Two Days, One Night
After the disappointment of The Immigrant, Marion Cotillard redeems herself totally in the Dardennes Brothers’ searingly realist drama. Unusually for our predictable art-house fare, this one is set in working class Belgium, and Cotillard plays Sandra, a lowly paid factory worker in a solar panel plant.
Her bosses have her placed in a shockingly invidious position, and for anyone used to union protection or even our workplace laws, a situation like this must seem appalling. But get used to it, it’s our (union-less) future. In order to get a much-needed Christmas bonus, one worker (Sandra) is to be laid off. She can keep her job only if the others agree to forgo that money. Filled with despair and self-doubt, she struggles to find the courage necessary to act. Then falteringly, with the help of her husband, over the period of the movie’s title, she visits her co-workers at home – and asks.
We yearn for a happy outcome to this seemingly impossible quest. And the brilliance of this superbly acted and nail-bitingly tense film is that we do get one. But it’s not the one we wanted.
M from Nov 6.
Finally, Gone Girl is fading at the box office… But just in time for fans of tough and knotty mysteries, along comes another claustrophobic thriller, full of twists and traps for both the characters and us.
Dennis Lehanee (Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone) wrote it, so you know the drill – you’re in for something hard-boiled and salty. Tom Hardy and James Gandolfini star as two old-school Brooklyn hoods – the sort of lowlifes who gave that NY borough its “character.”
Mind you, that was way before today’s effete bearded hipsters took it over.
MA15+ from Nov 13.
Rhys Graham’s accomplished coming-of-age debut didn’t get the attention it deserved earlier this year. Yes it may have been difficult for some ABC critics of a certain age (you know who I mean) to understand. But something so gorgeous to look at, so lyrical and engagingly populist surely deserves respect.
Comparisons to Somersault are inevitable, if only for its teen sexual awakening plot. Which focuses on Billie (Puberty Blues’ Ashleigh Cummings) – crazy in love, sleeping with her best friend’s (Lily Sullivan) boyfriend, and confused as hell about the stray Islander boy her social worker mum has brought into their home to help.
Book-ended by the fires that ravaged the Canberra region a few years ago, shimmering heat, distant smoke and sirens are a constant presence, an ominous signal to a possible climax to Billie’s emotional turmoil. Yes a tragedy does come, but not the one we expect.
This is a powerful, beautifully realised film of loss, betrayal and love.
MA15+ On DVD and digital from Nov 5.
Thanks to EntertainmentOne Australia we have five DVDs to give away.
The Berlin File (DVD)
This tense, stylish and very muscular spy thriller from Ryoo Seung-wan shows why Korean films are fast gaining a dedicated audience, even amongst the hard-to-please art-house crowd.
Set in a gritty Cold War-like Berlin, comparisons with le Carre are not out of place, though typically, there’s way more viciousness and extravagant gunplay than George Smiley could ever have stomached. Ha Jung-woo plays a dedicated North Korean infiltrator, cast out into the cold after an illicit arms deal goes wrong. Suddenly agents from the North, the South, the CIA (and even Mossad) are all in pursuit of him and his pregnant wife – and even her loyalties are in somewhat in doubt.
The pace is frantic, the dialogue hard-edged, Berlin is fantastically foreboding and the action exhilarating.
MA15+ On Blu-ray, DVD and digital from Nov 9.
Thanks to Icon Home Entertainment we have 5 DVDs to give away.
Reviews – Russell Edwards