{"id":"5c6a303686ae5f179446307a","title":"Green Book","subtitle":null,"furl":"green-book","urlOverride":"green-book","publications":[{"id":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","amp":null,"preview":null,"name":"Empire","urlSlugHide":true,"furl":"empire","stationCode":"","language":"en","hostname":{"id":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5","primary":"https://stg.empireonline.com"},"composed":{"hostname":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5"}}],"primarySyndicatePosition":0,"categories":[{"id":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f8","name":"Reviews","furl":"reviews","parent":{"id":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f5","name":"Movies","furl":"movies"},"composed":{"parent":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f5"}}],"pageTemplate":"review","nutshell":"The true story of Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen), a working-class Italian-American, who in 1962 was hired by refined African-American pianist Dr Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) to drive him on a concert tour of the hostile Deep South.","verdict":"A supremely likeable film. Its message might seem obvious and its template overcooked, but it boasts a warm heart, with two astoundingly good lead performances to guide it home.","rating":"4","film":[{"id":"5c69a62e86ae5f17944421ef","furl":"green-book","title":"Green Book","website":"","heroImage":[{"id":"5c69a62e86ae5f17944421ee","altText":"Green Book","caption":"Green Book","credits":"TMDB","image":{"fileName":"78PjwaykLY2QqhMfWRDvmfbC6EV.jpg","name":"78PjwaykLY2QqhMfWRDvmfbC6EV.jpg","width":2048,"height":1152,"mimeType":"image/jpeg","path":"one/empire-tmdb/films/490132/images"}}],"composed":{"heroImage":["5c69a62e86ae5f17944421ee"]}}],"published":{"state":"published","scheduledEnd":null,"wasPublished":true},"target":"international","isLegacy":true,"legacy":{"id":"5c4ed6c0fd0c0bc8444a3d5c","collection":"reviews_films","publication":"empire","furl":"green-book","url":"movies/green-book/review/","cms":"http://bantam.empireonline.com/edit.php?c=reviews_films.content&_id=5c4ed6c0fd0c0bc8444a3d5c","urlHistory":[],"createdAt":1548670656640},"toplistFeature":false,"hiddenArticle":false,"excerpt":"The story of Tony Lip and Don Shirley is not a wildly original one. It’s an...","metaTitle":"","metaDescription":"Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen star in Peter Farrelly's comedy-drama. Read the Empire review.","sourceText":null,"sourceUrl":null,"_layout":[{"content":"Green Book","type":"title"},{"content":{"id":"5c6a303586ae5f1794463078","altText":"Green Book – Exclusive","caption":"","credits":"","image":{"fileName":"green-book-1.jpg","name":"green-book-1.jpg","path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c4ed6c0fd0c0bc8444a3d5c","width":640,"height":480,"mimeType":"image/jpeg"}},"displayName":"Article Hero","free":true,"name":"hero","type":"heroImage"},{"content":"The story of Tony Lip and Don Shirley is not a wildly original one. It’s an odd-couple road trip about how we’re all not so different, after all. No wheels are being reinvented here: it’s *[Driving Miss Daisy](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/driving-miss-daisy/review/)* by way of *[Planes, Trains And Automobiles](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/planes-trains-automobiles/review/)*, if you like. But the execution is so outrageously appealing and good-hearted that surrendering to its charms feels like the only option. [Peter Farrelly](https://www.empireonline.com/people/peter-farrelly/), most commonly known for leaning on the cheapest, dirtiest jokes he can find with his brother Bobby, here summons a gentler, more character-driven kind of humour, while telling a serious story about the compromises that African-Americans have been long forced to make by an oppressive white status quo.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":{"id":"5c6a303586ae5f1794463079","image":{"path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c4ed6c0fd0c0bc8444a3d5c","fileName":"green-book-2.jpg","name":"green-book-2.jpg","width":"640","height":"480","mimeType":"image/jpeg"},"caption":"","altText":"Green Book – Exclusive"},"displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"images"},{"content":"What makes the film so compelling is the chemistry that crackles from the central pair of actors. As Tony Lip, [Viggo Mortensen](https://www.empireonline.com/people/viggo-mortensen/)’s enjoyably larger-than-life performance sometimes skirts the fringes of caricature, but you can’t fault the all-encompassing commitment or his performance. As with Don Shirley, we’re soon worn down by his gregariousness, and taken by his transformation; any memory of the softly spoken Dane who once wielded the reforged sword from the shards of Narsil is soon quashed at the sight of his unbelievable (and apparently real) Italianate gut.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":"The central humanistic message is important, necessary and correct.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"pullQuotes"},{"content":"[Mahershala Ali](https://www.empireonline.com/people/mahershala-ali/)’s Don Shirley is a contrast, in every sense. A model of quiet elegance and self-possession, there’s humour to be found in his obsessive-compulsiveness and almost regal particularisms. But Ali, who has always been an incredibly thoughtful actor, coats his performance with a dignity and melancholy. His is not the average black experience in America, but as we later learn, he deliberately chooses to tour more hostile areas of the country, using his position as a celebrated musician for the sake of progress.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":"There’s been a fair few criticisms of *[Green Book](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/green-book/)*’s somewhat rose-tinted take on the appallingly violent reality of the Jim Crow South. You could certainly argue that its handle on racial politics is simplistic. But the film doesn’t shy from depicting racism in its ugliness and sadism when it counts. That it also acknowledges the intersectionality of Don’s experiences as a gay black man should not be ignored.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":{"url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdlzE7klSxg","provider":"youtube"},"displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"embeds"},{"content":"There are legitimate concerns that *Green Book* settles for lazy tropes about white saviours, but the central humanistic message is important, necessary and correct, and the fact that what could be a stiff, awards-hungry ‘message movie’ is in fact a crowdpleasing slice of mainstream entertainment means that message can reach audiences in all corners. At a time when racists are feeling more emboldened than they have any right to, that’s a very welcome message indeed.