Movie reviews with Declan Burke
Guy Ritchie was never likely to create a reverential account of the Arthurian myth with King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (12A), and the moment when the gigantic war elephants hove into view is an early confirmation that his latest offering has as little interest in its source material as it does in historical accuracy.
Deprived of his rightful heritage by his usurping uncle Vortigen (Jude Law), the ‘Born King’ Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) grows up in a brothel, becoming a tough, cunning and street-wise thief.
Forced, reluctantly, to draw Excalibur from the stone, Arthur quickly finds himself hounded by Vortigen’s killers, and obliged to join forces with a rag-tag band of forest-dwelling rebels devoted to removing Vortigen from his throne.
Ritchie also co-wrote the script with Joby Harold and Lionel Wigram. He appears to have confused the stories of King Arthur and Robin Hood, as Arthur emerges as a working-class hero declaring war on privilege.
All of which might have been perfectly fine, given that the settings are spectacular and the action sequences are impressively choreographed and edited, but Ritchie’s insistence on giving Arthur and his merry band dialogue more suited to a Cockney gangland turf war grates on the nerves as much as it assaults the ears.
The combination of irreverent tone and classical legend makes for an uneasy blend not unlike Game of Thrones overdubbed with dialogue from Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and the result is as pompously self-satisfied as it is irritating.
Set in contemporary Dublin, In View (15A) stars Caoilfhionn Dunne as Ruth, a garda reduced to shuffling paper around a desk as she struggles to cope with the death of her husband, Dominic, and their infant son, Sean. Suffering from depression, drinking heavily, Ruth is in a downward spiral and sees only one way out.
Written and directed by Ciaran Creagh, helming his feature-length debut, In View is a sobering character study of one woman’s descent into utter despair. Caoilfhionn Dunne is superb in the main role as the dull-eyed Ruth, beaten down and broken, shuffles through one crisis after another, a performance so understatedly magnetic it emphasises the extent to which Ruth’s profound depression seems to drain the life from those around her — old flame Denis (Ciarán McMenamin), boss Donny (Stuart Graham), her grieving parents- in-law (Gerard McSorley and Maria McDermottroe).
David Grennan’s cinematography further accentuates Ruth’s feelings of hopelessness, a canny mixture of framing designed to give the audience a sense of Ruth’s off-kilter thinking and long, static shots which convey the depth of her brooding isolation.
The result is a film which pulls few punches in its depiction of depression (the scene in which Ruth makes a donation of ‘never used’ baby clothes is heart-breaking), and while it all makes for rather grim viewing, Ciaran Creagh is to be applauded for tackling a very difficult subject and following Ruth’s logic through to the bitter end, as Caoilfhionn Dunne, scraped bare of any affectation, eyes devoid of light or hope, dares us to avert our eyes from her tragedy.
Snatched (15A) opens with Emily (Amy Schumer) losing her job and her boyfriend on the same day. Devastated and broke, Emily resolves to follow through on the holiday in Ecuador she had planned with her boyfriend, although there’s one problem — with the holiday pre-paid, she needs a partner in crime.
A little emotional blackmail later, Emily and her mother, Linda (Goldie Hawn), are winging their way to South America, where the pair get themselves kidnapped and held for ransom.
Written by Katie Dippold and directed by Jonathan Levine, Snatched offers a tantalising comic set-up: the self-deluded Emily makes for an endearing ditzy blonde, particularly given Amy Schumer’s trademark irreverence, while Linda, her po-faced, conservative mother, is played by the original ditzy blonde, Goldie Hawn.
What results, however, is a clumsy affair, not least because Amy Schumer displays all the comic deftness of a bull with a personal grudge against the china-shop owner, stomping about and bellowing punchlines that wouldn’t (in fairness to her) be funny regardless of the decibel level employed.
Meanwhile, Goldie Hawn, a deceptively smart comedienne, is given very little to do other than appear shocked. There are some funny moments, most of them of the slapstick variety, but for the most part Snatched is a shameful waste of the comic talents of both Schumer and Hawn.
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