A Bourne like film that has a pace that keeps you engaged but won’t leave you feeling like you’ve seen anything new. Safe House promises much with the calibre of an actor like Denzel Washington in the co-lead role opposite a rather good Ryan Reynolds who plays the CIA newbie tasked with running the Cape Town Safe House where Washington’s character is placed after he comes in from the cold. A very typical conspiratorial plot plays out and this is a disappointment as the film promised more. We get glimpses of a film that could have been a psychological thriller between Washington and Reynolds or a masterful spy conspiracy piece. However, neither of these things happen. Think a watered-down version of Washington in the film Man on Fire and Reynolds doing some Bourne type stunts and this is Safe House. An easy action film that’s a little too formulaic to truly get the blood pumping.
There are a lot of bits in this film and I’m not talking about the narrative, in fact within the first 2 minutes of the film we get to see a completely nude Michael Fassbender and shortly after it is Carey Mulligan’s turn as McQueen introduces the strangely sexual relationship between the on-screen siblings.
Shame is a tense and emotionally charged British drama set in New York which portrays a few days in the life of the sex obsessed and emotionally dysfunctional professional Brandon Sullivan who can sleep with multiple prostitutes but not with women who he fancies. Cissy (Mulligan) and Brandon both seem to have a very odd relationship to sex and it is suggested, although not developed, that this may be due to a childhood of abuse.
The film contains a lot of graphic scenes designed to cause discomfort and pity for the main characters as they continuously press the self-destruct button.
This is an affecting film that shocks you initially but then draws you in. By the end of the film you are no longer repulsed but instead empathise with the unbalanced characters.
So another visit to the Coronet Cinema and the magic of the small screen showcase that tonight is a cult classic. The film, Martha Marcy May Marlene starts off like a classic docu drama of a runaway cult member but quickly becomes a rather emotional and tense drama that is unsettling and nervous. We witness the psychological damage of a young innocent wanderer retold through memories and dreams that intensify and affect her waking moments. Even in the safe surroundings of what would be an idyllic get away villa her mind remains trapped in the cult. An affecting film with themes of manipulation, loss, anger, and paranoia.
The film is about a young woman, Martha (Elizabeth Olsen), who is struggling to come to terms with life after running from a cult headed by the manipulative Patrick, played by John Hawkes. Both Olsen and Hawke’s performances are impressive, Hawkes as a predatory and abusive leader and Olsen as damaged, self-destructive and paranoid Martha.
The film is shot in two lone locations, the run down farm which is home to the cult and the large riverside holiday home of Martha’s sister Lucy which are coloured with dull tones of grey and brown indicating Martha’s isolation; further presented through the cinematographer’s use of depth of field which often isolates her from her surroundings.
The film is less of a story in the sense of problem and resolution but instead floats in between memory and reality to provide glimpses of the demons that haunt the protagonist and explain her unconventional behaviour.
The film has won critical acclaim including a Sundance Film Festival Award for best director and a Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for best leading actress, both of which are well deserved.
Don’t see this film if you are looking for sensation, do see this film if you are looking for something gritty and exploratory.