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.