A right royal bore

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

ten-com­plex ac­tion. Va­len­tyn Vasyanovych’s ex­tra­or­di­nary cin­e­matog­ra­phy should not be over­looked: the lo­gis­ti­cal com­pli­ca­tions alone would jus­tify a hat­ful of awards.

The Tribe is a shock­ing film. At times, the vi­o­lence is as rem­i­nis­cent of A Clock­work Or­ange as it is of any pre­vi­ous high-school movie. Grig­oriy’s story has grim lessons about the way cor­rup­tion breeds cor­rup­tion. But the bril­liance of the per­for­mances, the in­ge­nu­ity of the stag­ing and orig­i­nal­ity of the sto­ry­telling are ex­hil­a­rat­ing. We will not see a more im­pres­sive film this year. It’s sim­ply not pos­si­ble.

CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA Di­rected by Olivier As­sayas. Star­ring Juliette Binoche, Kristen Ste­wart, Chloë Grace Moretz, Lars Eidinger, Johnny Flynn, An­gela Win­kler, Hanns Zis­chler. 15A cert, limited re­lease, 123 min It is al­most ex­actly a year since the lat­est meta-teaser from Olivier As­sayas pre­miered to mixed re­views at Cannes. In the in­terim, Kristen Ste­wart be­came the first ever Amer­i­can to win a César Award and the film’s rep­u­ta­tion has swollen sig­nif­i­cantly. On sec­ond glance, it still seems like a shal­low project – less wow, more m’eh – with no­tions well above it­self.

The two main per­form an­ces are im­pres­sive: Juliette Binoche has her haughty face on, and Ste­wart brings clever nu­ances to a sen­si­tive fac­to­tum.

Maria (Binoche) is an ac­tor re­vis­it­ing the play Ma­jola Snake, which, in a film ver­sion, de­liv­ered her first hit. This time round she is play­ing the older of two women: a ty­coon clash­ing with her pushy, les­bian as­sis­tant. It looks as if the younger part might go to an Amer­i­can movie star (Chloë Grace Moretz), cur­rently A ROYAL NIGHT OUT Di­rected by Ju­lian Jar­rold. Star­ring Sarah Gadon, Emily Wat­son, Ru­pert Everett, Jack Reynor, Bel Powley. 12A cert, gen re­lease, 97 min Early on in this fit­ful al­ter­na­tive his­tory of VE Day, the fu­ture Queen El­iz­a­beth en­coun­ters a piece of gos­sip con­cern­ing Gre­gory Peck. We should give the film-mak­ers some credit for this oblique nod to an ob­vi­ous in­spi­ra­tion. Like Ro­man Hol­i­day, one of Peck’s best films, A Royal Night Out sends a princess – two princesses, in fact – out into the world to meet rough re­al­ity and very nearly fall in love. Un­for­tu­nately, the pic­ture is dragged down by shal­low stag­ing, hugely broad char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion and some un­evenly matched strug­gles be­tween ac­tor and ac­cent.

A Royal Night Out imag­ines that, on the last night of the war in Europe, sen­si­ble Princess El­iz­a­beth (Sarah Gadon) and dim-wit­ted Princess Mar­garet (Bel Powley) es­cape a party at the Ritz and launch them­selves ap­pear­ing in an un­con­vinc­ing su­per­hero movie.

De­spite be­ing pretty fa­mous her­self, Moretz is far too clean­cut to con­vince as a vari­a­tion on Lins­day Lohan. But Ste­wart is per­fectly cast as Val, the re­li­able, mys­te­ri­ous, am­bigu­ous woman who acts as Maria’s as­sis­tant. Val soon finds her­self read­ing the younger char­ac­ters lines as her boss pre­pares for her part in Ma­jola Snake.

There are, we have to sup­pose, par­al­lels be­tween their re­la­tion­ship and that of the char­ac­ters in the play. It’s ob­vi­ous. Isn’t it?

Well, d’uh, it re­ally is ob­vi­ous. For a film that be­lieves it­self to be ter­ri­bly

Princess sen­si­ble: Sarah Gadon in A Royal Night Out

into West End lowlife. The two get sep­a­rated and El­iz­a­beth finds her­self team­ing up with a dis­il­lu­sioned air­man (Jack Reynor) to track down her er­rant sis­ter. (Weirdly, the core plot is the same as that of Night of Tri­umph, a re­cent, ap­par­ently un­re­lated novel by Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw.)

For the most part, the ac­tors

Mists roll in: Juliette Binoche and Kristen Ste­wart in Clouds of Sils Maria

clever, Clouds of Sils Maria trades in some very clunky sub­texts. In­deed, the sub­texts stick so con­spic­u­ously through the sur­face that they hardly de­serve the pre­fix.

Still, Sils Maria re­mains at­trac­tive to look at. The mists roll in over the tit­u­lar val­ley. We travel to the sorts of high­end ho­tels that Roger Moore’s James Bond used to bed down in. Ste­wart’s weary in­ten­sity re­mains in­ter­est­ing through­out. At least, she got some­thing out of it. “keep calm and carry on” with some dig­nity. Reynor con­vinces as a work­ing-class Lon­doner. Ru­pert Everett seems to have de­cided to play the Duke of Ed­in­burgh rather than, as re­quested, King Ge­orge VI, but the per­for­mance works well any­way. Emily Wat­son is a more con­vinc­ing Queen El­iz­a­beth than He­lena Bon­ham Carter was in The King’s Speech.

The two women leads are, how­ever, pre­sented with near-im­pos­si­ble tasks. The re­spect­ful (one might al­most say ha­gio­graphic) ver­sion of El­iz­a­beth is so dull one finds one­self yearn­ing for a bit of Spit­ting Im­age.

The party-time take of Mar­garet is less po­lite – if not nec­es­sar­ily less ac­cu­rate – but broad­ens the char­ac­ter to in­di­gestible 1970s sit­com lev­els.

Thank heav­ens for the older pros. There is an en­tire film to be drawn around Roger Al­lam’s por­trayal of a spiv who, though handy with his fists, loves the royal fam­ily un­re­servedly. Such men still ex­ist.

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