RED JOAN (12A) ★★ ★★★
INSPIRED by a true story, Dame Judi Dench (pictured) plays an elderly British woman accused of being a Russian spy, in an espionage thriller directed by Trevor Nunn.
Joan Stanley (Dench) is a softly spoken librarian, who is a beloved member of her local community. Out of the blue, police knock at her door and accuse Joan of operating as an undercover operative for the Russians for more than 50 years.
In flashbacks to the 1940s, Joan (now played by Sophie Cookson) attends Cambridge University, where she gravitates towards Russian student Leo Galich (Tom Hughes), who seduces Joan and encourages her to exploit her talents for the KGB.
Dench possesses an innate ability to snag our affections even when the script doesn’t give her anything interesting to impart.
I spy a missed opportunity.
WILD ROSE (15) ★★★★ ★
SOMETIMES it’s hard to be a woman but it’s harder to be a woman who sacrifices her dreams of fame for her children in this uplifting drama.
Rose-Lynn Harlan ( Jessie Buckley, pictured) was still a child when she gave birth to her second bairn. Now she has been released from prison with a security tag affixed to her ankle to ensure she observes night-time curfew, Rose-Lynn must tighten her feeble grasp of her maternal responsibilities or lose the respect of her eightyear-old daughter and five-year-old son forever.
Rose-Lynn’s purse-lipped mother Marion ( Julie Walters) fears her daughter will abandon the children again to pursue impossible dreams of becoming a country music singer in Nashville.
Unperturbed, Rose-Lynn earns money as a cleaning lady for businesswoman Susannah (Sophie Okonedo). The well-to-do homeowner is dazzled by Rose-Lynn’s talent and suggests they crowd-fund the journey to America.
HELLBOY (15) ★★ ★★★
HELL hath no fury like wise-cracking demonic spawn with surrogate daddy issues in this laboured reboot.
Spewed from the flaming bowels of the Earth during the Second World War, Hellboy (David Harbour, pictured) wages war on creatures of the dark with the Bureau For Paranormal Research And Development (BPRD).
Under the command of his adopted father, Professor Butterholm (Ian McShane), Hellboy joins the hunt for three rampaging giants in England.
Hellboy is reunited with spirit medium Alice Monaghan (Sasha Lane), whose ability to communicate with the dead proves vital when wild boar Gruagach (Stephen Graham) reassembles the severed limbs of a powerful witch (Milla Jovovich).
Ben Daimio (Daniel Dae Kim), head of Special Ops for M11, and soothsayer Lady Hatton (Sophie Okonedo) join Hellboy on a mission to slay the crone.