Four new films to see this week

The First Omen, Evil Does Not Exist, Girls State, Io Capitano

The First Omen ★★★☆☆

Directed by Arkasha Stevenson. Starring Nell Tiger Free, Tawfeek Barhom, Sônia Braga, Ralph Ineson, Bill Nighy. 16 cert, gen release, 119 min

This prequel to The Omen has a plot eerily similar to that of the recent Immaculate. A young American novitiate travels to an Italian convent where — noting the franchise, this can hardly be a spoiler — a scheme is underway to bring Satan’s child into the world. The First Omen is not up to the standards of that fun Sydney Sweeney romp, but it is a darn sight better (or less bad anyway) than we had a right to expect. Some fun 1970s ambience. Much creative gore. Great scary nun stuff from Braga. Will do well enough. Full review DC

Evil Does Not Exist ★★★★☆

Directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi. Starring Hitoshi Omika, Ryo Nishikawa, Ryuji Kosaka, Ayaka Shibutani, Hazuki Kikuchi, Hiroyuki Miura. Limited release, 106 min

Hamaguchi follows up his Oscar-winning Drive My Car with an eco-drama that further lowers the pitch and ups the enigma. An idyllic rural community is troubled on hearing some sinister firm is set to build a glamping site that may poison the water. The locals come together for a meeting with PR people from the company. So far, so routine movie of the week. An opening abstract section points towards later variations that (appropriately enough) muddy the water in fascinating fashion. A political fable, but also an exercise in pure cinematic poetry. Full review DC

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Girls State ★★★★☆

Directed by Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine. Featuring Emily Worthmore, Maddie Rowan, Nisha Murali, Tochi Ihekona, Faith Glasgow, Cecilia Bartin. Apple TV+, 96 min

Moss and McBaine’s follow-up to their Sundance-winning Boys State follows Missouri girls attending an experiment in democracy. Tracy Flick, the striving high-school heroine of Election, is swiftly evoked as we meet Emily Worthmore, a proudly conservative teen with designs on the 2040 presidency: “Every election I’ve put myself in, I’ve won, since fourth grade.” Other dramas are resolved peaceably: new friends Brooke and Nisha Murali vie for the same position without friction. The empathetic directors let the young women do the talking. Seven credited cinematographers are there to capture every compelling moment. An essential watch. Full review TB

Io Capitano ★★★★☆

Directed by Matteo Garrone. Starring Seydou Sarr, Moustapha Fall, Issaka Sawagodo, Hichem Yacoubi. 15A cert, gen release, 122 min

Spirited Senegalese teenage cousins Seydou (Sarr) and Moussa (Fall) leave their hometown and set out for Italy, where Seydou hopes to find fame and fortune as a musician. Homeric beats define their journey. Matteo Garrone’s Io Capitano is the most swashbuckling of the current wave of dramas depicting the global migrant crisis. Working from the script composed of real-life testimonies and dramatised with youthful verve and extravagant flights of fancy, the director’s follow-up to 2019′s exquisite Pinocchio, is a real adventure. Homeric beats define the heroes’ journey. Full review TB

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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