The latest attempt to cinematise Marvel’s dysfunctional superhero family, Fantastic Four is a frustrating shambles, bogged down by a strained narrative and laughable, exposition-heavy dialogue. An inter-dimensional vault leaves four young upstarts – Reed (Miles Teller), Sue (Kate Mara), Johnny (Michael B. Jordan) and Ben (Jamie Bell) – reshaped with superhuman abilities. Their only hope of recovery is back the way they came from, putting them in direct contact with an old friend. Continue reading “Review: Fantastic Four (2015)”
In his sophomore feature as director, Damien Chazelle delivers Whiplash, an extraordinary musical thriller that electrifies and startles in equal measure. Andrew (Miles Teller), a fledgling drummer, is chosen to be part of his school’s concert band by its conductor Fletcher (JK Simmons), whose ferocious teaching methods pushes and pulls him to breaking point. Ripped from Chazelle’s own experiences, Whiplash unspools with an exceptional and unyielding menace, as Fletcher browbeats Andrew to a terrified shell, forcing him to sweat, distress and spill literal blood. Continue reading “Review: Whiplash (2015)”
A rom-com presented from the point of view of three callow, commitment-phobe serial daters, That Awkward Moment has oodles of potential, not least thanks to the combined talents of its up-and-coming cast. Yet the fact that the film is unable to mine any insight or meaning from its slapdash, cliché-ridden and relatively unfunny screenplay renders this an experiment that’s watchable, yet blatantly unremarkable. Continue reading “Review: That Awkward Moment (2014)”
Becca (Nicole Kidman) and Howie Corbett (Aaron Eckhart) are a happily married couple whose perfect world is forever changed when their young son, Danny (Phoenix List), is killed by a car.
Becca tries to redefine her existence in a surreal landscape of well-meaning family and friends. Her experiences lead her to find solace in a mysterious relationship with a troubled young comic-book artist, Jason (Miles Teller) – the teenage driver of the car that killed Danny.
Becca’s fixation with Jason pulls her away from memories of Danny, while Howie immerses himself in the past, seeking refuge in outsiders who offer him sympathy and condolences. The couple, both adrift, make disconcerting and hazardous choices as they find ways to cope with their loss.
Rabbit Hole, based on a stage play by David Lindsay-Abaire’s, is a piercing portrait of a couple struggling to cope with the death of their son. Lindsay-Abaire, who also wrote the screenplay, provides an surprisingly funny, intensely honest insight into how grief can affect people and force them in opposing directions.
The writing style is sly and witty – sometimes crushing, sometimes downright nasty – cleverly punctuating the overriding sense of despair, which, in tell, provides hope to the couple and their future.
John Cameron Mitchell’s direction is nuanced and fraught, encapsulating the grief with a certain level of restraint that manages to keep us far enough out-with the emotional core of the film, so not to become too troubled by the distressed subject-matter.
The emotional outbursts are as accustomed as they are agonising, accentuated perfectly by Kidman and Eckhart’s, whose raw performances never lets the material slip into the melodrama.
The performances from the entire cast are irreproachable. Kidman’s Becca is fragile and antsy, abandoned by her friends and former colleagues she lashes out at her family’s clumsy efforts to help. It’s clear that there is no way of curing the feeling of grief that’s become central to her being, when everyday life and occurrences become harrowing remembrances.
Eckhart’s Howie, on the other hand, is a less intricate but no less integral character, one that naturally exudes warmth and affection. He’s the devoted husband – and former father – who eats, sleeps and breathes his family. Even after all they’ve been through, he still has the desire, and strength, to fight to save his broken marriage.
Rabbit Hole is an impressively crafted, highly emotive and competent piece of cinema, bolstered by stand-out performances from Kidman and Eckhart.