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"}],"heroImage":[{"id":"5c6a303586ae5f1794463078","altText":"Green Book – Exclusive","caption":"","credits":"","image":{"fileName":"green-book-1.jpg","name":"green-book-1.jpg","path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c4ed6c0fd0c0bc8444a3d5c","width":640,"height":480,"mimeType":"image/jpeg"}}],"content":["The story of Tony Lip and Don Shirley is not a wildly original one. It’s an odd-couple road trip about how we’re all not so different, after all. No wheels are being reinvented here: it’s *[Driving Miss Daisy](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/driving-miss-daisy/review/)* by way of *[Planes, Trains And Automobiles](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/planes-trains-automobiles/review/)*, if you like. But the execution is so outrageously appealing and good-hearted that surrendering to its charms feels like the only option. [Peter Farrelly](https://www.empireonline.com/people/peter-farrelly/), most commonly known for leaning on the cheapest, dirtiest jokes he can find with his brother Bobby, here summons a gentler, more character-driven kind of humour, while telling a serious story about the compromises that African-Americans have been long forced to make by an oppressive white status quo.","What makes the film so compelling is the chemistry that crackles from the central pair of actors. As Tony Lip, [Viggo Mortensen](https://www.empireonline.com/people/viggo-mortensen/)’s enjoyably larger-than-life performance sometimes skirts the fringes of caricature, but you can’t fault the all-encompassing commitment or his performance. As with Don Shirley, we’re soon worn down by his gregariousness, and taken by his transformation; any memory of the softly spoken Dane who once wielded the reforged sword from the shards of Narsil is soon quashed at the sight of his unbelievable (and apparently real) Italianate gut.","[Mahershala Ali](https://www.empireonline.com/people/mahershala-ali/)’s Don Shirley is a contrast, in every sense. A model of quiet elegance and self-possession, there’s humour to be found in his obsessive-compulsiveness and almost regal particularisms. But Ali, who has always been an incredibly thoughtful actor, coats his performance with a dignity and melancholy. His is not the average black experience in America, but as we later learn, he deliberately chooses to tour more hostile areas of the country, using his position as a celebrated musician for the sake of progress.","There’s been a fair few criticisms of *[Green Book](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/green-book/)*’s somewhat rose-tinted take on the appallingly violent reality of the Jim Crow South. You could certainly argue that its handle on racial politics is simplistic. But the film doesn’t shy from depicting racism in its ugliness and sadism when it counts. That it also acknowledges the intersectionality of Don’s experiences as a gay black man should not be ignored.","There are legitimate concerns that *Green Book* settles for lazy tropes about white saviours, but the central humanistic message is important, necessary and correct, and the fact that what could be a stiff, awards-hungry ‘message movie’ is in fact a crowdpleasing slice of mainstream entertainment means that message can reach audiences in all corners. At a time when racists are feeling more emboldened than they have any right to, that’s a very welcome message indeed."],"embeds":[{"url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdlzE7klSxg","provider":"youtube"}],"images":[{"id":"5c6a303586ae5f1794463079","image":{"path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c4ed6c0fd0c0bc8444a3d5c","fileName":"green-book-2.jpg","name":"green-book-2.jpg","width":"640","height":"480","mimeType":"image/jpeg"},"caption":"","altText":"Green Book – Exclusive"}],"imageGalleries":[],"pullQuotes":["The central humanistic message is important, necessary and correct."],"publicationDate":1548670440000,"author":{"id":"5c69a3b986ae5f179442c7be","fullname":"John Nugent","furl":"john-nugent"},"apiVersion":"1.0","createdAt":1548670656640,"createdBy":"testClient","v":1,"primaryPublication":{"id":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","preview":null,"name":"Empire","urlSlugHide":true,"furl":"empire","stationCode":"","language":"en","googleAnalyticsId":"","fbiaAudienceNetworkPlacement1":"","hostname":{"id":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5","primary":"https://stg.empireonline.com"},"composed":{"hostname":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5"}},"urls":["empire/movies/reviews/green-book/"],"composed":{"heroImage":["5c6a303586ae5f1794463078"],"author":"5c69a3b986ae5f179442c7be","images":["5c6a303586ae5f1794463079"],"imageGalleries":[],"publications":["5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74"],"categories":["5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f8"],"primaryPublication":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","film":["5c69a62e86ae5f17944421ef"]}},{"id":"5c6a303586ae5f1794463077","title":"Can You Ever Forgive Me?","subtitle":null,"furl":"can-ever-forgive","urlOverride":"can-ever-forgive","publications":[{"id":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","amp":null,"preview":null,"name":"Empire","urlSlugHide":true,"furl":"empire","stationCode":"","language":"en","hostname":{"id":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5","primary":"https://stg.empireonline.com"},"composed":{"hostname":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5"}}],"primarySyndicatePosition":0,"categories":[{"id":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f8","name":"Reviews","furl":"reviews","parent":{"id":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f5","name":"Movies","furl":"movies"},"composed":{"parent":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f5"}}],"pageTemplate":"review","nutshell":"1991, New York. Failing biographer Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy) sells a letter by US comedienne Fanny Brice to get some cash. When she is told the missive would be worth more if it was “juicier”, it inspires her to become a forger with astonishing results.","verdict":"A moving hymn to outsiders, this thrives on two criminally good performances from Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant. It also confirms Marielle Heller as one of the brightest directorial talents around.","rating":"4","film":[{"id":"5c69a62b86ae5f17944420d5","furl":"can-ever-forgive","title":"Can You Ever Forgive Me?","website":"","heroImage":[{"id":"5c69a62b86ae5f17944420d4","altText":"Can You Ever Forgive Me?","caption":"Can You Ever Forgive Me?","credits":"TMDB","image":{"fileName":"dc0FxYIyKfP4drQ7MEl2sHsoD14.jpg","name":"dc0FxYIyKfP4drQ7MEl2sHsoD14.jpg","width":3403,"height":1914,"mimeType":"image/jpeg","path":"one/empire-tmdb/films/401847/images"}}],"composed":{"heroImage":["5c69a62b86ae5f17944420d4"]}}],"published":{"state":"published","scheduledEnd":null,"wasPublished":true},"target":"international","isLegacy":true,"legacy":{"id":"5c4ed386fd0c0bc8444a3d0e","collection":"reviews_films","publication":"empire","furl":"can-ever-forgive","url":"movies/can-ever-forgive/review/","cms":"http://bantam.empireonline.com/edit.php?c=reviews_films.content&_id=5c4ed386fd0c0bc8444a3d0e","urlHistory":[],"createdAt":1548669830686},"toplistFeature":false,"hiddenArticle":false,"excerpt":"Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a small-scale delight. With her follow-up to the...","metaTitle":"","metaDescription":"Melissa McCarthy and Richard E Grant star in a biographical crime drama. Read the Empire review.","sourceText":null,"sourceUrl":null,"_layout":[{"content":"Can You Ever Forgive Me?","type":"title"},{"content":{"id":"5c6a303586ae5f1794463075","altText":"Can