Four new films to see in cinemas this week, including a controversial Marilyn Monroe biopic

Blonde, Don’t Worry Darling, Athena, After Yang have all just been released

BLONDE ★★☆☆☆

Directed by Andrew Dominik. Starring Ana de Armas, Adrien Brody, Bobby Cannavale, Xavier Samuel, Julianne Nicholson. 16 cert, limited release, 166 min

Much chewed-over study of Marilyn Monroe — from a nonfiction novel by Joyce Carol Oates — featuring a decent central performance by de Armas and some overwrought filmmaking by Dominik. Nobody could deny that Dominik layers sympathy on Monroe, but the reduction of her life to a catalogue of torments betrays the complicated, intelligent and — God forbid this were acknowledged — funny person we knew her to be. Defining her solely by misery feels like more post-mortem abuse. There is scarcely more insight into the Monroe phenomenon than there was in the four mawkish minutes of Candle in the Wind. Full review DC

DON’T WORRY DARLING ★★☆☆☆

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Directed by Olivia Wilde. Starring Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Chris Pine, Olivia Wilde, Gemma Chan, KiKi Layne, Nick Kroll. 16 cert, gen release, 122 min

An apparently perfect 1950s US community turns out to be not what it seems (surprise, surprise). The gossip around Wilde’s film might have caused some critics to go in harder than the flick deserves. Don’t Worry Darling isn’t terrible. It is just ploddingly ordinary. Styles offers evidence that, as pop star crossovers into film go, we may be experiencing more of a Cliff Richard arrangement than a Frank Sinatra ascendency. The costuming and production design are so crisp one can often overlook the vacuum within the packaging. Pine has fun as a corporate dictator. But Pugh steals the show. Full review DC

ATHENA ★★★★★

Directed by Romain Gavras. Starring Dali Benssalah, Sami Slimane, Anthony Bajon, Ouassini Embarek, Alexis Manenti. Netflix, 100 min

Kinetic, thrilling French drama (directed by the son of legendary filmmaker Costa-Gavras) concerning disturbances in a troubled banlieu. It starts as it means to go on with a riot and fireworks. Working with co-writers Elias Belkeddar and Ladj Ly — whose 2019 Cannes-conquering Les Miserables followed similarly white-knuckle misadventures of fugazied cops — Athena refashions urban and class conflict to resemble Greek mythology. It’s something grander in scope and scale than the urban frisson of genre classic La Haine: its immersive “real-time” design leaves the viewer reeling and scrambling in time. Essential. Full review TB

AFTER YANG ★★★★☆

Directed by Kogonada. Starring Colin Farrell, Jodie Turner-Smith, Justin H Min, Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja, Haley Lu Richardson. Liimited release, 96 min

Yang (Min) is a “technosapien”, an advanced flesh-and-metal robot. He was purchased by Jake (Farrell) and Kyra (Turner-Smith) as a big brother and cultural adviser for their adopted Chinese daughter Mika (Tjandrawidjaja). When Yang suddenly breaks down, the family is thrown into a gentle, softly articulated metaphysical crisis. Farrell’s central turn, a lovely, soulful study of melancholy, is one of his best to date. Cinematographer Benjamin Loeb’s pillow shots are appropriately contemplative. After Yang makes one think of Blade Runner as reimagined by Yasujirō Ozu. An oddly late release after a 2021 Cannes premiere. Full review TB

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke, a contributor to The Irish Times, is Chief Film Correspondent and a regular columnist

Tara Brady

Tara Brady

Tara Brady, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a writer and film critic