FILM | REVIEWS
DRAMA SORRY WE MISSED YOU (15) 101min ●●●●●
The casualties of Broken Britain continue to inspire heartfelt human drama from director Ken Loach and his screenwriting partner Paul Laverty. Sorry We Missed You is a cry of anguish for those in the grip of an economy blighted by zero hours contracts and the illusion of opportunity.
Ricky (Kris Hitchen) is a proud grafter who will do anything to provide for his family. He is persuaded that there is a good living to be made as a white van man. A freelance status will put him in control of his destiny. He supplies his own van and faces stiff penalties for any infringement of strict rules. Rarely can the offer of freedom have sounded so much like enslavement. The thousand-pound deposit for the van is found by selling the car that wife Abbie (Debbie Honeywood) relied on for her job as a carer. Now she must travel by bus, eating into a work schedule that seems designed to discourage compassion. Everyone is running as fast as they can merely to stand still.
The film’s heart lies in its quiet observation of the lasting impact on family life. There are no easy answers offered, no triumph against the odds, just a gruelling, poignant understanding of an economic system that puts profit before people. (Allan Hunter) ■ General release from Fri 1 Nov.
DRAMA AFTER THE WEDDING (12A) 112min ●●●●●
Lavish nuptials have been the scene of much melodrama on both the big and small screen. But Bart Freundlich’s latest collaboration with wife Julianne Moore saves its showdown until the morning after the big day. It’s a gender-swapped remake of Danish director Susanne Bier’s Oscar-nominated original.
Michelle Williams plays Isabel, the co-founder of an Indian orphanage. When she’s approached by Moore’s media magnate Theresa with the offer of funding, Isabel is pressed into attending the wedding of Theresa’s daughter (Abby Quinn). Once there, she’s astonished to find that her potential benefactor is married to her old flame (Billy Crudup) and it’s not long before secrets and lies surface.
Williams projects a dreaminess that makes her character
hard to grasp. Moore, however, is terrific; Theresa’s mysterious motives draw you in before flashes of anger and vulnerability complete the picture. Shorn of Bier’s interrogatory style, the narrative flaws are laid bare. What begins as a critique of philanthropy descends into a soap opera, while the Indian sub-plot is short-changed. It’s all a little blandly polished; the anguish rarely packs the punch intended as elegance triumphs over emotion. (Emma Simmonds) ■ General release from Fri 1 Nov.
BIOPIC – CRIME THE IRISHMAN (15) 209min ●●●●●
The title of Charles Brandt’s book, I Heard You Paint Houses, makes a dramatic appearance in Martin Scorsese’s elegiac gangster epic, based on the true story of mob enforcer and union official Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro). That euphemism for contract killing is the first thing notorious Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) ever said to Frank, and it’s starkly revealed in white type on a black screen, piece by piece, for full impact. The Irishman possesses the wise-guy humour of Goodfellas but is packed full of remorse and sombre realisations. A chunk of American history – where the government, unions and the Mafia waged war – is seen through the eyes of Frank and his Mafia string-puller buddy Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci).
Pacino dials it up as the ice-cream-loving, Kennedy-hating union man in a satisfyingly showy
turn that complements Pesci’s more subtle work. De Niro is understated too, and bags some of the film’s most poignant moments – whether excruciatingly trying to express emotion, or glassy-eyed and numb. At times, the men behave like affectionate couples, breaking bread in romantic restaurants
and getting cosy in twin beds. By contrast, the devastating impact of Frank’s chosen profession on his family is felt in the contempt of his daughter Peggy (played by an underutilised Anna Paquin).
As Scorsese reunites De Niro and Pesci in a familiar genre, he takes time to reflect on alliances, violence and mortality. It’s masterful filmmaking but, unlike Goodfellas or Casino, doesn’t make room for a complicated female character. Still, it distils the crucial elements of the book and interrogates the mob movie with a wistful eye. (Katherine McLaughlin) ■ Selected release from Fri 8 Nov and on Netflix from Wed 27 Nov.
BIOPIC – HISTORY THE KING (15) 140min ●●●●● David Michôd (Animal Kingdom) is behind this ambitious reworking of William Shakespeare’s Henriad plays. The protagonist is Henry V, played by young heartthrob Timothée Chalamet. He shows impressive range as reluctant ruler ‘Hal’, who cedes his playboy lifestyle when he takes the throne. He is eventually provoked into waging war with the Dauphin of France (Robert Pattinson), though he leans towards pacifism. Co-writer Joel Edgerton plays John Falstaff and his tormented soldier is a mix of amusingly gruff and genuinely affecting.
When Pattinson appears on screen doing an awful French accent, things take a turn for the worse. Considering the giant fandoms Pattinson and Chalamet have amassed, it’s tempting to read their squabbles in the dirt as comment on their shifting sex symbol statuses. At any rate, it feels like stunt casting. Michôd has nevertheless produced an intermittently compelling treatise on the consequences of war, as he examines the way Hal gets swallowed up in its machinations, despite his best efforts. The superbly directed mud-and-guts battle at Agincourt speaks volumes on the savagery of conflict, even if the overall film strikes a disappointingly uneven tone. (Katherine McLaughlin) ■ Available on Netflix from Fri 1 Nov.
92 THE LIST 1 Nov 2019–31 Jan 2020