DRAMA THE FATHER OF MY CHILDREN (LE PERE DE MES ENFANTS) (12A) 110min ●●●●●
A charming and popular middle-aged man, Gregoire Canvel (Louis-Do de Lencquesaing) appears to lead an enviable life. Happily married to the Italian Sylvia (Chiara Caselli) with whom he has three daughters, Clémence (Alice de Lencquesaing from Summer Hours), Valentine (Alice Gautier) and Billie (Manelle Driss), he runs a respected company in Paris that produces independent films from around the world. However, his work problems are mounting: the Swedish shoot of Saturn is running behind schedule and the crew are threatening to strike over unpaid wages, and Gregoire already owes millions of euros to various banks, creditors and film labs. Sinking into despair, he resorts to a drastic plan.
Inspired by the fate of French producer Humbert Balsan, this impressively
mature second feature from writer-director Mia Hansen-Love’s is both a convincing portrait of the punishing realities of funding arthouse cinema and an affecting study of a family coping with an unexpected bereavement. In less skilful hands the raw material of The Father of My Children might easily have resulted in a sentimental tearjerker, but in this film of two distinct halves Hansen-Love favours a fluid, elliptical style of storytelling, in which important dramatic events remain unseen and in which the narrative focus shifts away from Gregoire to Sylvia and then to Clémence. In contrast to the frantic pace of Gregoire’s overburdened professional life – he’s a man in constant motion, a mobile phone invariably clamped to one ear – there are also moments of quiet beauty, not least when the girls swim in the milky waters of a Tuscan rock pool during a summer break. Music is used sparingly yet effectively in the film, with songs such as Doris Day singing ‘Que Sera Sera’ and Johnny Leydon’s ‘Johnny Remember Me’ evoking the feelings of the characters. Above all the naturalistic performances possess a moving truthfulness, particularly those of the real-life father and daughter combination of Louis-Do and Alicia de Lencquesaing. (Tom Dawson) ■ GFT, Glasgow and Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 5 Mar. See profile, index.
46 THE LIST 4–18 Mar 2010
ACTION/HORROR/FANTASY LEGION (15) 100min ●●●●●
As vaguely defined forces of darkness gather in the desert outside, machine-gun toting angel Michael (Paul Bettany) and other patrons of the Paradise Falls diner, including Bob (Dennis Quaid), Jeep (Lucas Black), Kyle (Tyres Gibson) and the pregnant Willa (Audrey Anderson) barricade themselves in for a long night. A tensionless siege develops, with random interruptions from outside in the form of a foul-mouthed, spider-walking old lady, gun-toting zombies in cars and eventually the Archangel Gabriel himself, played by Lost’s Kevin Durand. Like the equally lumpen Constantine, Legion attempts to fuse heavy religiosity
with hard-boiled action, a combination which simply doesn’t gel – despite Stewart having several millennia of religious iconography to draw from. Despite the tepid results here, Bettany and Stuart are about to reteam for
comic book adaptation Priest, about a warrior priest who battles vampires when his niece is kidnapped. It can only be better than this ponderous effort, which short-changes thrill-seekers with dollops of pseudo-theological dialogue while dealing out the action highlights somewhat parsimoniously. (Eddie Harrison) ■ General release from Fri 5 Mar.
THRILLER THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (MAN SOM HATAR KVINNOR) (18) 152min ●●●●●
When investigative journalist Mikhael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) ends up the wrong end of a libel case brought by a Swedish industrialist, his career looks all washed up. His white knight turns out to be another industrialist Henrik Vanger the aging former CEO of a group of companies owned by his wealthy but dysfunctional family. Vanger wants Blomkvist to investigate the 40-year-old disappearance of his beloved great niece. Blomkvist’s investigations go nowhere until the intervention of a mysterious gothic Pippi Longstocking called Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace). Produced like its two now
completed forthcoming sequels by Swedish TV and film production company Yellow Bird (also responsible for the Swedish and English language versions of Wallander), The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo or more to the point the film’s adapters (Scando screenwriting team Nikolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg) certainly believe in taking the scenic route. So inclusive and reverential is their approach to Stieg Laarson’s original novel that the film actually begins to feel padded. This solidly made thriller does however has its charms. Swedish acting royalty Nykvist and undoubted rising star Rapace make a compelling and oddball detective team, and celebrated TV film director Niels Arden Oplev maintains a suitably downbeat and hard boiled tone throughout the many twists and turns. (Paul Dale) ■ General release from Fri 12 Feb.
ALSO RELEASED Ondine (12A) 104min ●●●●● Irish trawlerman Syracuse (Colin Farrell) discovers a beautiful woman trapped in his fishing nets and offers her sanctuary. Writer and filmmaker Neil Jordan’s first original screenplay in over a decade carries echoes of his 1984 fantasy The Company of Wolves. It’s moody, deliberate and overlong but is also full tenderness and soulful charm, Ondine is undoubtedly a film out of its time. Farrell is excellent as usual and Christopher Doyle’s rugged and gloomy cinematography offers a fine counterpoint to the fairy wing lightness of the plot. General release from Fri 5 Mar. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (U) 91min ●●●●● Digital re- release of Howard Hawks’ much- loved 1953 comedy musical starring Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell. Filmhouse, Edinburgh, Fri 5–Sun 14 Mar; GFT, Glasgow, Sun 14–Tue 16 Mar. Letter from an Unknown Woman (U) 86min ●●●●● New 35mm print of Max Orphuls’ great 1948 romantic tragedy starring Joan Fontaine and Louis Jordan. The best film you will see anywhere this fortnight. Filmhouse, Edinburgh, Fri 12–Thu 18 Mar. I Love You Phillip Morris (15) 97min ●●●●● Demented comedy based on a true story from writers of Bad Santa, Glenn Ficarra and John Requa about a gay con man, his prison squeeze and his inexhaustible appetite for scheming. This uneven and madcap but undeniably dark and entertaining gay love story is by far the best work leads Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor have done for years. General release from Wed 17 Mar. The Bounty Hunter (tbc) tbcmin (unable to review at press time) Comedy starring Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler. This film will be reviewed at www.list.co.uk soon. General release from Wed 17 Mar.