Trespass Against Us
Adam Smith’s rural noir,(15A), stars Michael Fassbender as Chad Cutler, a gypsy thief chafing under the autocratic rule of his father, Colby (Brendan Gleeson).
With his brother already in prison and his wife Kelly (Lyndsey Marshal) fearing that Chad will go the same way, Chad promises to abandon his rootless existence and settle down with Kelly and their two children.
Colby, however, believes that blood ties trump all other claims, and would rather Chad perished as a member of the clan than prospered elsewhere.
Written by Alistair Simmons, and directed with an impeccable eye for grubby detail by Adam Smith, Trespass Against Us is a doom-laden tale of thwarted ambition and wasted lives.
Fassbender is in superb form as the charismatic Chad, a likeable ne’er-do-well torn between doing his duty as a son and his responsibilities as a husband and father.
The setting’s visual clues tell us that all is unlikely to end well, given the way the Cutlers’ rubbish-strewn camp is an eyesore in the idyllic countryside, although the age-old conflict between father and son plays out in an unexpected fashion.
Lyndsey Marshal gives Kelly a wonderfully prickly, uncompromising reading, in the process stealing every scene she’s in, but Brendan Gleeson’s character is less persuasive, a comi-tragic patriarch whose crudities are a little too thickly sketched to ring true.
Blackly humorous throughout (the car chases are a hoot), the story ends with more of a whimper than the expected bang, as the filmmakers struggle to reconcile the noir-ish tone with a feel-good finale.
Hugh Jackman returns as(16s) in the latest flick to feature the X-Men mutants, although James Mangold’s film offers a rather downbeat take on the conventional superhero movie.
The story opens on the US-Mexico border in 2029, where we find the pill-popping, hard-drinking Logan working as a chauffeur and caring for the stricken Charles (Patrick Stewart).
When Logan is approached to drive young mutant Laura (Dafne Keen) to a mutant ‘Eden’ in North Dakota, he is reluctant to get involved — until Laura begins wreaking havoc on her enemies with wolverine-style claws.
Billed as the final Wolverine movie, Logan has as much in common with a neo-Western as it does the traditional superhero movie, with Logan a burnt-out, grizzled husk, a veteran gunslinger girding his loins for one last suicidal stand against the black-hatted forces of evil.
Pursued by Dr Rice (Richard E Grant), the mastermind behind a programme to genetically engineer an army of mutant killers, Logan, Charles and Laura take to the road on an epic journey that offers the promise of redemption.
That said journey involves multiple shoot-outs and the frequent slashing, slicing and impaling of bad guys is a given, but Logan is far more interesting when it pauses to draw breath and allow Logan and Charles to tease out the nuances in their relationship, with Jackman and Stewart in fine fettle as old sparring partners, while Dafne Keen, in her feature-length debut, provides a spell-binding presence in a largely silent role.
It’s not often a superhero action movie manages to invest its shenanigans with a believably elegiac tone, but Logan combines both, in the process offering a fitting farewell to one of contemporary cinema’s most idiosyncratic anti-heroes.
Adapted from a Daniel Woodrell novel,(15A) stars Jake Weary as Sammy Barlach, an ex-con drifter who ‘ends up on the wrong side of things — as always’ when he falls for flame-haired Jamalee Merridew (Julia Garner), only to discover that Jamalee, her brother Jason (Nick Roux) and her mother Bev (Anna Friel) comprise the most dysfunctional family in the fly-blown squalor of Venus Holler.
Adapted and directed by Juanita Wilson, Tomato Red is a neo-noir with the emphasis on character development rather than action, as Wilson sticks close to the source material to emphasise the ways in which the Merridew family were a losing docket before the race even began, dirt-poor white trash regarded as dispensable by the country club clientele who represent Jamalee and Jason’s ideal of the American Dream as they prowl through rich folks’ mansions for cheap thrills.
The apparently ageless Anna Friel is in luminous form here, even if she is playing a variation on the old tart-with-a-heart myth, although Garner and Roux are less convincing, their characters a little too self-consciously outré to be convincing as trailer-park trash.
Tomato Red may lack the emotional heft of Juanita Wilson’s breathtaking debut, As If I Am Not There, but it is an enjoyably slow-burning tale of impending doom which benefits from Piers McGrail’s eye-catching cinematography and an edgy, discordant score.