DRAMA THE KREUTZER SONATA (18) 99min ●●●●● CRIME/COMEDY PERRIER’S BOUNTY (15) 88min ●●●●●
After an accidental shooting, charismatic Dublin gangster Michael McCrea (Cillian Murphy) goes on the run with his fey neighbour Brenda (Jodie Whittaker) and his coke- snorting, hypochondriac father Jim (Jim Broadbent). Together they have to dodge not only the local police, but also the gay hitmen loyal to local gangster Perrier (Brendan Gleeson) who has put a bounty on their heads. Despite strong work scripting
Intermission and Boy A, screenwriter Mark O’Rowe indulges in long stretches of shameless cod-Tarantino riffing that fall well short of Martin McDonagh’s pithy script for In Bruges (an obvious benchmark here). None of the banter works, largely because director Ian Fitzgibbon’s thriller offers only the most rudimentary plot, and little sense of location, with London doubling for Dublin.
The result is a wearisomely obvious chase comedy, so carelessly considered that our heroes are allowed to drive around blithely in a stolen police car. Murphy certainly has charisma to burn, but it’s not enough to keep Perrier’s Bounty afloat. (Eddie Harrison) ■ General release from Fri 26 Mar.
SUPERHERO/COMEDY KICK-ASS (15) 117min ●●●●●
Matthew Vaughn’s adaptation of Mark Millar’s comic book series is a hilarious, hip twist on the superhero genre. Gone are the superpowers, the 100 inch chests and holier than thou attitude. Instead our hero is an awkward teenager, Dave Lizewski (Rising Brit star Aaron Johnson), who decides to don tights and fight crime just because he thinks it’s cool and, more importantly, it might impress a girl. The desire to be a superhero and escape the humdrum of everyday
existence was a feature of 1999’s disappointing Mystery Men, and director Vaughn, to his credit, recognises that the concept alone, (funny as it is) is not enough to carry the movie. So he gives our protagonist and his school chums a brash misplaced attitude that’s airlifted from Greg Mottola’s Superbad, a point that is emphasized by the casting of Christopher ‘McLovin’ Mintz-Plasse as the son of the villainous crime boss (Mark Strong) with a desperate desire to one day take over dad’s criminal empire.
These are not even the best characters, that particular accolade has to go to Nicolas Cage (who, with this and Werner Herzog’s forthcoming Bad Lieutenant, is enjoying something of a mid-career renaissance) who plays a false moustache-wearing ex-cop training his daughter up to fight crime. It’s Cage in Raising Arizona mode, while 13-year-old actress Chloe Moretz is the best assassin prodigy since Nathalie Portman in Leon. Successfully celebrating a teen boys idea of ‘cool’, Vaughn has a feeling
for characters and story arcs that his Lock, Stock . . . collaborator Guy Ritchie has long since forgotten. Quite frankly, Vaughn kicks ass. (Kaleem Aftab) ■ General release from Wed 31 Mar. See feature, page 22.
Having discarded cumbersome period trappings for his superb, stripped down, contemporary Los Angeles-set Tolstoy adaptation Ivansxtc, writer/director Bernard Rose does the same with another story by the Russian master, the second in a planned trilogy. Danny Huston, who got his acting break in the previous film, plays a wealthy Beverly Hills resident whose jealousy of his trophy wife (Elisabeth Röhm) drives him insane. Having ended her promising career as a concert pianist by marrying her, Hudson attempts to make amends by partnering her with a talented young violinist to play Beethoven’s titular duet at a charity fundraiser, only to find himself increasingly suspicious of Abby’s infidelity with the young musician.
Rose’s film doesn’t have anything particularly new to say about the corrosive nature of jealousy, but Tolstoy’s timeless tale of a hell of one’s own making does fit neatly into the shallow, self-indulgent world of LA’s super-rich. The somewhat schematic flashback narrative structure leaves little room for doubt as to where the plot’s headed, although that’s sort of the point. Otherwise, it’s competently put together and boasts another fine performance from Huston. And the music is, ahem, to die for. (Miles Fielder) ■ Filmhouse, Edinburgh and selected release from Fri 26 Mar. See feature, page 42.
DRAMA TRUCKER (15) 92min ●●●●●
An interesting little drama that’s light on incident but big on character, Trucker is a welcome showcase for the acting talents of Michelle Monaghan. Having been a solid support player in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Gone Baby Gone, here Monaghan takes centre stage as Diane, the eponymous long distance big-rig driver who, much like Clooney’s Ryan Bingham in Up in the Air, is a professional loner, wanting nothing more than to live life her own way, doing whatever with whomever she chooses. Diane is considerably lower on the pay scale than Bingham though, and when the son that she openly walked out on 10 years earlier is forced back into her life, her independent existence is completely shaken.
Even given the unlikelihood of there ever being a real-life trucker anywhere near as gorgeous as her, Monaghan is utterly convincing in the part. First time filmmaker James Mottern also deserves praise for so successfully inverting Hollywood gender norms. While Diane is the film’s foul-mouthed, foul-tempered centre, it is the men in the story who bring the traditionally ‘feminine’ warmth and concern, with Serenity’s Nathan Fillion particularly good as the drinking buddy who longs to get closer. (Paul Gallagher) ■ GFT, Glasgow from Sun 21–Wed 24 Mar.
44 THE LIST 18 Mar–1 Apr 2010