You Ever Forgive Me?","caption":"","credits":"","image":{"fileName":"can-you-ever-forgive-1.jpg","name":"can-you-ever-forgive-1.jpg","path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c4ed386fd0c0bc8444a3d0e","width":640,"height":480,"mimeType":"image/jpeg"}},"displayName":"Article Hero","free":true,"name":"hero","type":"heroImage"},{"content":"*[Can You Ever Forgive Me?](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/can-forgive/)* is a small-scale delight. With her follow-up to the excellent *[The Diary Of A Teenage Girl](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/diary-teenage-girl/review/)*, [Marielle Heller](https://www.empireonline.com/people/marielle-heller/) takes an unbelievable true story about an astonishing act of literary ventriloquism but makes it feel authentic through attention to detail, a deft handling of tone and huge empathy. It will undoubtedly get props for [Melissa McCarthy](https://www.empireonline.com/people/melissa-mccarthy/)’s terrific serious turn in the midst of a career dominated by broad comedy — she played dramatic in *[St. Vincent](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/st-vincent/review/)* — but has much more going for it than an actor’s transformation, chiefly a funny, poignant portrait of marginalised lives marinated in melancholy.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":{"id":"5c6a303586ae5f1794463076","image":{"path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c4ed386fd0c0bc8444a3d0e","fileName":"can-you-ever-forgive-2.jpg","name":"can-you-ever-forgive-2.jpg","width":"640","height":"480","mimeType":"image/jpeg"},"caption":"","altText":"Can You Ever Forgive Me?"},"displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"images"},{"content":"As Lee Israel, a miserable Manhattan biographer who resorted to forging letters by famous literary types (Noël Coward, Dorothy Parker, Lillian Hellman) to pay the bills, McCarthy makes a potentially curmudgeonly cat-woman stereotype complex and human. McCarthy has a ball being sour and sharp in equal measures — watch her pretend to be Nora Ephron on the phone because her agent won’t take her calls — yet also makes Lee’s loneliness moving. Lee draws sustenance from writing in other people’s voices, observing she is “a better Dorothy Parker than Dorothy Parker” and McCarthy perfectly etches her arc: she embraces Lee’s spikiness, creative uncertainty and self-destructive streak and somehow makes them winning.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":"Ultimately this is a film about human frailties.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"pullQuotes"},{"content":"As she begins her career of forgery, Lee finds salvation in [Richard E. Grant](https://www.empireonline.com/people/richard-e-grant/)’s Jack Hock (who announces himself as “Jack Hock, big cock”), a gay, dissolute New Yorker who helps her flog her letters when memorabilia dealers start to get suspicious. Channelling Withnail in a long coat and a love of booze, Grant is the best he’s been in years, by turns charming and tragic as he inveigles his way into Lee’s life. Together, the pair of outcasts form a winning double act, two people born out of time taking sideswipes at polite society while finding solace and co-dependency in each other’s company. Their first meeting is that rare thing in modern movies — a lengthy scene of two people chatting — and it’s a delight.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":{"url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqaZLjB_e6U","provider":"youtube"},"displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"embeds"},{"content":"Adapted from Israel’s own memoir, Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty’s witty, literate script is good on the compelling detail of Lee’s scams, buying numerous old typewriters to exactly match the fonts of the famous writers and upturning her battered old TV to use as a light box for easy tracing of signatures. Heller also ratchets up the tension, both in scenes of Lee smuggling letters out of archives and as the net draws in on her fakery. But ultimately this is a film about human frailties. Smuggled in between the friendship and the fakery is a tentative, beautifully rendered attraction between Lee and bookseller Anna (a terrific Dolly Wells) told in quick, economical strokes. A touching sketch of someone who doesn’t know how to be in a relationship, it becomes one of the most affecting love stories of the year.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"}],"heroImage":[{"id":"5c6a303586ae5f1794463075","altText":"Can You Ever Forgive Me?","caption":"","credits":"","image":{"fileName":"can-you-ever-forgive-1.jpg","name":"can-you-ever-forgive-1.jpg","path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c4ed386fd0c0bc8444a3d0e","width":640,"height":480,"mimeType":"image/jpeg"}}],"content":["*[Can You Ever Forgive Me?](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/can-forgive/)* is a small-scale delight. With her follow-up to the excellent *[The Diary Of A Teenage Girl](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/diary-teenage-girl/review/)*, [Marielle Heller](https://www.empireonline.com/people/marielle-heller/) takes an unbelievable true story about an astonishing act of literary ventriloquism but makes it feel authentic through attention to detail, a deft handling of tone and huge empathy. It will undoubtedly get props for [Melissa McCarthy](https://www.empireonline.com/people/melissa-mccarthy/)’s terrific serious turn in the midst of a career dominated by broad comedy — she played dramatic in *[St. Vincent](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/st-vincent/review/)* — but has much more going for it than an actor’s transformation, chiefly a funny, poignant portrait of marginalised lives marinated in melancholy.","As Lee Israel, a miserable Manhattan biographer who resorted to forging letters by famous literary types (Noël Coward, Dorothy Parker, Lillian Hellman) to pay the bills, McCarthy makes a potentially curmudgeonly cat-woman stereotype complex and human. McCarthy has a ball being sour and sharp in equal measures — watch her pretend to be Nora Ephron on the phone because her agent won’t take her calls — yet also makes Lee’s loneliness moving. Lee draws sustenance from writing in other people’s voices, observing she is “a better Dorothy Parker than Dorothy Parker” and McCarthy perfectly etches her arc: she embraces Lee’s spikiness, creative uncertainty and self-destructive streak and somehow makes them winning.","As she begins her career of forgery, Lee finds salvation in [Richard E. Grant](https://www.empireonline.com/people/richard-e-grant/)’s Jack Hock (who announces himself as “Jack Hock, big cock”), a gay, dissolute New Yorker who helps her flog her letters when memorabilia dealers start to get suspicious. Channelling Withnail in a long coat and a love of booze, Grant is the best he’s been in years, by turns charming and tragic as he inveigles his way into Lee’s life. Together, the pair of outcasts form a winning double act, two people born out of time taking sideswipes at polite society while finding solace and co-dependency in each other’s company. Their first meeting is that rare thing in modern movies — a lengthy scene of two people chatting — and it’s a delight.","Adapted from