A right royal bore
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.