list.co.uk/ﬁ lm REVIEWS | FILM
DRAMA DISOBEDIENCE (15) 114min ●●●●●
CRIME BIOPIC THE OLD MAN & THE GUN (TBC) 93min ●●●●● COMEDY SORRY TO BOTHER YOU (15) 112min ●●●●●
Sebastián Lelio’s latest tale of female liberation – following A Fantastic Woman and Gloria – is a tonally muted portrait of a cloistered community, based on Naomi Alderman’s novel. After the flamboyance that preceded it, Lelio’s first English-language film is comparatively dour but, thanks to the subtle and striking work of its leads, remains largely engaging.
New York-based photographer Ronit (Rachel
Weisz) is the only child of a giant of the Orthodox Jewish faith (Anton Lesser). Called back to her Hendon home upon his death, Ronit is startled to find her teenage lover Esti (Rachel McAdams) enduring a stifled existence as wife to her father’s prodigy Dovid (Alessandro Nivola). Danny Cohen’s claustrophobic cinematography emphasises the challenge of living within a close- knit, watchful flock, while the washed-out palette reflects Ronit’s cool reception, the community’s pious existence and the chill of grief.
Weisz, McAdams and Nivola beautifully capture
the complexity and contradictions of their characters and, while Disobedience lacks overt power, there are pleasures in the minor details. However, it feels less sure as it wears on, culminating in an ending that’s as clumsy as it is cathartic. (Emma Simmonds) ■ General release from Fri 30 Nov.
David Lowery’s latest, The Old Man & the Gun, is the story of real-life ‘gentleman’ bank robber Forrest Tucker, a career-criminal and perpetual prison escapee. It’s a film that is less a traditional biopic and more an unabashed nod to American crime films of the 1970s, like The Friends of Eddie Coyle and Prime Cut. It’s also a tribute to its star, Robert Redford. If this is – as Redford says it will be – his final film, then the actor is ending on a fitting note. Tucker sits neatly alongside Redford’s other characters, as if Lowery’s film was a perfect summation of one of Hollywood’s great careers.
Set in the twilight of his robbing days, Tucker never uses a gun and is almost polite in his stick-ups, which are conducted with two felon friends (Tom Waits and Danny Glover). On his tail is Texas lawman John Hunt (Lowery regular Casey Affleck), while Jewel (Sissy Spacek), a farm widow he takes a shine to, offers a chance for love, redemption and another way of life.
Lovingly rendered by Joe Anderson’s grainy cinematography, there’s tremendous skill in evidence here and, with Redford in such a playful mood, it’s hard to resist Tucker or his exploits. Frankly, it’d be a crime to miss this. (James Mottram) ■ General release from Fri 7 Dec.
Musician-activist turned filmmaker Boots Riley’s feature debut is a breathless, widely inventive anti- capitalist tirade as strident as it is comical. It also bites off way more than it can chew but it is so full of attitude and anarchy that resistance seems futile. Riley makes the most of rising star Lakeith
Stanfield, who oozes empathy as downtrodden drudge Cassius Green. His chance at economic salvation comes with a new job at a soulless call centre where fellow telemarketer Langston (Danny Glover) advises him to 'use your white voice'. The ploy works, marking Cassius out as a star employee and placing him within touching distance of becoming a PC (Power Caller). Will he buy into the system, sell his soul and risk losing his performance artist-activist girlfriend Detroit (Tessa Thompson)? Sorry To Bother You is brash and unruly but offers some sharp commentary on race, power, corporate greed and a working environment that feels like modern day slavery. It is frequently funny, but runs out of steam about two-thirds of the way through, turning increasingly absurdist and revealing the inexperience of a filmmaker who, nevertheless, is a striking new voice in American cinema. (Allan Hunter) ■ General release from Fri 7 Dec.
DRAMA ROMA (TBC) 135min ●●●●●
Alfonso Cuarón’s Venice Golden Lion winner ROMA is an exquisitely crafted love letter to the people and places that populated his youth. Shot on 65mm in black and white, it has an epic grandeur matched with a quiet intimacy that turns its attention to the life of a middle class family and their loyal servant Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio). Set in the Roma district of Mexico City over 1970 and 1971, it draws the viewer into the domestic upheavals of Cleo, her employer Sofía (Marina de Tavira) and a brood of boisterous young children, while also acknowledging tumultuous times in the life of the country. A shopping trip stumbles into the heart of the Corpus Christi massacre, an earthquake strikes in a hospital neonatal unit, forest fires erupt during a New Year’s celebration. There is the sense of a clear and present danger all around. Clinging to each other may be the only way to survive.
Cuarón’s narrative unfolds as a cinematic scrapbook of memories, concentrating on the squabbles between bickering children, trips to the cinema to see Marooned and La Grande Vadrouille and the prolonged absence of a father who is said to be in Canada at a conference. Cleo discovers that she is pregnant by a man with no sense of loyalty to her and Sofía is as supportive and caring as she can be. Cleo may cook, clean, babysit and meet every other whim of the family but she is almost one of them. Thoroughly absorbing and gently touching, ROMA opens a window into the past and has the feel of an Italian neo-realist classic. In Cuarón’s melancholy reflections on lost times, the men cause the trouble and the women endure, nurture and accept the necessity of keeping calm and carrying on. (Allan Hunter) ■ Available on Netflix and on selected cinematic release from Fri 14 Dec.
1 Nov 2018–31 Jan 2019 THE LIST 95