Strong characters help hold the attention as this overcooked drama develops, but in the end it feels so concocted that it's difficult to believe. While there's plenty of potential in the premise, the film becomes distracted by irrelevant subplots that try to stir up some tension but never quite manage it. And for a movie about food, the cuisine is simply too abstract to be mouthwatering.
At the centre is Adam (Bradley Cooper), a bad boy chef whose partying ways ended his high-flying career in Paris. After a period of penance in New Orleans, he moves to London to start again, with the goal of finally getting his elusive third Michelin star. Since he has alienated his friends, he turns to Tony (Daniel Bruhl), a guy who always had a soft spot for him and happens to be running a posh restaurant, which Adam quickly takes over. He rustles up some old colleagues (Omar Sy and Riccardo Scamarcio) and hires hot-shot Helene (Sienna Miller) as his sous chef. But his demanding perfectionism is keeping things from running very smoothly.
This set-up is ripe for both black comedy and soul-searching drama, and yet writer Steven Knight throws in irrelevant sideroads including a mandated therapist (the wonderful Emma Thompson), a bitter rival (a jagged Matthew Rhys), a couple of randomly violent loan sharks and a precocious little girl. Even though the actors do what they can to make every scene intriguing, none of these story elements add anything to the overall film. Still, Cooper holds the movie together with sheer charisma, even if his sudden transition from absolute tyrant to cuddly sweetheart isn't terribly convincing. At least he adds some surprising textures to his scenes, and indulges in sparky banter with those around him. And while Miller is solid in her thankless role, even she can't breathe life into such a thinly developed romance.
Continue reading: Burnt Review
Charlotte is a proud career woman living in finely placed, plush city apartment with very defined ambitions and the confidence to achieve them. Unfortunately, the media agency she works for sees her future a little differently, and she is cut off from the scheme she's worked so hard for. Angrily, she comes home and bumps into her cleaner with whom she has a violent argument. The row escalates, and Charlotte fatally injures her by accident. Panic-stricken, she dumps the body just in time for the arrival of her sister Sarah and her niece. Remembering the CCTV, she attempts to get hold of the taped evidence and meets security official Roger, who watches the tapes for himself and witnesses everything. However, this is a man with very few scruples and he has no intention of going to the police with his findings. Instead, he invites himself into her life, shamelessly seduces Sarah, and sets out to make Charlotte's life a living hell.
Continue: Keeping Rosy Trailer
Sleek and tightly constructed, this low-key British horror thriller worms its way under the skin to put us in what feels like an impossible situation. We may not be able to identify with everything the central character does, or each decision she makes, but we squirm at the thought of being in her shoes. And by keeping everything so understated and suggestive, filmmaker Steve Reeves manages to deliver several terrific jolts.
In London, corporate executive Charlotte (Maxine Peake) is having a seriously terrible day. After giving up her personal life for her job, she's bypassed for a big promotion that goes instead to Tom (Sam Hoare), whose wife (Tori Hart) has just had the baby Charlotte has always longed for. After drowning her frustration in alcohol, she goes home to find her surly cleaner Maya (Elisa Lasowski) smoking in her flat and trying to steal a bottle of champagne. But their confrontation takes a dark turn when Charlotte accidentally kills Maya. In a panic, she hides the body. But this only begins a series of major decisions Charlotte must make. She reaches out to her sister Sarah (Christine Bottomley) for help, but things begin to feel a lot more precarious when the smiley Roger (Blake Harrison) turns up.
The title refers to one of Charlotte's most important choices, which is something better discovered in the context of the story. Indeed, the entire movie seems to exist behind Peake's expressive eyes and stony face. She gives Charlotte an uncanny inner life, thinking through the ramifications of every startling twist as if it was part of a major corporate project. It's easy to see why she is so good at her job, although her intelligence also makes some of what she does feel rather contrived. But Peake's considerable screen presence makes it clear that Charlotte is the kind of woman who doesn't accept help from anyone and would rather do even the dirtiest work herself.
Continue reading: Keeping Rosy Review
There's some interesting material in this dark British drama, but it's so relentlessly grim that we are never able to connect with anyone on-screen. It doesn't help that all of the characters are pretty unlikeable. And the improvised story itself feels oddly bleak and aimless. Honestly, for a movie called The Comedian, you'd think there would be a few laughs.
The title character is Ed (Hogg), an insurance salesman who is trying to get his stand-up career up and running. But his abrasive routines leave audiences cold. Then he discovers that he has at least one fan, Nathan (Stewart-Jarrett), and they begin a slow-burning romance that's complicated by the fact that Ed is also attracted to his flatmate Elisa (Lasowski). Or maybe it's just that he wants everyone to love him. Which isn't likely to happen since he's such a grump. And as his life spirals into darkness, he refuses the help of the few people left who care about him.
Yes, it's pretty difficult to engage with a central character who's such a moody idiot. Even when he's the life of the party, he lashes out with insults and aggressively wallows in self-pity. Hogg has proved before how adept he is at this kind of abrasively internalised performance (see White Lightnin' if you dare), and he skilfully lets us see glimpses of the fragile man inside. By contrast, Stewart-Jarrett is kind and charming, while Lasowski adds an earthy tenderness in the way she reacts to Ed's behaviour.
Continue reading: The Comedian Review
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