list.co.uk/ﬁlm REVIEWS | FILM
HORROR SAINT MAUD (15) 84min ●●●●●
DRAMA WHO YOU THINK I AM (15) 102min ●●●●● DRAMA THE ROADS NOT TAKEN (TBC) 85min ●●●●●
Writer-director Rose Glass cultivates a darkly disturbing tone from the off in her impressive first feature. A psychological horror about a nurse working in palliative care, Morfydd Clark assumes the title role, while Jennifer Ehle plays her patient, the retired dancer Amanda. Safy Nebbou’s Who You Think I Am is the kind of florid potboiler that is hard to take seriously. Juliette Binoche is a luminous presence at the centre of the nonsense, but struggles to lend conviction to a character who seems more like a caricature of what we have come to expect and admire in Binoche.
Amanda’s lifestyle and sexuality set the pious and Her literature professor Claire is fraught with anxiety
obsessively religious Maud on edge. Amanda is intent on celebrating her final days with glamourous gatherings and erotic encounters. The contrast between the two is the catalyst for a bitter battle of wits and strength. As Maud attempts to control her, Amanda bites back with nasty retorts. Unfolding in an unnamed seaside town,
cinematographer Ben Fordesman transforms twinkling lights into a surreal nightmare of loneliness and doom. It is by turns claustrophobic, with Glass closing in on haunted faces, and vast, in the way it reaches into the depths of the human condition to expose raw wounds and fragile inner lives. Boundary- pushing and barnstormingly performed, together, Glass, Clark and Ehle represent a holy trinity of talent, setting the screen ablaze with an intensity that rarely lets up. (Katherine McLaughlin)) ■ General release from Fri 1 May.
about growing older. Divorced in favour of a much younger woman, she considers herself a victim. The fact that she looks like Binoche and is having hot sex with thirtysomething stud Ludo (Guillaume Gouix) tends to undermine her case. Humiliated and abandoned, she takes revenge by creating a fake social media profile for twentysomething fashion industry intern ‘Clara’ and is soon stalking Ludo’s roommate (a sweet, sympathetic François Civil). We learn a good deal of these events through Claire’s sessions with her psychoanalyst (Nicole Garcia). The confrontations between the two are the film’s highlight, while the desires of older women are rich source material. Unfortunately, the increasingly convoluted and silly plotting undermines any chance of an entertaining film. (Allan Hunter) ■ Selected release and on Curzon Home Cinema from Fri 8 May.
British institution Sally Potter’s latest is her starriest effort since 2000’s The Man Who Cried, which featured Johnny Depp and Cate Blanchett. This time she has Javier Bardem in the lead, with strong support from Elle Fanning and Salma Hayek in a story said to be inspired by the medical history of Potter’s musician brother Nic. Set primarily in New York, Bardem plays Leo, who is suffering from frontotemporal dementia, which makes even the most basic of tasks seem mountainous. When his daughter Molly (Fanning) takes him to a dental appointment, he wets his trousers and screams like a child. Where the film falters is with two alternative histories
belonging to Leo. Blending facts and fiction, these hallucinatory stories are, presumably, playing out in Leo’s mind. One sees him with sweetheart Dolores (Hayek) back in Mexico, the other finds him pursuing his literary ambitions on a Greek island. Although these scenes are left open to interpretation, they disrupt the flow of the main narrative. But The Roads Not Taken does boast outstanding work from the main trio, plus Laura Linney as Leo’s snarky ex-wife. It’s not exactly Potter at her finest, but her heart is undoubtedly in the right place. (James Mottram) ■ General release from Fri 1 May.
DRAMA PROXIMA (12A) 107min ●●●●●
A painful parting in the most unusual of circumstances is fuel for a heartrending astronaut drama from Disorder director Alice Winocour. It’s a film that eschews spectacle in favour of a gorgeously drawn love story between mother and daughter.
Our protagonist’s destination might ultimately be Mars but the story stays grounded on Earth, as the process of preparing for space travel is laid bare. Joining an international mission, French astronaut Sarah (Eva Green) is put through her paces at facilities including Star City; a gruelling schedule punctuated by visits from her daughter Stella (Zélie Boulant). Although Sarah is made of robust stuff, Green casts off her vampish persona to portray her struggles with delicacy. Meanwhile, Winocour’s camera hones in on details which capture the strength of the mother-daughter bond: how much they appreciate each other’s smell; Stella clinging to her mother like a limpet as she’s carried to bed.
Winocour and her screenwriting collaborator Jean-Stéphane Bron have much to say on the sacrifices women must make in order to succeed professionally, and on the sexism they come up against when they dare to encroach on fiercely guarded male territory; Sarah chafes against a more experienced American astronaut, brilliantly portrayed by Matt Dillon, whose scepticism of her worth is barely concealed.
We’re more used to male soul-searching in this kind of scenario,
or for the space travel itself to provide some of the substance, so it’s exciting to approach a faintly familiar story from such a fresh, emotionally satisfying perspective. Natural, beautiful and insightful, Proxima may speak to mothers specifically but, in its profundity, it has something to say to us all. (Emma Simmonds) ■ General release postponed due to COVID-19 virus. See feature, page 53.
1 Apr–31 May 2020 THE LIST 71