The Scottish Mail on Sunday

The real tragedy? It’s just not very good


Very unfortunat­ely, Off The Rails has been hit not by one tragedy but two. First is that one of its female leads, Kelly Preston, star of Jerry Maguire and For Love Of The Game, and wife of John Travolta, died of cancer a year after filming was completed.

This certainly adds poignancy, not least because she’s playing an American actress, Cassie, who, along with Kate (Jenny Seagrove) and Liz (Sally Phillips), were lifelong friends of Anna. Who, as the film begins, has just died of cancer…

After the funeral, Anna’s grieving mother (Judi Dench, giving the briefest of cameos) hands the trio four Interrail tickets, apparently to recreate a legendary European journey from their youth but with an extra ticket so they can take Anna’s teenage daughter along.

The second tragedy is it’s really not very good. With producer Bill Kenwright presumably paying a fortune to plunder Blondie’s back catalogue, this is a film that longs to be Mamma Mia! but falls painfully short. Amid much forced jollity and clumsily contrived ‘comedy’, Preston, Seagrove and Phillips make unlikely friends which, given the lack of backstory and anything resembling characteri­sation, is not surprising.

Old finds writer-director M. Night Shyamalan – he of The Sixth Sense fame – in summer popcorn movie mode, offering a film we’re clearly not meant to be taking seriously but which isn’t clever enough or entertaini­ng enough to remotely satisfy. Essentiall­y, three groups of holidaymak­ers are dropped at a secret beach – supposedly for a wonderful experience – only to discover they’re growing older at an alarming rate. That’s it, really.

Grannies die, kids turn into teenagers, bosoms swell, beards burst through, wrinkles arrive.

It’s contrived, silly and downright nasty at times but worst of all, it’s all so predictabl­e until… nope, that doesn’t work either.

Riders Of Justice is a dark Danish thriller, which starts off as a clever revenge drama only to get potentiall­y derailed by jarring moments of black comedy. But the experience­d film-maker Anders Thomas Jensen doesn’t even blink: blending action and comedy superbly, albeit in a very Danish way.

Mads Mikkelsen, a regular Jensen collaborat­or, is terrific as Markus, the battle-hardened soldier who returns from Afghanista­n when his wife is killed in a train accident. The police think it was sheer bad luck, an unfortunat­e chain of coincidenc­es.

But Otto, a geeky computer scientist, doesn’t believe in coincidenc­es…

To say more would be to spoil a bullet-riddled rollercoas­ter that threatens to fall apart at least twice but always comes back together.

The World To Come is set in rural upstate New York in 1856 but was filmed – stunningly well – in Romania. It looks fantastic and with central performanc­es from Mission: Impossible and The Crown star Vanessa Kirby and Fantastic Beasts’ Katherine Waterston, it’s beautifull­y acted too. In fact, it’s such a thing of beauty it’s easy to overlook the fact we’ve seen this sort of ‘lovely, lonely women get the historic hots for each other’ many times before. Ammonite? Portrait Of A Lady On Fire? Still lovely, just not very original.

 ??  ?? FORCED JOLLITY: Jenny Seagrove, Elizabeth Dormer-Phillips, Kelly Preston and Sally Phillips in Off The Rails
FORCED JOLLITY: Jenny Seagrove, Elizabeth Dormer-Phillips, Kelly Preston and Sally Phillips in Off The Rails

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