My Old Lady (2014 dir. Israel Horovitz)

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My Old Lady is a comedy drama about a troubled American, Mathias (Kevin Kline), who inherits his father’s apartment in Paris only to discover that it is inhabited by 90 year old ‘viager’ Mathilde (Maggie Smith) and her daughter Chloe (Kristin Scott Thomas). The viager system for buying and selling apartments means that Mathias will not get the apartment until Mathilde dies, and that while she is alive he must pay her €2400 a month.

Recovering alcoholic Mathias is broke and homeless and Mathilde allows him to stay with her in exchange for his watch. Whilst there he plots to sell the apartment to a wealthy lawyer, upsets Chloe and secretly sells and pockets money in exchange for their precious vintage furniture.

He is obnoxious and yet through the retelling of past experiences is able to eventually bond with the pair.

This is a sophisticated film with a complex and entertaining storyline that though meanders to a somewhat predictable end, remains engaging and funny throughout.

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Belle (2014 dir. Amma Asante)

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Anyone who classes themselves as a true friend will know of my interest in the stories and experiences of the African-Caribbean diaspora and my penchant for period dramas, thus it will be of no surprise that I went out of my way to see this film.

Inspired by a painting of  Lady Elizabeth Dido Lindsay, Britain’s first black aristocrat, Belle explores the social conventions and hypocrisies of 18th century England. 

The film was written by black British writer Misan Sagay and directed by Amma Asante and boasts a sterling cast of accomplished actors such as Tom Wilkinson and Miranda Richardson as well as relative newcomers Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Sam Reid; all of whom contribute to making this film a real gem.

The film, I hope, symbolises a move amongst those in the British media to portray the lives of black Britons before 1948, although the British film industry need to pull their socks up and tell us the stories of The Empire Windrush generation too.

Belle is an excellent British film and one that I would expect to become a classic. As well as an alluring love story it addresses race, gender and class inequality in the 1700s.

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The painting, by an anonymous artist, that inspired the screenplay, now hung at Scone Palace in Perth, Scotland, the family seat.

 

Trishna (2012 dir. Michael Winterbottom)

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Sandra’s Verdict
Pinto is mesmerising as the naive and delicate Trishna, in this loose adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles, and even though I hadn’t read the book I was still throughly impressed with the universal issues within this film.

A key line from the film, which also features in the trailer, has Jay, the wealthy son of a businessman, saying to Trishna that The Karma Sutra
says there are three types of heroines that you’re allowed to make love to, the maid, the single lady and the courtesan. So which one are you?’ Themes of unfairness, social expectation and male dominance are explored when Jay embarks on a passionate affair with Trishna. As they travel from Jaipur to modern Mumbai their relationship seems to transcend that of master and servant, and at times it looks as though Jay wants to elevate Trishna to his equal. However as the film develops we see both characters struggle with their feelings and social position.

The film has received mixed reviews with some critics claiming that the film fails to make a big enough impact on the audience. I disagree, I found this to be both an intricate and compelling film. The film also boasts an excellent musical score by Shigeru Umebayashi and Bollywood composer Amit Trivedi that creates a perfect bed on which to navigate through the narrative’s complex themes.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012 dir. John Madden)

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Sandra’s Verdict

A film based on the novel These Foolish Things by Deborah Moggach, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel portrays an alternative image of retirement through a colourful bunch of over sixties who have abandoned the UK for the warm and eventful surroundings of Jaipur, India. The film’s cast of talented stars like Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson and Dev Patel, as well as the backing of Fox Searchlight Pictures will ensure that this is a hit with the marketing campaign having started as far back as November 2011.

Nevertheless this film is a real gem not simply because of the budget and acting talent but also due to the wit and charm of the characters, the wonderful and modern story it relays and the beautiful pictures created by cinematographer Ben Davis.

 Another great thing about going to see this film was that it left you feeling hopeful, that there was more to life than worry and in deed more to old age than urine soaked undies and senility. At the end of the film I enjoyed turning round and seeing an audience that were made up of all ages but more wonderfully, an audience that included more mature cinemagoers. This film rejoices love, life and living for the moment.