With its heart in the right place, this charming British football drama overcomes a script that frequently drifts into sentimentality and corny plotting. But the story is involving, and the cast is particularly good. So even though it has a tendency to drift into cuteness, a fresh sense of humour and sympathetic characters help build up a swell of honest emotion as it approaches the final whistle.
It's set in 1984 Manchester, where the legendary Manchester United manager Matt Busby (Brian Cox) is still haunted by the Munich plane crash in 1958 that took the lives of several of his dream-team players. In search of something to give meaning to his retirement years, he runs across a street-smart 10-year-old named Georgie (Jack Smith), who has his own issues. Georgie lives with his working-class single mum Erica (Natascha McElhone), who worries about his future and leaps at the chance of a scholarship to send him to a posh private school. Georgie isn't thrilled about studying for the entrance exam with snooty professor Farquar (Toby Stephens); he'd rather be out kicking a ball with his friends, and is secretly plotting to enter a youth competition with them. But they need an adult sponsor, so Matt and his friend Bob (Philip Jackson) agree to take them on. And the kids have no idea that they're being trained by a national icon.
Director David Scheinmann shoots the film with sundrenched charm, grounding the goofier moments by encouraging the cast to give deeply felt performances. At the centre, Cox and Jackson are an entertaining double act as old pals kickstarting their lives by taking on this young team overflowing with raw talent but no discipline. McElhone is essentially playing the standard movie mother who's too busy with the pressures of everyday life to notice much of anything that her tearaway son is doing, but she gives the role a sharp emotional centre. Stephens has more trouble in his rather wacky role, which drifts from callous nastiness to physical slapstick.
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Joe is a fiercely determined 50-year-old woman whose sexual drive has taken over her entire life. Her story of how she ended up injured in an alleyway and subsequently being nursed back to health by the curious Seligman deepens and darkens in this half of the story, as she relays tales of how her sexuality has caused so much damage. In a bid to somehow recover from her nymphomania, she attends a therapy group, but she also can't resist meeting a therapist of a different kind as she finds new and more dangerous ways to challenge herself and her sexuality. Her pleasure through pain has led her to a potential job with a group of criminals who are looking for somebody to inflict pain on their victims. But with such instable people around her, just how close is she to landing in some serious trouble?
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Nearly 20 years after Interview With the Vampire, Neil Jordan returns to the genre to breath some new life into a mythology that has grown stale, predictable and rather mopey (see Twilight). With a lively script by Buffini, Jordan creates a lushly stylish dramatic thriller that continually takes us aback with off-beat storytelling and complex characters who don't always do what we expect them to.
The story centres on mother-daughter immortals Clara and Eleanor (Arterton and Ronan), who are on the run when they arrive in a fading British seaside town. The resourceful Clara seduces the nervous Noel (Mays) so they can stay in his dilapidated Byzantium guesthouse. To earn some cash, the always resourceful Clara turns the empty rooms into a brothel. Meanwhile, Eleanor befriends the fragile young Frank (Jones) and reveals the fact that she and her mother are actually more than 200 years old and need human blood to survive. Through all of this, they're being chased by two elder vampires, the ruthless Ruthven (Miller) and the more sympathetic Darvell (Riley), both of whom share a tangled romantic past with Clara.
Unusually intelligent, the film holds our interest with an astonishing series of twists and turns plus an array of colourful characters that play on stereotypes. Holding it all together is a fairly simple plot that reveals itself in bits and pieces until the full picture comes into focus. From this point, we pretty much know what has to happen in the big finale, but watching events unfold is satisfying and sometimes both thrilling and moving.
Continue reading: Byzantium Review
Clara and Eleanor are a mother and daughter, born two centuries ago as vampires and surviving only on the blood of mortal beings. They escape to an English seaside town and are taken into an abandoned guesthouse by the owner, Noel. While Clara takes on a job as a lady of the night who drains the blood from her clients, Eleanor has dreams of being a writer, chronicling her life as a vampire in pages that she usually scatters in the wind. It isn't long before they are discovered, both by the mortal people of the town and by The Brotherhood; an all-male vampire organisation that seek to find and kill Clara. Eleanor meets a boy called Frank, who she develops feelings for and spills the secrets of her world to, angering her mother who fears for their safety. As knowledge of their existence spreads further and further, they are forced to confront their past and the deadly secrets that come with it.
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It's 1974 when Jenny and Len (Ashfield and Waddington) move into a new home.
They're delighted with the increase in space and the lovely Yorkshire setting, but their 17-year-old daughter Sally (Connor) is annoyed that her life has been disrupted. And the rolling blackouts don't help either, especially since the darkness seems to reveal something malevolent lurking in the shadows.
Continue reading: When The Lights Went Out Review
The Low Down is Exhibit A when it comes to this offense. Lazy, meandering, mopey, and flat, this is a cheap-looking film obsessed with showing off a hip image it doesn't actually have.
Continue reading: The Low Down Review
With its heart in the right place, this charming British football drama overcomes a script...
Joe is a fiercely determined 50-year-old woman whose sexual drive has taken over her entire...
Nearly 20 years after Interview With the Vampire, Neil Jordan returns to the genre to...
Clara and Eleanor are a mother and daughter, born two centuries ago as vampires and...
Based on an outrageous true story, this is essentially Britain's own Amityville Horror, as a...