(15) 89 mins ***
. A slight tale of two teenage girls falling
in love in the small Swedish town of Amal, Lukus Moodysson's film combines a cinema verite eye with some stock situations and characters. There’s the untrendy and sulky Agnes (Rebecca Liljeberg), whose birthday party turns into a squibbish affair as hardly anyone shows up. Then there’s the girl with whom she falls in love: apparently one of life’s luckier souls, the pretty and popular Elin (Alexandra Dahlstrom).
Yet it looks as if Agnes’s dreams might come true: Elin’s as attracted to Agnes as vice versa; but will the pair of them dare to pursue their tentative
The Talented Mr Ripley
(15) 139 mins ****
For many, the appeal of Patricia Highsmith’s eponymous anti-hero is his desire to improve his life and the extraordinary steps he takes to realise it. In Anthony Minghella's adaptation of the first Ripley novel, previously made as the 1960 French film Plein So/eil, Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) befriends then adopts the life of rich kid Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law). Ripley being an infamous literary murderer, it’s no surprise how he goes about claiming Dickie’s ex-pat lifestyle in late 505 Italy. But Minghella’s film, and
I Highsmith’s novel, is so much more
than a tale of murder. It’s also about lust, love and the interchangeability of identities. In fact, circumstances force Ripley to live two lives at once — his own and Dickie’s.
Minghella’s adaptation emphasises
.r i. 1" I it -,
Swedish rite of passage: Show Me Love
feelings any further?
Creating tension and turmOil out of the rite of passage movie gets harder and harder. What's left to raise an eyebrow — the further reaches of trollism, bestiality and shagging inanimate objects? Too late, they’ve all been done. But Moodysson manages a modicum of freshness through a hand held camera that always looks as if it’s caught the action, not just witnessed its staging. Add to this a gay affair in a tiny Scandinavian town, the differing peer status of the two sixteen year olds and the contrasting social backgrounds (Agnes's is comfortable, Elin’s less so) and there are enough variables at work to keep the film gorng for an engaging hour and a half. (Tony McKibbin)
I Edinburgh: Fi/mhouse Fri 2 Mar, Glasgow." GFT Fri 24 Mar.
Victim: Jude Law
aspects of the novel treated with more subtlety by Highsrnith. The class status of Tom and Dickie is more polarised and the homoerotic subtext becomes a full blown affair in the film. Not to suggest Minghella over-simplifies, indeed the relationships between the characters —« Tom and Dickie, but also Dickie’s lover Marge (Gwyneth Paltrow), his old pal Freddie (Philip Seymour Hoffniann), heiress Meredith (Cate Blanchett) and Marge’s gay friend Peter (Jack Davenport) — are convincing and sharply observed. And the cast of pretty young things do them justice.
As with Minghella’s prevrous film, The English Patient, the whole affair is wrapped up in lush period detail, picturesque locations, stylish photography and a fine music score. Classy all the way. (Miles Fielder)
I Currently on general release.
; (1 Anjelica Huston lived in Ireland as a child so it's surprising that she has i cliches and stereotypes than you can
‘ for this unashamedly sentimental
: with Brendan O’Carroll's original
new releases FILM
A nes Browne 91 mins **
packed her sophomore directorial effort, Agnes Browne, with more
shake a shamrock at. Though the fault vision of the Emerald Isle may partly lie
novel, The Mammy.
You can see what probably attracted Huston to the material. As Agnes Browne, a big-hearted, salt of the earth matriarch struggling to raise her children alone in Dublin, circa 1967, she gets to play dowdy, glamorous, sensitive and vulgar — who ever thought we'd hear her say ’wank’? The script doesn’t dig deep into its characters, so problems — including the death of a major character — come and go, but they barely impact upon either the peOpIe involved or us.
To be fair, Huston is convincing and has a nice on-screen rapport with Marion O’Dwyer as her best friend. However, this determinedly feelgood film is too obvious in its intentions to be emotionally affecting. An ill at ease Tom Jones appears at the end as a sort of kitsch Deus Ex Machina, as he did in Mars Attacks! But he couldn’t save that film and he can’t save this one either. (Steven Applebaum)
I General release from Fri 3 Mar.
Next Friday (15) 98 mins *** Next Friday shows an easy way to make a sequel that is better than the original — just make a follow-up to a film where only twenty seconds are needed to recap the storyline.
It is four years since Craig (Ice Cube) beat up local bully Debo (Tommy 'Tiny’ Lister, Jr). Little has changed in his life except that his best pal Smoky (Chris Tucker) has just entered rehab (more a sign that Tucker’s appearance fee has exploded in the past four years than an anti-drugs message). When Debo breaks out of jail Craig is sent to his uncle’s house in the suburbs to hide out. There Craig creates havoc in the life of his cousin Day-Day (Mike Epps).
Sadly, Epps’s effort to replace Tucker as Cube’s sidekick only downgrades the sequel. Otherwise, Next Friday has more of everything — Villains, girls, fights and, of course, marijuana. Instead of having to find $200 to save the day, Craig now has to come up with $3900. He must not only overcome Debo, but also his criminal Hispanic neighbours as well as sisters D’Wana (Tamala Jones) and Baby D (Lady Of Rage). More importantly, however, Next Friday packs in more gags than the original. (Kaleem Aftab)
I General release from Fri 70 Mar.
Blarney: Anjelica Huston's Agnes Browne
Graduating: Ice Cube in Next Friday
Whatever Happened To Harold Smith? (15) 95 mins **
This messy concoction of teen romance, working class comedy and 70s kitsch feels like a lame television sitcom spin-off and prompts one question: Why? Because, despite Guest House Paradiso, there's still money in the bank for low concept British comedies? Because Tom Courtenay (The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner, Bil/y Liar) wanted to make a return to from the stage to film? Who knows, it's just a shame the money wasn't spent elsewhere and that Courtenay, a fine actor, didn’t choose a better comeback film. Not that Harold Smith doesn’t have its moments: Davrd Thewlis’s hilarious dictatorial, sartorially-challenged boss of a solicitor’s office; Mark ’The Fast Show‘ Williams's leering talk show host; and Stephen Fry’s right-on parent, whose sex education lessons to his daughter involve gratuitous nudity. But these are all supporting players in scenes peripheral to the main story, which involves Harold Smith’s (Courtenay) mild mannered retired dad, who possesses Uri Gellar-like mind powers, and his son, Vince (Michael Legge), who is desperately trying to cop off with workmate Joanna (Laura Fraser). Ironically, Courtenay, the titular star, has the weakest role in a film swamped by a plethora of cameo parts. (Miles Fielder) I General release from Fri 70 Mar.
Spot the joke: Tom Courtenay in Whatever Happened To Harold Smith?
2~16 Mar 2000 THE lIST 25