Film Diary: January 2018

The month kicked off as any year usually does, with a handful of potential Oscar nominees finally hitting UK cinemas after their festival debuts the year before. Darkest Hour featured a blistering performance from Gary Oldman, though little else. Joe Wright’s drama about Churchill in the lead up to Dunkirk rested on the talents of its lead, who mostly kept things afloat even when the script faltered. As someone who disliked Pan, but loved Atonement, I’m also searching for a Wright film to match up to that. This isn’t it, though it can still be admired for what it is. Continue reading “Film Diary: January 2018”

Review: Say When (2014)

Say WhenSay When (titled Laggies in America) is perhaps Lynn Shelton’s most commercial film to date – a quarter life crisis comedy that’s charming, even in spite of its prosaic script. Keira Knightley stars as Megan, an undirected 20-something who balks at her long-term boyfriend’s marriage proposal. In need of a temporary respite, she takes Annika (Chloë Grace Moretz) – a 16-year-old whom she bonds with – up on her offer of shelter. Continue reading “Review: Say When (2014)”

Review: The Way Way Back (2013)

The Way Way Back

There’s nothing more re-done than a coming-of-age comedy. Yet The Way Way Back, like Little Miss Sunshine and Ruby Sparks before it, is one of the rare ones that, despite treading familiar territory (it can’t help but feel like a younger version of Adventureland, particularly in relation to its amusement park setting), boasts such a tender, acute script and well-rounded characters that it’s impossible not to succumb to its charms and harsh-but-true honesty. Continue reading “Review: The Way Way Back (2013)”

Review: Conviction (2010)

Based on a true story, Conviction tells the story of a working mother, Betty Ann Waters (Hilary Swank), who puts herself through law school in an effort to represent her brother, Kenny Waters (Sam Rockwell), who has been wrongfully convicted of murder and has exhausted his chances to appeal his conviction through public defenders.

Tony Goldwyn’s direction, while pleasing and sometimes well dramatised, often feels awkward, tiresome and disengaging, struggling to bring out the emotion and capture the inspirational message in an engaging manner, mainly due to the haphazard execution of the films structure, which mostly eradicates the possibility of emotional investment.

It would be easy, therefore, to cast off Conviction as a TV film trying, yet failing, to be something more, but that would be an injustice to the fantastic performances on show from more or less every actor involved..

Hilary Swank delivers a typically veracious, if less than stellar, turn as Betty Anne, while Sam Rockwell inhabits the role of Kenny with an extraordinary level of depth and naturalism, unavoidably making you trust him and believe his innocence.

Minnie Driver injects much-needed humour and likeability into the film as swank’s loyal compadre, and Juliette Lewis, despite only appearing in two scenes, completely envelops her character, giving a breathtaking performance as a wasted tramp whose also a key witness for the prosecution.

Conviction is ultimately an okay, yet disappointedly constructed, tale of retribution, elevated by several terrific performances.