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The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - DON­ALD CLARKE DON­ALD CLARKE

her­self) to land a job as Ha­vana’s per­sonal as­sis­tant. Will Agatha use her po­si­tion to come after her fam­ily? And do they de­serve what’s com­ing to them?

Work­ing from a scathing screen­play by Bruce Wag­ner, David Cro­nen­berg’s de­pic­tion of nar­cis­sis­tic Hol­ly­wood pulls no punches. Even Robert Pat­ti­son’s rel­a­tively neu­tral chauf­feur and wannabe ac­tor turns out to be a mon­u­men­tal jerk.

But Maps to the Stars is some­thing more than a bit­ing satire in the style of The Player. The cru­ellest pro­nounce­ments are de­liv­ered in dead­ened may ar­gue that the late dis­cov­ery of a hith­erto un­seen character is a bit of a cheat, but that trick­ery does al­low Virzì to sideswipe care­fully built-up as­sump­tions. At any rate, the film is as much a so­cial satire as a mys­tery story and, in that area, it works very well in­deed.

Hu­man Cap­i­tal, whose ti­tle is drawn from the world of in­surance, is sick­ened and dizzied by the in­equal­ity and reck­less­ness that char­ac­terises mod­ern com­merce. The weak So-Cal pat­terns. The most un­for­giv­able ac­tions are care­less con­se­quences trig­gered by self-re­gard. The hazy cin­e­matog­ra­phy and an en­tropic tone make the viewer feel that they’re drugged up on one of Ha­vana’s lengthy phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal shop­ping lists.

There are splashes – and that is the right word – of the vis­ceral Cro­nen­berg we’ve come to know and love. But cin­e­matog­ra­pher Peter Sus­chitzky’s glossy fug and all that ugly beauty makes it im­pos­si­ble not to think of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks on Am­bien. Re­pug­nant in the best sense. are mis­used. The strong pre­vail. Un­scrupu­lous­ness brings its own sor­did re­wards.

The bad­dies have fun with their roles, Gi­oli is charis­matic, but the most in­ter­est­ing per­for­mance comes from the gifted Bruni-Tedeschi (sis­ter to Carla Bruni). Celia is in­clined to­wards virtue, but hasn’t quite got the courage to fight against her hus­band’s tyranny. She’s not a hero. She’s not quite a coward. She’s like most of the rest of us. WHATWE DID ON OUR HOL­I­DAY Di­rected by Andy Hamil­ton, Guy Jenkin. Star­ring David Ten­nant, Rosamund Pike, Billy Connolly, Celia Im­rie, Ben Miller, An­nette Cros­bie. 12A cert, gen re­lease, 95 min You de­serve some sort of hon­our if, as a cre­ator of com­edy, you de­vise a tech­nique so solid that it can trans­late from TV to film with­out los­ing any of its per­son­al­ity. Andy Hamil­ton and Guy Jenkin, cre­ators of Out­num­bered, have in­vented new char­ac­ters for their first fea­ture, but it is un­mis­tak­ably a horse from the same sta­ble.

What We Did on Our Hol­i­days stars Rosamund Pike and David Ten­nant as a rapidly dis­solv­ing cou­ple who, for the sake of Dave’s dy­ing dad (Billy Connolly), elect to pre­tend they are still hap­pily en­twined while vis­it­ing the old geezer in the Scot­tish High­lands. Yet it would take only a few seconds for any Out­num­bered fan to

Pre­tenders: David Ten­nant and Rosamund Pike

iden­tify Hamil­ton and Jenkin’s fin­ger­prints.

The film takes in quite a bit of plot: David’s brother (Ben Miller) is a striv­ing so­cial climber; his sis­ter-in-law has metal health is­sues; Billy’s birth­day party gets dis­turbed by an un­likely dis­as­ter. But the film is re­ally about the amus­ing in­ter­ac­tions be­tween the adults and the cou­ple’s cheeky, pre­co­cious chil­dren. As in the se­ries, the grownups’ lines are nailed down, whereas the kids get to im­pro­vise their way to­wards off-cen­tre nut­ti­ness. The re­sult is a sort of mi­nor mar­vel: ev­ery­thing about the for­mula prom­ises gluti­nous in­dul­gence – a com­pi­la­tion of tweets re­lat­ing the al­legedly funny things your aw­ful child says – but, some­how or other, Hamil­ton and Jenkin al­low rough edges to show through. The chil­dren have an emo­tional ruth­less­ness their par­ents can’t quite ri­val.

So, What We Did on Our Hol­i­day passes the time hap­pily enough. It is more sen­ti­men­tal and more con­trived than Out­num­bered: char­ac­ters will in­sist on chang­ing and em­bark­ing on bet­ter lives. The vi­su­als are flat and util­i­tar­ian. But the fa­cil­ity and charm of the piece can’t be doubted.

Of up­com­ing films in which Rosamund Pike falls out with her hus­band, it cer­tainly of­fers more laughs than Gone Girl.

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