list.co.uk/ﬁ lm Reviews | FILM
S E M L F E N A L L U G © O T O H P
BIOPIC – ADVENTURE A WALK IN THE WOODS (15) 104min ●●●●● COMEDY DRAMA THE SECOND MOTHER (15) 112min ●●●●●
ACTION NO ESCAPE (15) 103min ●●●●●
Trekking to enlightenment seems to be turning into a sub-genre: Tracks, Wild, and now one for the wrinklies, from director Ken Kwapis, in which Robert Redford and Nick Nolte lace up the hiking boots and hit the great outdoors. Redford plays Bill Bryson, although the author was in his 40s when he took on the famous Appalachian Trail. For those of us who still find Redford good company that’s okay. In this version, his anxious wife (Emma Thompson) won’t let him go unless he has a companion. Enter Stephen Katz (Nolte), the schoolmate with whom the young Bryson backpacked around Europe. While Bryson is fit, reflective and sarcastic, Katz is a fat, unhealthily florid slob and recovering alcoholic who doesn’t look like he could walk to the corner.
It’s amiable stuff, with the interplay between its stars engaging, but it isn’t eventful enough to qualify as a thigh-slapping misadventure or journey to redemption. There’s a slightly scary bear, a very scary trekker chick, a scarier still, amorous motel manager (Mary Steenburgen) and the odd brush- with-death, but it comes down to two guys walking, talking and testing themselves to amusingly modest limits. (Angie Errigo) ■ General release from Fri 18 Sep.
Brazil’s class system is scrutinised and satirised in this hugely charming film from Anna Muylaert that focuses on Val (brilliantly played by Regina Casé), the indispensable housekeeper of a wealthy family, who’s like a second mother to Fabinho (Michel Joelsas). His biological mother (Karine Teles) is aloof and clueless, with the needy Fabinho soaking up Val’s attention like a sponge. The kicker is that she’s abandoned her own family to care for theirs and, when her estranged daughter Jéssica (Camila Márdila) comes to stay, this disobedient, questioning young woman shakes things up by refusing to play by the established rules, or stay in ‘her place’. Her mischief exposes the hypocrisies of the household and forces Val to confront her own blind acceptance of the status quo. It’s a terrifically effective premise, allowing for great humour and pin-sharp, yet light- touch social commentary, while Val is a character to cherish. This wonderful film recalls the middle- aged misbehaviour of Gloria and The Maid, and there’s a touch of Pedro Almodóvar as it thrills in gossip, borderline caricatures and domestic drama; it’s a work of great warmth, formidable insight and infectious rebellion. (Emma Simmonds) ■ Selected release from Fri 4 Sep.
When he takes a new job in Asia, Jack Dwyer (Owen Wilson) expects it will be the start of a happy new life for himself, wife Annie (Lake Bell) and their young daughters. Such optimism is violently dashed when the family find themselves in the middle of a coup. The premise brings with it a degree of hope that co-writing brothers Drew and John Erick Dowdle (the latter also directs) have attempted to inject this end-of-summer actioner with brains, as well as brawn. Such hope is short-lived, with any political commentary rendered toothless by the fact that the whole thing plays out in an unnamed country, and the civil uprising is explored no further than the threat to an American family.
Wilson brings his everyman charm and Bell takes the action in her stride; Pierce Brosnan has tremendous fun hamming it up as a cockney tough guy who helps the Dwyers, but the wild veering of tone between his scenery-chewing, their desperate predicament and the often brutal violence is disorienting. And, despite the film’s exotic location and political pretensions, there’s no escaping the fact that this is a standard fish-out-of-water tale; albeit one taken to extremes. (Nikki Baughan) ■ General release from Fri 4 Sep.
SCI-FI COMEDY THE LOBSTER (15) 118min ●●●●●
As Pat Benatar so wisely observed in the 80s, love is a battlefield or, in the case of Greek ‘Weird Wave’ director Yorgos Lanthimos’ English-language debut, it is a bizarre hunting ground with a strict code of conduct. This surreal black comedy, which takes on dehumanisation and lack of spontaneity in the online dating age, as well as the pressure to couple up, is truly idiosyncratic.
In a dystopian near-future where being in a relationship
has become compulsory, the recently dumped David (a moustachioed and brilliant Colin Farrell) checks into a hotel where he must find a mate within 45 days, or be transformed into an animal of his choosing and released into the wilderness. Employing the deadpan style we’ve come to expect from Lanthimos (the man behind Dogtooth and Alps), the director gifts his stellar cast – including Ben Whishaw and John C Reilly – dialogue that could be cribbed straight from the profiles of people registered to many a dating site. Olivia Colman appears as the humourless head of this romantic purgatory, completely stealing the show with a rendition of Gene Pitney’s ‘Something’s Gotten Hold of My Heart’ in the style of hellish British holiday camp entertainment. David’s story gets progressively darker when he enters the
world of the Loners – woodland-dwelling singleton transgressors who are hunted by the hotel guests – led by a fantastic Leá Seydoux. The final act comes with a shift in tone which forgoes the hilarious one-liners in favour of emotional heft and introduces Rachel Weisz’s affecting ‘Short Sighted Woman’. The Lobster is as weird and wonderful as it sounds and will make you think twice before asking the dreaded question, ‘Are you still single?’ (Katherine McLaughlin) ■ General release from Fri 16 Oct.
3 Sep–5 Nov 2015 THE LIST 63
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