Tag: Cillian Murphy

Image courtesy of Roadside Attractions.

*** ½ (out of 4)

Sally Potter’s The Party is the latest addition to the illustrious subgenre of satire films that center around a bourgeois dinner party. In this particular instance, the bourgeois protagonists in question are seven members of the British elite, and they’re gathering to celebrate the fact that one of their number (named Jane, played by Kristin Scott Thomas) has just been appointed shadow health minister. When the movie opens, we watch as all the characters – Jane, her husband Bill (Timothy Spall), her best friend April (Patricia Clarkson), April’s partner Gottfried (Bruno Ganz), a lesbian couple named Jinny (Emily Mortimer) and Martha (Cherry Jones), a banker named Tom (Cillian Murphy) – enter Jane’s living room in relatively good cheer. But luckily, we don’t have to wait long for an incident that’ll permanently shatter their happy façade: mere seconds after they deliver a toast to Jane, Bill abruptly announces that he’s terminally ill.

In her depiction of the chaos and conflict that emerge in the wake of Bill’s bombshell declaration, Potter primarily seeks to advance two larger themes.

Reviews - New Releases/Festivals

*** (out of 4)

Thanks to films like Saving Private Ryan, the oft-used saying that “war is hell” tends to conjure up images of huge explosions, flying bullets, and injured soldiers writhing in trenches. In Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, however, the hell of war is something both far less flashy and far more insidious: constant apprehension. The movie recounts the story of the “miraculous” Dunkirk evacuation  from three perspectives: a soldier (Fionn Heyward) willing to do whatever it takes to board a ship home, a civilian (Mark Rylance) who sails to Dunkirk to pick up soldiers, and a couple of RAF fighters (Jack Lowden, Tom Hardy) chasing Nazi planes over the English Channel. In each storyline, there are indeed plenty of explosions and shoot-outs. Yet such flashes of action prove secondary to the large stretches of time said characters spend sitting, sailing, and flying in silence – quietly waiting for the attack they know is coming, but unsure of when it will happen or how to prepare. This, Nolan suggests, is the most debilitating aspect of war: a permanent, simmering sense of dread, almost like a perpetual state of unsatisfied suspense.

Many war movies play like secondary sources: they provide context on the war and their protagonists’ lives with a slight detachedness that makes you think you’re watching the cinematic adaptation of a biography. The best thing about Dunkirk, however, is that it’s very much a primary source – a loose, almost impressionistic portrayal of various individuals’ struggles to survive that prioritizes direct sensorial experience over exposition, acting, and dialogue.

Reviews - New Releases/Festivals