Richard marries Mildred, and that – in another place and era – would be an end of it. But not in Virginia, in the fifties, not when Richard Loving is white and his beloved is African American. Miscegenation – in the pejorative language of the time (a language I remember all too well as a South African more or less of that epoch) – is verboten, and the Lovings are drummed out of town and out of Virginia. Until, that is, their case is taken by civil rights lawyers, all the way to the Supreme Court, and the miscegenation laws are […]
Time strips us bare. In ’45 Years,’ the truths and assumptions that underpin a relationship are called into question when the ground – quite literally – crumbles beneath the feet of a long-married couple. The past is always with us, Faulkner told us – it isn’t even past. Director: Andrew Haigh. Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay. Verdict: Flawless; mesmerising. A good Bordeaux – several glasses.
It’s the ‘fifties again, folks – like ‘Carol’ which I’ve just reviewed, a nostalgic look in the rearview mirror. Irish girl leaves poverty and the Old Country to find a new life and love in America – after a suitable quantum of struggle, of course. Beautifully shot – but whereas the visuals in ‘Carol’ are psychological as well as broodingly romantic, here the visuals are just props for a sentimental journey. Director: John Crowley. Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen Verdict: Consumer-friendly, enjoyable. Tea and biscuits.
The Danish Girl, set in Copenhagen and Paris in the 1920s and based on a true story, relates the travails of a married painter who decides he is a woman, and undergoes a sex change operation. Beautifully shot, wrenching. The universal in the particular. Director: Tom Hooper. Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander Verdict: Strong stuff. Excellent. Double whisky
Set in a Swiss spa, ‘Youth’ focuses, if that is the word, on the philosophizing and reminiscences of two elderly creatives, one a composer, played by Michael Caine, the other a film director, played by Harvey Keitel. Director: Paolo Sorrentino Verdict: Artifice not art. Pretentious; lacks sparkle. Tap water.
The past is another country, and Mike Leigh shows us this is about more than differences in costume and manners. The world that JMW Turner, in this terrific portrayal, inhabits and paints is different from ours – none of our cold scientific rationalism, or post- post-modernism here. But then – this is not history, or biography, or art documentary, but drama, and a fine drama it is too. Beautifully, even lavishly filmed, there is nary a false brush-stroke to be found. Director: Mike Leigh. Timothy Spall Verdict: It’s a Mike Leigh film, right? A fine red wine – Rhone? Bordeaux?