Israel’s own memoir, Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty’s witty, literate script is good on the compelling detail of Lee’s scams, buying numerous old typewriters to exactly match the fonts of the famous writers and upturning her battered old TV to use as a light box for easy tracing of signatures. Heller also ratchets up the tension, both in scenes of Lee smuggling letters out of archives and as the net draws in on her fakery. But ultimately this is a film about human frailties. Smuggled in between the friendship and the fakery is a tentative, beautifully rendered attraction between Lee and bookseller Anna (a terrific Dolly Wells) told in quick, economical strokes. A touching sketch of someone who doesn’t know how to be in a relationship, it becomes one of the most affecting love stories of the year."],"embeds":[{"url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqaZLjB_e6U","provider":"youtube"}],"images":[{"id":"5c6a303586ae5f1794463076","image":{"path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c4ed386fd0c0bc8444a3d0e","fileName":"can-you-ever-forgive-2.jpg","name":"can-you-ever-forgive-2.jpg","width":"640","height":"480","mimeType":"image/jpeg"},"caption":"","altText":"Can You Ever Forgive Me?"}],"imageGalleries":[],"pullQuotes":["Ultimately this is a film about human frailties."],"publicationDate":1548669600000,"author":{"id":"5a0ecfd9d7aa8e33ecab37c3","fullname":"Willow Green"},"author_custom":"Ian Freer","apiVersion":"1.0","createdAt":1548669830686,"createdBy":"testClient","v":1,"primaryPublication":{"id":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","preview":null,"name":"Empire","urlSlugHide":true,"furl":"empire","stationCode":"","language":"en","googleAnalyticsId":"","fbiaAudienceNetworkPlacement1":"","hostname":{"id":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5","primary":"https://stg.empireonline.com"},"composed":{"hostname":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5"}},"urls":["empire/movies/reviews/can-ever-forgive/"],"composed":{"heroImage":["5c6a303586ae5f1794463075"],"author":"5a0ecfd9d7aa8e33ecab37c3","images":["5c6a303586ae5f1794463076"],"imageGalleries":[],"publications":["5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74"],"categories":["5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f8"],"primaryPublication":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","film":["5c69a62b86ae5f17944420d5"]}},{"id":"5c6a303486ae5f1794463074","title":"The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part","subtitle":null,"furl":"lego-movie-2-second-part","urlOverride":"lego-movie-2-second-part","publications":[{"id":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","amp":null,"preview":null,"name":"Empire","urlSlugHide":true,"furl":"empire","stationCode":"","language":"en","hostname":{"id":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5","primary":"https://stg.empireonline.com"},"composed":{"hostname":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5"}}],"primarySyndicatePosition":0,"categories":[{"id":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f8","name":"Reviews","furl":"reviews","parent":{"id":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f5","name":"Movies","furl":"movies"},"composed":{"parent":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f5"}}],"pageTemplate":"review","nutshell":"The Duplo aliens have left Bricksburg a wasteland. When General Mayhem (Beatriz) and Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi (Haddish) kidnap the residents, Emmet (Pratt) and new friend Rex Dangervest (also Pratt) have to save the day.","verdict":"Fuelled by adrenaline, sugar and plastic, The Lego Movie’s Second Part does not entirely reinvent the brick from the First Part. But when the formula is this clever and fun, should we even care?","rating":"4","film":[{"id":"5c69a62c86ae5f179444213a","furl":"lego-movie-2-second-part","title":"The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part","website":"","heroImage":[{"id":"5c69a62c86ae5f1794442139","altText":"The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part","caption":"The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part","credits":"TMDB","image":{"fileName":"nLvDo1F9xQD4VdFNgtipti7lKYD.jpg","name":"nLvDo1F9xQD4VdFNgtipti7lKYD.jpg","width":1920,"height":1080,"mimeType":"image/jpeg","path":"one/empire-tmdb/films/280217/images"}}],"composed":{"heroImage":["5c69a62c86ae5f1794442139"]}}],"published":{"state":"published","scheduledEnd":null,"wasPublished":true},"target":"international","isLegacy":true,"legacy":{"id":"5c4b6031fd0c0bc8444a2be9","collection":"reviews_films","publication":"empire","furl":"lego-movie-2-second-part","url":"movies/lego-movie-2-second-part/review/","cms":"http://bantam.empireonline.com/edit.php?c=reviews_films.content&_id=5c4b6031fd0c0bc8444a2be9","urlHistory":[],"createdAt":1548443697893},"toplistFeature":false,"hiddenArticle":false,"excerpt":"For a brief time in 2014, you couldn’t throw a plastic brick without it...","metaTitle":"","metaDescription":"Read Empire's Review of The Lego Movie 2.","sourceText":null,"sourceUrl":null,"_layout":[{"content":"The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part","type":"title"},{"content":{"id":"5c6a303486ae5f1794463071","altText":"The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part","caption":"","credits":"","image":{"fileName":"lego-movie-2-main.jpg","name":"lego-movie-2-main.jpg","path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c4b6031fd0c0bc8444a2be9","width":640,"height":480,"mimeType":"image/jpeg"}},"displayName":"Article Hero","free":true,"name":"hero","type":"heroImage"},{"content":"For a brief time in 2014, you couldn’t throw a plastic brick without it landing on someone singing ‘Everything Is Awesome’, the absurdly catchy song at the centrepiece of *The Lego Movie*. Sugary and energetic but also witty and ironic, it whittled all of the achievements of that expectation-defying movie down to two minutes and 43 seconds of earwormy joy. Fitting, then, that *The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part* has its own catchy song, and that that song should be called ‘Catchy Song’, with the recurring lyric: “This song’s gonna get stuck inside your head.”","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":{"id":"5c6a303486ae5f1794463072","image":{"path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c4b6031fd0c0bc8444a2be9","fileName":"kkNucphHuz4lCRhGcMHi44hSdgL.jpg","name":"kkNucphHuz4lCRhGcMHi44hSdgL.jpg","width":"640","height":"480","mimeType":"image/jpeg"},"caption":"The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part","altText":"The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part","credits":"TMDB films 280217"},"displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"images"},{"content":"That’s pretty indicative of this hugely fun sequel, which provides a similar offering to the first film. But if you’re going to repeat yourself, you might as well repeat yourself on a giddy, subversive, hilarious treat. This is the unofficial house style laid down by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the excellent team whose sharp talents yielded *Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs*, *21 Jump Street*, and the award-winning *Into The Spider-Verse*.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":"Some of the wildest, most surreal jokes you’ll find in any movie.