BEN IS BACK
Man of the moment Lucas Hedges, fresh from BOY ERASED, plays the eponymous hero in his father Peter Hedges’ touching film, which at first feels like a sequel to the recent BEAUTIFUL BOY.
19-year-old Ben Burns unexpectedly returns home for Christmas. His mother Holly (Julia Roberts) is over the moon unlike the other family members who are more wary in case Ben falls back to his old tricks and habits…
Hedges, the writer/ director, made his name as the novelist and screenwriter of WHAT’S EATING GILBERT GRAPE before he began directing his own projects like PIECES OF APRIL and DAN IN REAL LIFE. He creates a very persuasive environment with fully fleshed characters deeply affected by love but most importantly by addiction.
Julia Roberts delivers one of her best performances of recent years as the loving mother determined to do anything in her power in order to protect her vulnerable son. Lucas Hedges also excels as the charming but deeply fragile teenager trying hard to exorcise his demons from the past. The strong supporting cast includes Courtney B. Vance and Kathryn Newton as Ben’s no-nonsense stepfather and sister.
A perfectly crafted drama graced with sensitive and heart-breaking performances.
Lukas Dhont is a worthy winner at many international Festivals including the Sutherland Award for First Feature Competition at last October’s BFI London Film Festival. He tells the story of Lara (Victor Polster), a transgender teenager training hard to become a professional ballerina. The story is loosely based on the life of Belgian dancer Nora Monsecour and benefits tremendously from Victor Polster’s remarkable portrayal. Her Lara is a dignified presence and a talented individual fortunate enough to get solid support from her father and younger brother.
Recently there have been many films focusing on struggling ballerinas pursuing their dreams but this exceptional film is heads and shoulders above the rest!
The young Jackson Robert Scott plays Miles – the title’s prodigy most effectively, in a totally committed and evil performance very much in the style of Damien’s from THE OMEN films. Nicholas McCarthy focuses the action on Miles’ mother Sarah (Taylor Schilling), whose love for her child turns into a nightmare when she begins to suspect that her son may be possessed by a supernatural force…
Schilling is strong and so is Scott, who is very believable as the angelic boy from hell.
The plot may be predictable at times and the direction by numbers but overall it is an engaging horror film that will satisfy the fans of the genre.
CHILDREN OF THE SNOW LAND
It has taken almost five years for Zara Balfour and Marcus Stephenson to complete this excellent documentary which tells the story of a group of children born in remote areas in the High Himalayas of Nepal and sent from an early age by the parents to a school in the capital city of Kathmandu. The children believe they have been abandoned by their parents until years later after graduation they are allowed to embark on a long, arduous journey through the mountains in order to visit home…
It is a film of great beauty and dignity superbly photographed with fine contributions from the three selected children and their video diaries. Mesmerising and deeply moving!
The action of this amiable yet not that exciting feature by Simon Amstell (screened at last year’s London Film Festival) takes place in East and North London and tells the story of Benjamin (Colin Morgan), an aspiring filmmaker about to premiere his second film. However, his life turns upside down when he falls for Noah (Phenix Brossard), a talented French musician.
It is a good premise but curiously it is difficult to get involved or care much about the characters’ predicament despite Colin Morgan’s highly watchable contribution.
Chris Foggin’s likable but uneven film is inspired by the true story of a group of Cornish fisherman signed by Island Records. This is a change of direction for Daniel Mays, who plays against type the romantic lead – a music executive responsible for signing up this unlikely group of top of the pop stars…
The acting is variable and the script often sinks into sentimentality which threatens to sink the fishing boat as well!
Also out this week:
MAIDEN: Alex Holmes’ excellent documentary tells the thrilling story of Tracy Edwards, a determined 24-year-old who manages against the odds to enter the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1989 with an all-female crew. Truly inspiring, thrilling and unmissable!
ROSIE: A compelling film about a young mother struggling to find a place for her homeless family to stay, after their landlord sells their rented home. Sarah Greene excels as Rosie in this truly moving film which brings to mind early work from Ken Loach.
H IS FOR HARRY: Harry is an 11-year-old boy who arrives at secondary school in suburban London unable to read or write. This fascinating documentary follows Harry over two years as he struggles to overcome his illiteracy inherited by his family.
SCOTCH – THE GOLDEN DRAM: You don’t have to be a Scotch lover to enjoy this engaging documentary about the story of “Water for Life” and its most famous distiller Jim McEwan. Scotch whiskey has put Scotland on the international map as the home of one of the most desirable spirits. Cheers!