Four new films to see this week

Rose Plays Julie and The Story of Looking in cinemas, Everyone’s Talking About Jamie and The Mad Women’s Ball streaming

Ann Skelly in Rose Plays Julie

Ann Skelly in Rose Plays Julie

 

ROSE PLAYS JULIE ★★★☆☆
Directed by Christine Molloy, Joe Lawlor. Starring Ann Skelly, Orla Brady, Aiden Gillen, Annabell Rickerby, Catherine Walker, Sadie Soverall. 15A cert, limited release, 101 min
The film-makers sometimes known as Desperate Optimists return with another spooky, evasive, fascinating, occasionally frustrating drama. Skelly plays Rose, a young veterinary student eager to track down the mother who gave her up for adoption after placing the name “Julie” on her birth certificate. As tends to be the case with the Optimists, the tech work is so finely honed you want to either applaud or scream. The allegories lie heavy. But the three principals – Brady plays Rose’s actor mum, Gillen is her archaeologist dad – help tease out a sinister mystery. Full review DC  

EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT JAMIE ★★★★☆
Directed by Jonathan Butterell. Starring Max Harwood, Sarah Lancashire, Lauren Patel, Shobna Gulati, Ralph Ineson, Adeel Akhtar, Sharon Horgan, Richard E Grant. Amazon Prime, 115 min

Max Harwood in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie
Max Harwood in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

A young man in Sheffield (Harwood, irresistible) plans to attend his school prom in drag. Based on the BBC documentary Jamie: Drag Queen at 16, and featuring a score by The Feeling’s Dan Gillespie Sells, Tom MacRae’s ebullient musical – a hit on the West End – is a sure-fire post-Covid crowd-pleaser. A sassy teenager finding his place in the world, Jamie expresses himself movingly from fierce opener (And You Don’t Even Know It) to uplifting finale (Out of the Darkness). What a shame the film is only available to stream. Would play well with a crowd. Full review TB

THE MAD WOMEN’S BALL/LE BAL DES FOLLES ★★★★☆
Directed by Mélanie Laurent. Starring Lou de Laâge, Mélanie Laurent, Benjamin Voisin, Emmanuelle Bercot, Cédric Kahn, César Domboy, Coralie Russier. Amazon Prime, 121 min

Lou de Laâge in The Mad Women’s Ball
Lou de Laâge in The Mad Women’s Ball

Excellent drama concerning the treatment of so-called “hysterical” women in 19th-century France. The sixth film by actor-director Laurent stages a thrilling battle between the individual and mechanisms of discipline, a conflict that keeps the curveballs coming. It might be argued that the film is far too pretty and squeaky clean in its representation of a 19th-century institution, but it’s never less than disconcerting, for all the hygienic loveliness. Director and star deftly balances social commentary and genre tension. Full review TB

 THE STORY OF LOOKING ★★★★☆
Directed by and featuring Mark Cousins. Limited release, 87 min

The Story of Looking
The Story of Looking

Mark Cousins, the unstoppable Belfast-born critic and documentarian, ponders the art of looking as he prepares for a cataract operation. Cousins would never be quite so sentimental as to ask us to “appreciate what you have while you still have it” but that sense is implicit throughout the argument. One of seeing. One thinks about the ethics of gazing at terrible things. One also – if one is still so lucky – celebrates one’s ability to see anything at all. Full review DC

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