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"pullQuotes"},{"content":"The duo are only writers/producers here, but their fingerprints are all over it. Unlike other animation studios, which largely feel beholden to mass-market family appeal, the Lord/Miller school favours a decent proportion of ideas, plot contrivances and comedy that only grown-ups would understand. So there are gags about future Batman movies in “various stages of development”, a knowing prod at the lead actor’s billion-dollar side career, and even a self-deprecating acknowledgement that the first film could have treated its female characters better.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":"The plot itself is relatively slight, again concerning evil outsiders threatening the Lego homeland, with the same motley band of figurines now fighting the Duplo toys and the mysterious Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi (Haddish). Everything remains under the meta-textual guise of a real-world Lego set, existing largely in the imaginations of the humans playing with it; this time, it’s the children achieving actualisation and realisation through toys.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":{"id":"5c6a303486ae5f1794463073","image":{"path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c4b6031fd0c0bc8444a2be9","fileName":"nLvDo1F9xQD4VdFNgtipti7lKYD.jpg","name":"nLvDo1F9xQD4VdFNgtipti7lKYD.jpg","width":"640","height":"480","mimeType":"image/jpeg"},"caption":"The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part"},"displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"images"},{"content":"That’s not really the main appeal, though. The ham-fisted lessons and wacky adventuring are just a skeleton on which to hang the meat of the thing: gorgeous, stunningly realised animation; frequent self-referential shrewdness; and still some of the wildest, most surreal jokes you’ll find in any movie. Which other film can give you skateboarding dinosaurs, a DJing vampire, a ring-bearing banana, an emotionally unstable ice cream cone, three different Wonder Women, and the most unexpected cameo from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg you’re likely to see this year?","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"}],"heroImage":[{"id":"5c6a303486ae5f1794463071","altText":"The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part","caption":"","credits":"","image":{"fileName":"lego-movie-2-main.jpg","name":"lego-movie-2-main.jpg","path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c4b6031fd0c0bc8444a2be9","width":640,"height":480,"mimeType":"image/jpeg"}}],"content":["For a brief time in 2014, you couldn’t throw a plastic brick without it landing on someone singing ‘Everything Is Awesome’, the absurdly catchy song at the centrepiece of *The Lego Movie*. Sugary and energetic but also witty and ironic, it whittled all of the achievements of that expectation-defying movie down to two minutes and 43 seconds of earwormy joy. Fitting, then, that *The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part* has its own catchy song, and that that song should be called ‘Catchy Song’, with the recurring lyric: “This song’s gonna get stuck inside your head.”","That’s pretty indicative of this hugely fun sequel, which provides a similar offering to the first film. But if you’re going to repeat yourself, you might as well repeat yourself on a giddy, subversive, hilarious treat. This is the unofficial house style laid down by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the excellent team whose sharp talents yielded *Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs*, *21 Jump Street*, and the award-winning *Into The Spider-Verse*.","The duo are only writers/producers here, but their fingerprints are all over it. Unlike other animation studios, which largely feel beholden to mass-market family appeal, the Lord/Miller school favours a decent proportion of ideas, plot contrivances and comedy that only grown-ups would understand. So there are gags about future Batman movies in “various stages of development”, a knowing prod at the lead actor’s billion-dollar side career, and even a self-deprecating acknowledgement that the first film could have treated its female characters better.","The plot itself is relatively slight, again concerning evil outsiders threatening the Lego homeland, with the same motley band of figurines now fighting the Duplo toys and the mysterious Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi (Haddish). Everything remains under the meta-textual guise of a real-world Lego set, existing largely in the imaginations of the humans playing with it; this time, it’s the children achieving actualisation and realisation through toys.","That’s not really the main appeal, though. The ham-fisted lessons and wacky adventuring are just a skeleton on which to hang the meat of the thing: gorgeous, stunningly realised animation; frequent self-referential shrewdness; and still some of the wildest, most surreal jokes you’ll find in any movie. Which other film can give you skateboarding dinosaurs, a DJing vampire, a ring-bearing banana, an emotionally unstable ice cream cone, three different Wonder Women, and the most unexpected cameo from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg you’re likely to see this year?"],"embeds":[],"images":[{"id":"5c6a303486ae5f1794463072","image":{"path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c4b6031fd0c0bc8444a2be9","fileName":"kkNucphHuz4lCRhGcMHi44hSdgL.jpg","name":"kkNucphHuz4lCRhGcMHi44hSdgL.jpg","width":"640","height":"480","mimeType":"image/jpeg"},"caption":"The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part","altText":"The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part","credits":"TMDB films 280217"},{"id":"5c6a303486ae5f1794463073","image":{"path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c4b6031fd0c0bc8444a2be9","fileName":"nLvDo1F9xQD4VdFNgtipti7lKYD.jpg","name":"nLvDo1F9xQD4VdFNgtipti7lKYD.jpg","width":"640","height":"480","mimeType":"image/jpeg"},"caption":"The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part"}],"imageGalleries":[],"pullQuotes":["Some of the wildest, most surreal jokes you’ll find in any movie."],"publicationDate":1548540000000,"author":{"id":"5c69a3b986ae5f179442c7be","fullname":"John Nugent","furl":"john-nugent"},"apiVersion":"1.0","createdAt":1548443697893,"createdBy":"testClient","v":1,"primaryPublication":{"id":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","preview":null,"name":"Empire","urlSlugHide":true,"furl":"empire","stationCode":"","language":"en","googleAnalyticsId":"","fbiaAudienceNetworkPlacement1":"","hostname":{"id":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5","primary":"https://stg.empireonline.com"},"composed":{"hostname":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5"}},"urls":["empire/movies/reviews/lego-movie-2-second-part/"],"composed":{"heroImage":["5c6a303486ae5f1794463071"],"author":"5c69a3b986ae5f179442c7be","images":["5c6a303486ae5f1794463072","5c6a303486ae5f1794463073"],"imageGalleries":[],"publications":["5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74"],"categories":["5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f8"],"primaryPublication":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","film":["5c69a62c86ae5f179444213a"]}},{"id":"5c6a303486ae5f1794463070","title":"Love