The Walk  (2015)    72/100

Rating :   72/100                                                                     123 Min        PG

Robert Zemeckis takes us on another technological cinematic leap by recreating the Twin Towers in New York City, as he dramatises the story of Frenchman Philippe Petit’s 1974 attempt to put a high-wire between the buildings and walk along it unaided at a height of some 412m. One imagines it may have been the challenges involved that peaked the director’s interest, having embraced technical frontiers before with the likes of ‘Back to the Future’ (85), ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ (88), ‘The Polar Express’ (04) and ‘Beowulf‘, but the story in itself wonderfully captures the human spirit for adventure and the desire to challenge oneself in spite of the odds, and indeed the naysayers.

The events have already been famously filmed of course as part of the Oscar winning documentary ‘Man on Wire’ (08), and to be honest I wasn’t convinced dramatising it was necessary. Initially, these thoughts were echoed throughout the first half of the movie, which plays out as a dreamy fairytale; whimsical, loose, cheesy and not really leading anyplace worthwhile – all with a disembodied Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) occasionally interjecting his own backstory from no less than astride the top of the statue of liberty, itself of course a gift from France.

Here is where a major pitfall, ahem, of the film lies – trying to walk the narrative tightrope between an appropriate homage to the Twin Towers via Petit’s endeavours without becoming jingoistic, and it doesn’t always succeed – perhaps most tellingly when the plot completely omits a major event in the story, which in effect there wasn’t really any need to bring up, but they actually go so far as to fudge central character reactions to mask the truth, ironically bringing attention to the fault. I won’t ruin what it is that’s missing, but suffice to say it’s been done in a typically Hollywood way and obliterated one of the most interesting moments and talking points of ‘Man on Wire’.

Had they not done this, then I would have loved to give the movie a higher grade as when it finally gets going, the high-wire scenes are fantastically breathtaking, with Zemeckis very much pulling off a coup-de-grace to completely salvage the film. Based on my recollection of the documentary, Gordon-Levitt similarly gives a memorably enthusiastic and believable imitation of Petit, although in such instances I think you really have to be French in order to tell if his accent sounds authentic (he studied French literature at university, and was aided by the French cast so it seems likely), or more like someone’s taking the piss. A real shame they played games with the truth but a strong Oscar contender nonetheless. With Charlotte Le Bon and Ben Kingsley in support.

Sicario  (2015)    72/100

Rating :   72/100                                                                     121 Min        15

Emily Blunt flees to Mexico after insulting the Republican presidential candidates in the States – not really (Blunt did recently commit this faux pas after becoming a U.S. citizen but has not, as yet, had to flee south of the border) rather she plays F.B.I. agent Kate Macer who is recruited by other intelligence officials to facilitate further strikes against the major Mexican drug cartels that had begun to make heavy inroads into her locale of Arizona. Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve, of ‘Prisoners‘ fame, directs and Taylor Sheridan pens his screenwriting debut (he is better known for acting in TV series ‘Veronica Mars’ and ‘Sons of Anarchy’) to create a tense and beautifully shot thriller, with a level of realism on a par with ‘The Counsellor‘.

Villeneuve is one of the hottest rising stars behind the camera in Hollywood and here many of the early sections work really well, feeling immersive, real and exciting – but he’s not quite there yet, the good work begins to peter out a little as the movie goes on, largely due to a change in dynamic with the character interplay, a shift in focus away from the central character, Macer, may have helped allay that but as it is the film is still successful. In support are Josh Brolin, Benicio del Toro and Daniel Kaluuya – the acting is unwavering throughout and as with ‘Prisoners’ you do think there may be Oscar calls involved, although it’s a bit early to say for sure.

Sometimes if you follow up a really good film, that probably deserved a mention, with another solid one then that’s when the Academy pays attention (kind of like Michael Fassbender missing out for ‘Shame’ {11} and then getting nominated the year after for ‘12 Years a Slave‘, and indeed he’ll almost certainly get another nod this year too). Blunt is the strongest candidate for awards glory and she is long overdue more recognition. Her role may indeed come to be packaged as a strong female one, but in reality she’s really playing an overly headstrong character out of her depth, it’s not a particularly great endorsement of feminism even though it may end up being championed as just that. Cinematographer Roger Deakins also adds a great deal of expertise that allows many of the desert shots, both aerial and of the horizon, to really stand out, rounding off a grittily memorable film.

