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The Whistle­blower

(MA15+) Wed­nes­day, 8.30pm, Thriller

(PG) Thurs­day, 10.10am, Ro­mance

(M) Satur­day, 8.30pm, Fox Clas­sics

Lars & the Real Girl

Kings Row

TAIWANESE di­rec­tor Ang Lee has scarcely put a foot wrong in a long ca­reer. Wit­ness master­pieces such as The Ice Storm, Sense and Sen­si­bil­ity, Broke­back Moun­tain and Crouch­ing Tiger, Hid­den Dragon. No two of his films are alike.

(Satur­day, 6.20pm, Mas­ter­piece) won him his sec­ond di­rect­ing Os­car two years ago and was a huge in­ter­na­tional hit. Its story of a boy (Su­raj Sharma) who spends 227 days stranded at sea in a dis­abled sail­ing boat in the com­pany of a fully grown Ben­gal tiger is over­long and lit­tle weari­some at times, and I was never sure whether the events are meant to be real or al­le­gor­i­cal. But the spe­cial ef­fects are won­drous

Life of Pi

to be­hold, and the (dig­i­tally gen­er­ated) tiger is no less lik­able than his flesh-and-blood com­pan­ion.

Is it pos­si­ble to fall in love with an ar­ti­fi­cial cre­ation, an im­age of one’s own mak­ing? Hol­ly­wood has al­ways thought so. When I first read of Her, this year’s film about a man who falls for a com­put­erised voice, my first thought was of

(Thurs­day, 10.10am, Ro­mance), di­rected by Aus­tralian-born Craig Gillespie. Lars (Ryan Gosling) is a small-town of­fice-worker, too shy to make friends, who falls for a life-sized sil­i­con sex-doll or­dered on the in­ter­net. Bianca, as he calls her, is con­fined to a wheel­chair, her un­ex­plained disability im­pos­ing the same so­cial con­straints as those en­dured by Lars through his patho­log­i­cal shy­ness.

Can this odd cou­ple make a happy pair? And how will Bianca be treated in this small, in­su­lar com­mu­nity? A sym­pa­thetic doc­tor (Pa­tri­cia Clark­son) ad­vises ev­ery­one to play along with Lars’s delu­sion, and his fi­nal de­liv­er­ance proves won­der­fully strange and mov­ing. It’s feel-good ro­man­tic fan­tasy of the best kind.

In (Wed­nes­day, 8.30pm,

Lars & the Real Girl

The Whistle­blower

Thriller), the ex­cel­lent Rachel Weisz is Kathryn Bolko­vac, an Amer­i­can cop who joins a peace­keep­ing mis­sion in Bos­nia in the 1990s and un­cov­ers a shock­ing sex-traf­fick­ing racket in which UN work­ers are im­pli­cated.

It’s a largely true story, told with ur­gency and con­vic­tion in Larysa Kon­dracki’s com­pelling thriller. Vanessa Red­grave brings a quiet moral author­ity to the role of Madeleine Rees, a sym­pa­thetic UN diplo­mat, and David Strathairn is con­vinc­ing, as al­ways, as Kathryn’s friend and col­league. But it’s a good rule in this sort of film never to trust one’s su­pe­ri­ors.

(Satur­day, 8.30pm, Fox Clas­sics), one of the great Hol­ly­wood melo­dra­mas, is a tale of sleaze and moral de­prav­ity be­hind the white picket fences of a small Amer­i­can mid­west­ern town in the years af­ter World War I, and re­mark­ably dar­ing for its time (1942).

Erich Korn­gold wrote one of his finest scores, and the young Ron­ald Rea­gan ut­ters the im­mor­tal line “Where’s the rest of me?” — to be found in ev­ery an­thol­ogy of fa­mous movie quotes.

Kings Row

April 26-27, 2014

Su­raj Sharma in

Life of Pi

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