Sonia","subtitle":null,"furl":"love-sonia","urlOverride":"love-sonia","publications":[{"id":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","amp":null,"preview":null,"name":"Empire","urlSlugHide":true,"furl":"empire","stationCode":"","language":"en","hostname":{"id":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5","primary":"https://stg.empireonline.com"},"composed":{"hostname":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5"}}],"primarySyndicatePosition":0,"categories":[{"id":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f8","name":"Reviews","furl":"reviews","parent":{"id":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f5","name":"Movies","furl":"movies"},"composed":{"parent":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f5"}}],"pageTemplate":"review","nutshell":"Sonia (Mrunal Thakur) and Preeti (Riya Sisodiya) are the two adolescent daughters of a debt-ridden farmer in the Indian countryside. Unable to see an alternative route out of the family’s poverty, he sells Preeti to local thugs. Devastated, Sonia follows her to Mumbai to rescue her, soon also becoming embroiled in the horrific world of sex trafficking.","verdict":"An excoriating, urgent look at the sordid world of global sex trafficking, anchored by a head-turning performance from newcomer Mrunal Thakur.","rating":"4","film":[{"id":"5c69a63186ae5f17944422d9","furl":"love-sonia","title":"Love Sonia","website":"","heroImage":[{"id":"5c69a63186ae5f17944422d8","altText":"Love Sonia","caption":"Love Sonia","credits":"TMDB","image":{"fileName":"ziKGqKxnWLVIJhYP1j2Ius9ppPm.jpg","name":"ziKGqKxnWLVIJhYP1j2Ius9ppPm.jpg","width":1604,"height":900,"mimeType":"image/jpeg","path":"one/empire-tmdb/films/444000/images"}}],"composed":{"heroImage":["5c69a63186ae5f17944422d8"]}}],"published":{"state":"published","scheduledEnd":null,"wasPublished":true},"target":"international","isLegacy":true,"legacy":{"id":"5c4b0745fd0c0bc8444a0d81","collection":"reviews_films","publication":"empire","furl":"love-sonia","url":"movies/love-sonia/review/","cms":"http://bantam.empireonline.com/edit.php?c=reviews_films.content&_id=5c4b0745fd0c0bc8444a0d81","urlHistory":[],"createdAt":1548420933450},"toplistFeature":false,"hiddenArticle":false,"excerpt":"The debut feature of Slumdog Millionaire line producer Tabrez Noorani, Love...","metaTitle":"","metaDescription":"Tabrez Noorani presents an unflinching look at the global sex trade. Read the Empire review.","sourceText":null,"sourceUrl":null,"_layout":[{"content":"Love Sonia","type":"title"},{"content":{"id":"5c6a303386ae5f179446306e","altText":"Love Sonia","caption":"","credits":"","image":{"fileName":"love-sonia-1.jpg","name":"love-sonia-1.jpg","path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c4b0745fd0c0bc8444a0d81","width":640,"height":480,"mimeType":"image/jpeg"}},"displayName":"Article Hero","free":true,"name":"hero","type":"heroImage"},{"content":"The debut feature of *[Slumdog Millionaire](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/slumdog-millionaire/review/)* line producer Tabrez Noorani, *Love Sonia* presents a far darker picture of the brutal effects of severe poverty in modern India. A brutal exploration of the barbaric sex trafficking trade, Noorani’s film makes it shamefully plain that this is far from a localised phenomenon towards which Westerners can turn a blind eye — it’s a global outrage destroying myriad lives to this day.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":"The youngest child of a farmer (Adil Hussain) scrabbling for survival on the arid earth of his remote village, Sonia — an exceptional Mrunal Thakur, now 26 but playing a role more than ten years younger — is presented as a lively, popular schoolgirl, dreaming with her beloved sister Preeti (Sisodiya) of Bollywood fame, and making tentative first steps into romance with local lad Amar (*[Lion](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/lion/review/)*’s Abhishek Bharate). Her world comes crashing down, however, when her father, seemingly at breaking point, gives Preeti to local criminals in an attempt to settle crushing debts. They swiftly transport her to Mumbai, and the grimy, violent underworld of its thriving sex industry.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":{"id":"5c6a303386ae5f179446306f","image":{"path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c4b0745fd0c0bc8444a0d81","fileName":"love-sonia-2.jpg","name":"love-sonia-2.jpg","width":"640","height":"480","mimeType":"image/jpeg"},"caption":"","altText":"Love Sonia"},"displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"images"},{"content":"Hellbent on rescuing Preeti, Sonia is soon also trapped in this torrid world, and Noorani pulls absolutely no punches in depicting every brutal detail of an inhumane, if all too human, trade. Although at times the unrelenting horrors of the brothel threaten to overwhelm and numb, Noorani’s unflinching gaze nonetheless allows for nuance; a pimp who poses as protector and plays favourites; a hardened prostitute who, far from shielding the new girl, delights in cruel torment.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":"An angry cry that's impossible to ignore.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"pullQuotes"},{"content":"Riven with disease, and craving scraps of true affection, these exploited women are depicted as broken and listlessly bitter, made cruel by fear at the hands of men beyond redemption. Nonetheless their individuality still glimmers, not least in Rashmi (*Slumdog*’s [Freida Pinto](https://www.empireonline.com/people/freida-pinto/) shining in a supporting role), who pesters to be Sonia’s surrogate sister and shoulders the burden of her own tragic backstory. It’s a miserable, depressing, shocking scene, and seemingly hopeless — “Everyone is part of this,” observes a crusading activist flatly as the local police thwart his attempts to stage a rescue.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":"And indeed, everyone is, as the film’s third act pointedly illustrates. Transported from Mumbai’s fume-clogged streets to Los Angeles’ equally smog-ridden palaces — not by first-class plane ticket but pitch-dark shipping container via Hong Kong — Sonia, Rashmi and their fellow sex workers find themselves in the rarefied atmosphere of Hollywood’s glossiest parties, yet still paid-for property, as trapped as they ever were, however many smartphones and gifts are proffered. Noorani — driven by his own work with non-government agencies to liberate trafficked women and girls — has a clear message to relay.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":{"url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhTTF13Fhug","provider":"youtube"},"displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"embeds"},{"content":"Perhaps inevitably, however, after the unspeakable misery of the Mumbai brothel, it’s hard not to relax a little as the wide, open streets and waving palms of LA cross the screen — and perhaps too neatly it’s the City Of Angels that does ultimately offer respite for its women in the form of rehabilitation and hope (hello [Demi Moore](https://www.empireonline.com/people/demi-moore/), cameoing as activist/counsellor Selma). Yet, the Western world is by no means off the hook. Anchored by excellent performances throughout and an admirable candour, Noorani’s angry cry is one impossible to ignore.