Mission : Impossible – Rogue Nation  (2015)    72/100

Rating :   72/100                                                                     131 Min        12A

Great fun, and coming as the fifth instalment in the franchise (after ‘Mission : Impossible’ 96, ‘Mission : Impossible II’ 2000, ‘Mission : Impossible III’ 06 and ‘Mission : Impossible – Ghost Protocol’ 11) it perfectly mirrors the trademarks of its predecessors – fast pace and fantastic stunts with supporting characters that essentially just pass muster, and a take it or leave it story that exists to primarily facilitate the action. This time around Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) must do battle with an elite super-secret nefarious organisation hell bent on seemingly random acts of evil – a group so secret that even the CIA disbelieve its existence, forcing Hunt to go dark and avoid capture himself as the IMF (Impossible Mission Force) are annexed by the Agency at the bequest of its director (Alec Baldwin) who apparently also thinks it more likely Hunt himself may be to blame for the aforementioned acts of terror.

Cruise has well and truly outdone himself on the action front here. Always one to step up to the plate and perform his own stunts, this film will absolutely be remembered for the set-pieces involved, chief among them the opening scene which was well reported in the media prior to the film’s release but I shan’t ruin it in case you remain unawares, suffice to say they filmed the thing eight times with naught but a single wire used as safeguard for the film’s star, and given the nature of the stunt I wouldn’t exactly be keen to put all my trust in that solitary wire. Indeed, not long after this Cruise puts to shame everyone who’s ever been handcuffed to a vertical object in a film before, and numerous impressive displays of acrobatics are spread throughout the movie.

Accompanying Cruise’s showmanship as one of the main attractions is Rebecca Ferguson (‘Hercules‘) as a mysterious female member of the shadowy organisation who is nothing short of completely fantastic in the role, imbuing it with physical prowess, sex appeal and solid acting to boot. There are the perhaps to be expected parallels with the Bond franchise, ‘Skyfall‘ in particular, and indeed look out for the several nods to the earlier M.I. films, but this is a very strong, entertaining blockbuster in its own right and it would be surprising not to see the cast and crew return for a decidedly merited number six. Indeed, this is also the fourth collaboration between Cruise and the film’s writer/director Christopher McQuarrie after he directed ‘Jack Reacher‘ and worked on its screenplay, along with that of ‘Valkyire’ (08) and ‘Edge of Tomorrow‘. With Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Jeremy Renner, Sean Harris and Simon McBurney in support.

Tom Cruise chats about his infamous stunt (spoiler alert) :

Whiplash  (2014)    72/100

Rating :   72/100                                                                     107 Min        15

Another best film contender at this year’s Oscars, ‘Whiplash’ is the up-close and intense story of one music teacher’s bullying of his students in an effort to drive them to greatness. Determined potential drumming prodigy Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) is numero uno on the list of students to break, and J.K.Simmons is abrasively and brutally brilliant as the demonic instructor hell bent on validating himself through ‘discovery’ of talent, whose determination is no doubt driven relentlessly on by his seeming failure to uncover any diamonds in the rough so far in his career, thus he feeds his own sadistic cruelty quite convinced the pain and suffering he causes is justified.

Teller is miles (ahaha) better in this than in anything I’ve seen him in so far (see ‘That Awkward Moment‘), and since it is him drumming (albeit with a lot of great editing from Tom Cross: the film’s solo, for example, took two days to film) he deserves a lot of credit, as does Nate Lang, who plays one of his competitors, for training him (Lang spent months tutoring him in the discipline of jazz drumming, differing considerably from his previous tenure drumming for both a church youth group and his band ‘The Mutes’ in high school). Teller, though, doesn’t yet have the emotional range to fully light up the film, to really, really make us feel for him.

It may perhaps seem a little too far fetched, that Simmon’s Terence Fletcher has been exaggerated beyond what would simply be allowed anywhere, but it’s partly based on writer/director Damien Chazelle’s own time in a jazz band (whose previous writing credits oddly include ‘The Last Exorcism Part II‘) and in The Red Dragon’s experience it’s bang on, and reminded him perfectly of one individual who was so despotic that he received bodily threats from concerned parents and yet who was still allowed to continue teaching unabated, resulting in a mass exodus of distressed and scarred students. No doubt many in the classical music industry will see similar shades of someone from their own past, or present …

Locke  (2013)    72/100

Rating :   72/100                                                                       85 Min        15

An extremely focused and potent film about consequences and responsibility. The entirety of this film takes place within the car of Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) as he drives away from work and not to home as usual, but to deal with the long shadow cast by some of his previous actions. Although it does not explicitly say so for a little while, it’s fairly obvious from the beginning that this event is the birth of an unplanned for child, one that Locke’s loving wife and current two sons do not know about. We learn the central character has issues of abandonment with regards to his own father, and so he makes several potentially life changing decisions as events pile on top of one another – he was due to pour the largest amount of concrete in Europe ever the following morning and has to prep someone else to do it via phone, for example, and he is partly forced and partly decides for himself that the time has come to confront everything.

