(15A) stars Clare Dunne as Sandra, a young Irish woman who breaks off an abusive relationship with her husband Gary (Ian Lloyd Anderson) to start a new life with daughters Molly (Molly McCann) and Emma (Ruby Rose) O’Hara).
As the overheated Irish property market spirals out of control (again) and unable to find affordable housing, Sandra has a belated revelation: What if she builds her own house?
The synopsis for Phyllida Lloyd’s film, written by Dunne and Malcolm Campbell, makes it sound like a feature-length version of Grand Designs et al, but it’s a heartbreaking emotional drama that establishes its ambitions with a first scene from shocking violence. . Sandra doesn’t just build a house because she can’t afford a prefabricated one: she builds a house with her own hands, a safe place where she and her daughters will be safe from Gary. and all the Garys of this world.
As his friends and colleagues gather and a motley group of amateur construction workers lend their dubious talents to the barn-raising cause, the film successfully expands its central metaphor to talk about the power of community and of what can be achieved when so-called ordinary people come together to assume the powers that be.
There are a number of charming performances here – Conleth Hill is particularly good as a reluctant Aido entrepreneur – but Clare Dunne outshines them all, delivering a performance that brilliantly mixes an irrepressible bloody spirit with heartbreaking vulnerability. (cinema release)
It’s a shame the marketers haven’t campaigned a little harder for Aretha Franklin’s new biopic to be called RESPECT !, because Liesl Tommy’s film is so much more dynamic than the simple one.(12A) suggests.
Despite being born into a well-to-do, middle-class family and surrounded from an early age by some of America’s best jazz artists, young Aretha Franklin (Skye Dakota Turner) had a traumatic childhood. Dominated by the men in her life, and especially her bossy father CL (Forest Whitaker) and abusive husband Ted (Marlon Wayans), Aretha (now played by Jennifer Hudson) grew up with a gender-defining voice and no idea the kind of songs she wanted to sing.
Tracey Scott Wilson’s screenplay focuses on Aretha’s formative years as an artist and her journey towards merging her first musical love – gospel – with the idioms of jazz and soul, which includes digressions fascinating about Aretha’s relationship with producers John Hammond (Tate Donovan) and Jerry Wexler (Marc Maron) and the Muscle Shoals collective who ultimately provided her with the musical support she had always dreamed of.
More aptly, perhaps, the film delves deeply into the extent to which Aretha’s music was both personal and political: while she was involved in the civil rights movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King (Gilbert Glenn Young) from a young age, it was not until she began singing about her own experience of surviving the physical and emotional cruelty perpetrated by the men in her life that Aretha finally broke connected to a large audience.
Liesl Tommy expertly curates a nice ensemble cast, but Jennifer Hudson is the focus of the whole movie, delivering a remarkable twist in which she not only gets under Aretha Franklin’s skin, but also delivers a fantastic vocal performance. . (cinema release)
It’s quite the week for strong female models. In a parallel universe,(16s) is a story about runaway mafia fixer Teddy Murretto (Frank Grillo) and his pursuer, hitman Bob Viddick (Gerard Butler), and which begins with Teddy being arrested in the town of Gun Creek in the Nevada in order to escape Bob, only for Bob to be arrested as well, and immediately begins planning the best way to assassinate Teddy from his nearby jail cell.
Between them, however, is Police Officer Valerie Young (Alexis Louder), whose tolerance for bullshit is precisely what you would expect from a young lady who packs an old-fashioned six-gun for her. official police weapon.
As Teddy and Bob lick, threaten and cuddle from opposite ends of the cell block, Valerie – arguably the coolest movie cop since Steve McQueen’s Frank Bullitt – deflates their egos at every opportunity; and once the inevitable violence and chaos erupts, Valerie is no slouch.
Gerard Butler and Frank Grillo bring their fair share of threat, of course, and there’s a hilarious black spin from Toby Huss too, but Louder doesn’t steal the movie so much as he pulls off a one-woman heist, in the process of transforming what might otherwise have been a stereotypical thriller into a quirky and absorbing neo-western, with Clinton Shorter’s soul-funk score an added bonus. (cinema release)