Times 2 - UK (2020-10-16)

(Antfer) #1

8 1GT Friday October 16 2020 | the times

film reviews


Thunberg, of course, is a polarising
figure, but this film is no rose-tinted
panegyric. Instead it simply follows the
progress of her activism and coolly
illustrates three illuminating truths.

  1. She writes her own speeches, and
    indeed is filmed chastising her father,
    Svante, when he tries to help. 2. She is
    physically and psychologically
    vulnerable, and not deserving of the
    scorn heaped upon her, and at several
    points in the film is shown wrestling
    with the impact of her Asperger’s and
    how it affects everything she does
    (can’t do small talk, sometimes freezes

into long silences and forgets or else
refuses to eat). And 3. Politicians are
just awful. Emmanuel Macron is
shown to be a patronising dweeb
(staring at her and giggling), Jean-
Claude Juncker a self-regarding
hypocrite (pretends to be interested,
but brushes her aside) and John
Bercow a dealer in platitudes (says to
her: “You must do what’s right!”).
The film probably won’t win
Thunberg any converts, but her
commitment and her jaw-dropping
bravery are never in doubt.
In cinemas

I Am Greta
12A, 102min


n astonishing,
almost biblical
image opens this
about a year in
the life of the
teenage eco-warrior Greta Thunberg.
It’s mid-August 2019, and Thunberg
is sitting patiently, exposed to the
elements, at the stern of the racing
yacht Malizia II, somewhere in the
North Atlantic. An ocean storm rages,
with mountainous grey waves of
terrifying proportions, threatening
to upend the boat at any minute.
Imagine George Clooney at the
climax of The Perfect Storm, but
with a 16-year-old Swedish girl in
his place.
Thunberg is making the voyage
from Plymouth to New York for the
UN Climate Action Summit because
she refuses to fly. It seemed like a stunt
at the time, but as the footage
captured by the director Nathan
Grossman (also on the yacht) reveals,
the trip was harrowing and reduced
Thunberg to a state of despair.
At one point, in a moment that
has echoes of the Christian
Gethsemane struggle (“Father, if
you are willing, take this cup from
me”), she cries aloud; “It’s such a
responsibility. I don’t want to have to
do all this. It’s too much for me.” Yet
on she goes. To New York, to the UN,
and to the “How dare you” speech.

Get to know Greta better in a

story with religious overtones

This documentary

about the child

activist reveals her

force and fragility,

says Kevin Maher

Greta Thunberg in I Am Greta, which shows up politicians for their bizarre responses to her

Boyhood meets The Shawshank
Redemption in this epic yet intimate
documentary about the impact of
prison life on the families left behind.
The star subject is the mother-of-six,
New Orleans businesswoman and
irrepressible activist Fox Rich, who, as
the film begins, a grainy video diary
from 1997, is facing a life without her
husband, Robert, sentenced to
60 years in the Louisiana State
Penitentiary for robbing a bank.
Robert, Fox freely admits, is guilty of
the crime. This isn’t a crusading film.
Instead, through decades of footage
the director Garrett Bradley reveals
the progress of a family who succeed
despite deprivation (the children are
high-achievers), yet are wounded by
the prominent loss in their lives.
Eventual talk of parole and an early
release for Robert delivers oodles of
dramatic tension. The finale is
savagely moving. Tears will flow. KM

Body of Water
15, 92min

Unfolding as a gritty riposte to the
sudsy Netflix teenage movie To the
Bone, this low-budget homegrown
drama about anorexia takes a boldly
unflinching approach to its subject.
Focusing on Essex mum Stephanie
(a brave, skeletal Sian Brooke), newly
returned from an eating disorders
clinic, it depicts her daily struggle
to reconnect with icy mother Susan
(Amanda Burton) and resentful
daughter Pearl (Fabienne Piolini-
Castle) as one that is intertwined with
the sheer hell of eating. Scenes of
Stephanie alone at the table, choking
down apple slices, are harrowing.
The film’s tough portrayal of eating
disorders is its trump and, alas, only
card. The drama around it is clunky
and uneven, the writing juvenile and
the performances very shaky indeed.
Some of the “confrontational” scenes
between Burton, Brooke and Piolini-
Castle are almost unwatchable. KM
In cinemas

15, 92min

Over the Moon
U, 95min

This final film from the screenwriter
Audrey Wells (The Hate U Give), who
died of cancer in 2018, is a vivid kids’
animation that opens strongly with an
upbeat musical number followed by a
wordless montage about grief.
In rural China, the life of young Fei
Fei (Cathy Ang) is altered for ever
when her beloved mother (Ruthie Ann
Miles) becomes weak, then ill, then
dies (shades of Pixar’s Up). What
follows, however, is a psychedelic
70-minute moon trip (Fei Fei wants
to meet the ancient moon queen),
courtesy of two magical lions who
beam our diminutive heroine up into
space (don’t ask).
It’s a madcap adventure that
becomes, scene after fantastical scene,
profoundly unengaging. On the moon
Fei Fei meets some luminous biker
chickens, myriad balloon people and
a friendly dog-lizard called Gobi (Ken

Jeong). They mostly sing and dance to
the electronic house music of Queen
Chang’e (Phillipa Soo from Hamilton).
It’s like an extended version of the
Pink Elephants on Parade sequence
from Dumbo. But without the fun. KM
In cinemas from today and on Netflix
from October 23

A vampire story in spirit only, this
clever and deliberately low-key
adaptation of Sheridan Le Fanu’s
garish gothic novella (no shapeshifting
beasts and midnight tombs here)
is a study in moral ambiguity and
19th-century religious hypocrisy.
Jessica Raine stars as Miss
Fontaine, a God-fearing governess to
curious teenager Lara (Hannah Rae)
in a creepy crucifix-filled mansion
in rural England. Lara’s life becomes
considerably spicier when, on the
archetypal “dark and stormy night”,
an unconscious attractive young
woman, Carmilla (Devrim Lingnau,
right with Rae), is rescued from a
carriage crash and deposited in the
adjacent bedroom.
The pair become friends, tricksters
and, secretly, lovers. Yet Lara’s
growing interest in human anatomy
(she sneaks books from the library)

combined with the discovery of some
Satanic lithographs near the crash site
triggers a hysterical blood-thirsty
witch hunt. An exorcism is ordered,
Lara becomes ill, blood is consumed,
and the film deftly dances a line
between an acknowledgment of
the supernatural and a disavowal of
the same. It’s so deft, in fact, that
sometimes it’s a bit dull. KM
In cinemas
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