Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Me Before You (2016)

me before you
Image rights belong to Warner Bros. Pictures, New Line Cinema, Sunswept Entertainment and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Me Before You – Film Review

Cast: Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin, Charles Dance, Janet McTeer, Jenna Coleman, Matthew Lewis, Brendan Coyle

Director: Thea Sharrock

Synopsis:  After losing her job, a young woman finds herself work caring for a young disabled man, and the two form an unlikely bond.

Review: The twist on the common love story, where one of two of the people involved have a tragic set of circumstances is a route that many romantic films seem to be taking these days. The likes of 2014’s The Fault in our Stars, a tale of two young people stricken by illness. In this tale crafted from the novel of the same name by JoJo Moyes, who is also on screenplay duties, one half of this unlikely pairing has his life changed forever after a tragic road accident. The other is a down on her luck woman who is employed by his parents to be a full time carer.

Full time caring is almost certainly not an easy profession in the slightest and life for plucky and chatty Louisa Clark (Clarke) is certainly that in the initial stages as her patient Will (Claflin) is cold and detached towards her. His accident has left its mark and he is bluntly unwilling to communicate with many people. Yet through her resilience and charm, she cracks that hard exterior and the two begin to build a relationship. Clarke is a bit irksome in the early stages of the film, she is certainly not the Mother of Dragons here. Having said that, overall her performance is compelling as their relationship grows. Claflin too also delivers a superb performance. Their chemistry together is believable and you will them to cherish the other’s company. The rest of the cast certainly bring their best, but it is the performances of the two leads that drive the film forwards.

me before you

The script tries to manage comedy, love and tragedy at various points, to mixed results. The dialogue is far from the atrocius levels of say Twilight, but it could certainly be improved in more than few places. There are some humorous moments of course, but ultimately the story, being centred about a man who has essentially lost control of his entire body, is a little bit sombre. Yet there are some positive and cheery messages that the viewer can cling to if they find themselves in the face of adversity or times of hardship. As one character says “You get one life, it’s your duty to life your life as fully as possible.” It can be easy to feel regret the circumstances, but above all, you must not lose heart, and cherish those closest to you.

Controversy over the film’s handling of the subject matter has surfaced, with the ending of the film being the main focus of the criticism. It is understandable criticism, but one would hope that the film’s positive messages can leave the viewer hope and encouragement when the credits begin to roll, even if the tears are flowing, which they probably might.

The performances of Claflin and Clarke are excellent, and despite the film’s sombre tone, there are plenty of positive messages for audiences to cling to.

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Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

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Image is property of Lionsgate

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – Film Review 

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence,  Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Sam Claflin

Director: Francis Lawrence

Synopsis: Katniss has sparked rebellion in the twelve districts of Panem and she has become the target by the ruthless Capitol. As rebellion is brewing, the Capitol prepares for the 75th Hunger Games, also known as the Third Quarter Quell, and one that will change Katniss’s life forever…

Review: A bigger and better adventure than the first film of what already has the makings of a very successful franchise.  A franchise that is quite simply not a plain rip off of Battle Royale as some people would have you believe.

The opening begins with the consequences of Katniss and Peeta’s open defiance against the Capitol following their victory in the previous film. Katniss in particular feels the full wrath of the cold President Snow (Donald Sutherland) who threatens Katniss with the deaths of all those she holds dear unless she cools the brewing rebellion that is gaining momentum throughout the nation’s twelve districts. Katniss is seen as the symbol of rebellion and Snow desperately wants to kill her to crush the rebellion. Yet Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) suggests that she be brought down to the level of the Capitol and the symbol of hope that she has become will be eradicated. Sutherland takes his performance form the first film up a gear and he definitely comes into his own as the cold and cruel leader of Panem.

Jennifer Lawrence rose to super stardom following her performance as the film’s star heroine in last year’s film. Following on from this, the 23 year old has got bigger and now has on Oscar for her role in Silver Linings Playbook. The only way is up for her and her performance as the film’s lead character was again fantastic. A strong and powerful female heroine is rare in films these days but with Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, she gives us the strong female lead that has helped define this franchise and dare I say, helps bring a positive image of women in action movies and not the sulking and needy women that has come from franchises of the past (*cough* Twilight *cough) The returning cast are also on form again with Stanley Tucci as the bubbly Casear Flickman and Elizabeth Banks as the ever colourful and this time much more emotional Effie Trinket.  Josh Hutcherson and Woody Harrelson also reprise their roles to great effect. Among the new members of the cast, Sam Claflin is the most noteworthy as Finnick Odair. Yet the likes of Beetee (Jeffrey Wright), Wiress (Amanda Plummer), Mags (Lynn Cohen) and Johanna (Jena Malone) also make strong impressions.

Under a new director, Francis Lawrence who is not a relation of Jennifer, the film’s action scenes definitely improve and the frustrating shaky cam has been done away with. This film does focus a lot more on some of the crucial elements that are within the books and as the content of this film is considerably darker than its predecessor. A notable example of this is the significance of the Mockingjay pin that went completely amiss in the first film. The director does a great job in bringing those elements from Collins’ novel to the big screen and all in all it is pulled off really well with some exciting and pulsating  scenes especially when we get to the arena which again is done extremely well.

Under Lawrence’s direction, this franchise is in good hands and the final two parts of the franchise have got the potential to be even better than the first two. With the third biggest opening in the UK for 2013, it seems the UK public continue to want the odds to be in their favour. This film definitely delivers what the hordes of passionate Hunger Games fans wanted to see.  It was exciting, dark and was all round perfectly executed. It was  much more loyal to the book  than the first film. While it was not completely loyal, it was still very enjoyable and I eagerly await the next instalment of this franchise.

Upping the stakes as a sequel should, Catching Fire  delivers much more compelling action with a really solid story that ensures the odds are very much in this franchise’s favour.

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