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"}],"heroImage":[{"id":"5c6a303386ae5f179446306e","altText":"Love Sonia","caption":"","credits":"","image":{"fileName":"love-sonia-1.jpg","name":"love-sonia-1.jpg","path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c4b0745fd0c0bc8444a0d81","width":640,"height":480,"mimeType":"image/jpeg"}}],"content":["The debut feature of *[Slumdog Millionaire](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/slumdog-millionaire/review/)* line producer Tabrez Noorani, *Love Sonia* presents a far darker picture of the brutal effects of severe poverty in modern India. A brutal exploration of the barbaric sex trafficking trade, Noorani’s film makes it shamefully plain that this is far from a localised phenomenon towards which Westerners can turn a blind eye — it’s a global outrage destroying myriad lives to this day.","The youngest child of a farmer (Adil Hussain) scrabbling for survival on the arid earth of his remote village, Sonia — an exceptional Mrunal Thakur, now 26 but playing a role more than ten years younger — is presented as a lively, popular schoolgirl, dreaming with her beloved sister Preeti (Sisodiya) of Bollywood fame, and making tentative first steps into romance with local lad Amar (*[Lion](https://www.empireonline.com/movies/lion/review/)*’s Abhishek Bharate). Her world comes crashing down, however, when her father, seemingly at breaking point, gives Preeti to local criminals in an attempt to settle crushing debts. They swiftly transport her to Mumbai, and the grimy, violent underworld of its thriving sex industry.","Hellbent on rescuing Preeti, Sonia is soon also trapped in this torrid world, and Noorani pulls absolutely no punches in depicting every brutal detail of an inhumane, if all too human, trade. Although at times the unrelenting horrors of the brothel threaten to overwhelm and numb, Noorani’s unflinching gaze nonetheless allows for nuance; a pimp who poses as protector and plays favourites; a hardened prostitute who, far from shielding the new girl, delights in cruel torment.","Riven with disease, and craving scraps of true affection, these exploited women are depicted as broken and listlessly bitter, made cruel by fear at the hands of men beyond redemption. Nonetheless their individuality still glimmers, not least in Rashmi (*Slumdog*’s [Freida Pinto](https://www.empireonline.com/people/freida-pinto/) shining in a supporting role), who pesters to be Sonia’s surrogate sister and shoulders the burden of her own tragic backstory. It’s a miserable, depressing, shocking scene, and seemingly hopeless — “Everyone is part of this,” observes a crusading activist flatly as the local police thwart his attempts to stage a rescue.","And indeed, everyone is, as the film’s third act pointedly illustrates. Transported from Mumbai’s fume-clogged streets to Los Angeles’ equally smog-ridden palaces — not by first-class plane ticket but pitch-dark shipping container via Hong Kong — Sonia, Rashmi and their fellow sex workers find themselves in the rarefied atmosphere of Hollywood’s glossiest parties, yet still paid-for property, as trapped as they ever were, however many smartphones and gifts are proffered. Noorani — driven by his own work with non-government agencies to liberate trafficked women and girls — has a clear message to relay.","Perhaps inevitably, however, after the unspeakable misery of the Mumbai brothel, it’s hard not to relax a little as the wide, open streets and waving palms of LA cross the screen — and perhaps too neatly it’s the City Of Angels that does ultimately offer respite for its women in the form of rehabilitation and hope (hello [Demi Moore](https://www.empireonline.com/people/demi-moore/), cameoing as activist/counsellor Selma). Yet, the Western world is by no means off the hook. Anchored by excellent performances throughout and an admirable candour, Noorani’s angry cry is one impossible to ignore."],"embeds":[{"url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhTTF13Fhug","provider":"youtube"}],"images":[{"id":"5c6a303386ae5f179446306f","image":{"path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c4b0745fd0c0bc8444a0d81","fileName":"love-sonia-2.jpg","name":"love-sonia-2.jpg","width":"640","height":"480","mimeType":"image/jpeg"},"caption":"","altText":"Love Sonia"}],"imageGalleries":[],"pullQuotes":["An angry cry that's impossible to ignore."],"publicationDate":1548420720000,"author":{"id":"5c6a197086ae5f179445e00b","fullname":"Liz Beardsworth","furl":"liz-beardsworth"},"apiVersion":"1.0","createdAt":1548420933450,"createdBy":"testClient","v":1,"primaryPublication":{"id":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","preview":null,"name":"Empire","urlSlugHide":true,"furl":"empire","stationCode":"","language":"en","googleAnalyticsId":"","fbiaAudienceNetworkPlacement1":"","hostname":{"id":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5","primary":"https://stg.empireonline.com"},"composed":{"hostname":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5"}},"urls":["empire/movies/reviews/love-sonia/"],"composed":{"heroImage":["5c6a303386ae5f179446306e"],"author":"5c6a197086ae5f179445e00b","images":["5c6a303386ae5f179446306f"],"imageGalleries":[],"publications":["5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74"],"categories":["5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f8"],"primaryPublication":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","film":["5c69a63186ae5f17944422d9"]}},{"id":"5c6a303386ae5f179446306d","title":"Bergman: A Year In A Life","subtitle":null,"furl":"bergman-year-life","urlOverride":"bergman-year-life","publications":[{"id":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","amp":null,"preview":null,"name":"Empire","urlSlugHide":true,"furl":"empire","stationCode":"","language":"en","hostname":{"id":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5","primary":"https://stg.empireonline.com"},"composed":{"hostname":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5"}}],"primarySyndicatePosition":0,"categories":[{"id":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f8","name":"Reviews","furl":"reviews","parent":{"id":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f5","name":"Movies","furl":"movies"},"composed":{"parent":"5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f5"}}],"pageTemplate":"review","nutshell":"In 1957, Swedish director Ingmar Bergman acquired international fame after premiering The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries. He also produced two more films and four landmark stage plays. But, for all its artistic merit, Bergman's work was also his refuge away from his health problems and complex private life.","verdict":"Regardless of the skittish structure and illegible subtitles, this is a valuable reflection on an incalculably influential career, which serves as a timely reminder about the pitfalls of artistic tyranny. ","rating":"3","film":[{"id":"5c69a63186ae5f17944422d7","furl":"bergman-year-life","title":"Bergman: A Year In A Life","website":"","heroImage":[{"id":"5c69a63186ae5f17944422d6","altText":"Bergman: A Year In A Life","caption":"Bergman: A Year In A Life","credits":"TMDB","image":{"fileName":"yfMOgFjvqE0tkbkQYUpJ4HQ3UBy.jpg","name":"yfMOgFjvqE0tkbkQYUpJ4HQ3UBy.jpg","width":2640,"height":1485,"mimeType":"image/jpeg","path":"one/empire-tmdb/films/522868/images"}}],"composed":{"heroImage":["5c69a63186ae5f17944422d6"]}}],"published":{"state":"published","scheduledEnd":null,"wasPublished":true},"target":"international","isLegacy":true,"legacy":{"id":"5c49f372fd0c0bc8444a068d","collection":"reviews_films","publication":"empire","furl":"bergman-year-life","url":"movies/bergman-year-life/review/","cms":"http://bantam.empireonline.com/edit.php?c=reviews_films.content&_id=5c49f372fd0c0bc8444a068d","urlHistory":[],"createdAt":1548350322599},"toplistFeature":false,"hiddenArticle":false,"excerpt":"One of two documentaries produced to mark Ingmar Bergman's centenary, along...","metaTitle":"","metaDescription":"Director Jane Magnusson reflects on a year in Ingmar Bergman's life. Read the Empire review.","sourceText":null,"sourceUrl":null,"_layout":[{"content":"Bergman: A Year In A Life","type":"title"},{"content":{"id":"5c6a303386ae5f179446306c","altText":"Bergman: A Year In A Life","caption":"","credits":"","image":{"fileName":"bergman-a-year.jpg","name":"bergman-a-year.jpg","path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c49f372fd0c0bc8444a068d","width":640,"height":480,"mimeType":"image/jpeg"}},"displayName":"Article Hero","free":true,"name":"hero","type":"heroImage"},{"content":"One of two documentaries produced to mark [Ingmar Bergman](https://www.empireonline.com/people/ingmar-bergman/)'s centenary, along with Margarethe von Trotta's *Searching For Ingmar Bergman*, this ambitious insight into a pivotal year in the life of the peerless Swedish auteur follows TV journalist Jane Magnusson's earlier *Trespassing Bergman*, in which she had invited the likes of [Woody Allen](https://www.empireonline.com/people/woody-allen/) and [Martin Scorsese](https://www.empireonline.com/people/martin-scorsese/) to Bergman's island retreat on Fårö to assess his titanic achievement. However, 1957 proves to be a springboard rather than a locus, as Magnusson and her 40-odd talking heads criss-cross Bergman's extraordinary life in film, theatre and television to reveal a workaholic whose myriad contradictions make him simultaneously fascinating and reprehensible.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":"Sometimes sweeping and scattershot, but always clear-sighted, Magnusson's dissection of Bergman's psyche is hardly revelatory. But she makes effective use of archive clips to expose him as a serial mythologiser who came closest to telling the truth about himself in his films. A suppressed interview with his brother Dag contradicts Bergman's oft-repeated account of childhood beatings, while fresh light is shed upon his unreliable recollections about his pro-Nazi sympathies and the abusive relationship with lovers and wives like Karin Lannby and Gun Grut that add belated fuel to the #MeToo fire.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"},{"content":{"url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tM-eDzMSJHk","provider":"youtube"},"displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"embeds"},{"content":"Frequent collaborator Liv Ullmann tearfully insists that Bergman was a decent fellow off the set. Yet, it seems that his demons were crucial to his creativity, and 1957 appears to have been the year in which the 39-year-old realised he could only analyse the human condition with any acuity if he became his own primary source of inspiration. But, having raised the connection between an artist's vision and their morality, Magnusson avoids reaching any definitive conclusions. Moreover, she dwells so long on Bergman's travails that she leaves no room for any critical assessment of his recurring themes and changing style.","displayName":"Body","free":true,"name":"body","type":"content"}],"heroImage":[{"id":"5c6a303386ae5f179446306c","altText":"Bergman: A Year In A Life","caption":"","credits":"","image":{"fileName":"bergman-a-year.jpg","name":"bergman-a-year.jpg","path":"one/empire-images/reviews_films/5c49f372fd0c0bc8444a068d","width":640,"height":480,"mimeType":"image/jpeg"}}],"content":["One of two documentaries produced to mark [Ingmar Bergman](https://www.empireonline.com/people/ingmar-bergman/)'s centenary, along with Margarethe von Trotta's *Searching For Ingmar Bergman*, this ambitious insight into a pivotal year in the life of the peerless Swedish auteur follows TV journalist Jane Magnusson's earlier *Trespassing Bergman*, in which she had invited the likes of [Woody Allen](https://www.empireonline.com/people/woody-allen/) and [Martin Scorsese](https://www.empireonline.com/people/martin-scorsese/) to Bergman's island retreat on Fårö to assess his titanic achievement. However, 1957 proves to be a springboard rather than a locus, as Magnusson and her 40-odd talking heads criss-cross Bergman's extraordinary life in film, theatre and television to reveal a workaholic whose myriad contradictions make him simultaneously fascinating and reprehensible.","Sometimes sweeping and scattershot, but always clear-sighted, Magnusson's dissection of Bergman's psyche is hardly revelatory. But she makes effective use of archive clips to expose him as a serial mythologiser who came closest to telling the truth about himself in his films. A suppressed interview with his brother Dag contradicts Bergman's oft-repeated account of childhood beatings, while fresh light is shed upon his unreliable recollections about his pro-Nazi sympathies and the abusive relationship with lovers and wives like Karin Lannby and Gun Grut that add belated fuel to the #MeToo fire.","Frequent collaborator Liv Ullmann tearfully insists that Bergman was a decent fellow off the set. Yet, it seems that his demons were crucial to his creativity, and 1957 appears to have been the year in which the 39-year-old realised he could only analyse the human condition with any acuity if he became his own primary source of inspiration. But, having raised the connection between an artist's vision and their morality, Magnusson avoids reaching any definitive conclusions. Moreover, she dwells so long on Bergman's travails that she leaves no room for any critical assessment of his recurring themes and changing style."],"embeds":[{"url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tM-eDzMSJHk","provider":"youtube"}],"images":[],"imageGalleries":[],"pullQuotes":[],"publicationDate":1548350100000,"author":{"id":"5a0ecfd9d7aa8e33ecab37c3","fullname":"Willow Green"},"author_custom":"David Parkinson","apiVersion":"1.0","createdAt":1548350322599,"createdBy":"testClient","v":1,"primaryPublication":{"id":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","preview":null,"name":"Empire","urlSlugHide":true,"furl":"empire","stationCode":"","language":"en","googleAnalyticsId":"","fbiaAudienceNetworkPlacement1":"","hostname":{"id":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5","primary":"https://stg.empireonline.com"},"composed":{"hostname":"59e4c911f9648a12d2ed73f5"}},"urls":["empire/movies/reviews/bergman-year-life/"],"composed":{"heroImage":["5c6a303386ae5f179446306c"],"author":"5a0ecfd9d7aa8e33ecab37c3","images":[],"imageGalleries":[],"publications":["5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74"],"categories":["5c69a3b786ae5f179442c6f8"],"primaryPublication":"5b5ef0e371fda32230981b74","film":["5c69a63186ae5f17944422d7"]}}]