The way we hear all of this play out via hands free phone conversations as he’s driving works really well, and it’s quite heart breaking listening to some of the reactions. Hardy is wonderful in the role, sporting a Welsh accent here, one with echoes of Bane in the background which kind of fits with his first name of Ivan, and both he and the script hold and carry interest from beginning to end, resulting in a captivating and meaningful drama.

I shan’t list the names of the actors in voice support as it’s actually better not to match faces to them as you watch the film. Movies that concentrate on only one or two characters in restricted settings are usually always worth watching – see the original ‘Sleuth’ (72), ‘Closet Land’ (91) and ‘Buried’ (10).

Calvary  (2014)    72/100

Rating :   72/100                                                                     100 Min        15

Another film featuring Brendan Gleeson and a healthy dose of Irish black humour (see ‘In Bruges’ 08 and ‘The Guard’ 11 for good examples of more) and once again featuring topical satire at the expense of the Catholic church, here courtesy of Gleeson’s central character, father James Lavelle, who is told during the film’s introduction he will be killed in a week’s time by a victim of child abuse at the hands of a different Catholic priest in years gone by. The setting is a small Irish town in County Sligo (Easkey was the main filming location) so Lavelle knows who his would be assassin is, but we the viewers do not. This mixture of dark comedy, serious issues and not quite whodunit but who is going to do it, creates a unique film with another predictably great leading performance from Gleeson, but also very solid support from the likes of Dylan Moran, Chris O’Dowd, Kelly Reilly Isaach De Bankolé and David Wilmot. The title is taken from the name of the site just outside of Jerusalem where the Bible tells us Jesus was crucified, and it’s written and directed by John Michael McDonagh who’s last project was the aforementioned ‘The Guard’ – here he has maintained the same level of humour as before, but injected it with a memorably dark and astute portmanteau of the often scandalous situation the Catholic church finds itself in worldwide, combined with ever relevant questions, and tests, of faith.

Before Midnight  (2013)    72/100

Rating :   72/100                                                                     109 Min        15

The continuation of a story focusing on a relationship under the microscope, in this case all before midnight on a certain day, and previously ‘Before Sunrise’ in 95 and ‘Before Sunset’ in 2004. The couple are Jesse and Celine, played respectively by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, both of whom helped write the screenplay along with the director Richard Linklater. The vast majority of the film is a dialogue between the two characters, whilst they holiday in Greece with their two twin daughters, with the only real notable exception being a dinner table scene with friends, but even if you haven’t seen the previous two films and are unfamiliar with the characters, as I was, this is still easily accessible. Both central performances are engaging, and though there are shades of whiny melodrama, the story touches on just enough common relationship issues and overarching themes of transience and mortal companionship to keep us interested. It’s not Bergman (Ingmar), but it is charming and involving, with a decidedly bittersweet aftertaste.

The Iceman  (2012)    72/100

Rating :   72/100                                                                     105 Min        15

Michael Shannon stars as real life New Jersey hitman Richard Kuklinski, who reputedly snuffed out over one hundred people in his long running career, in this violent tale of one man’s rage fuelled impulses and his conjoined determination to protect his family, together with his need to keep his underworld business with the Mafia a secret from them as a necessary part of that protection. Shannon is fantastic in the role, and Ray Liotta is just as good as the gangster that ‘funds’ his murderous enterprise, although this is hardly surprising since Liotta is pretty much the professional gangster of the big screen, someone should really make ‘Shoot Them One More Time Just to Make Sure’, the Disney musical biography of Ray Liotta’s onscreen career.

Winona Ryder plays Kuklinski’s somewhat faithfully naïve wife, whilst Chris Evans, Captain America himself, turns up as a rival assassin, and David Schwimmer convinces us he’s not Ross from ‘Friends’ this time round. Bizarrely, there is a court room scene at one point that seems to have mostly CGI members of the public sitting in the gallery. It’s a little odd, but otherwise this is a noteworthy gangster film sold primarily on the back of Shannon’s ability to embody the relentless killer that Kuklinski is, whilst also gaining our sympathy for him and his family.

The age certificate screen that appears before the film proper describes it as rated 15 for strong violence, sex and bad language, but I fail to see how graphic images of people having their throats sliced open doesn’t qualify it to be an 18 – neither is the sex especially strong (which is a shame since Winona Ryder is in it). It reminds me of when the computer game ‘Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas’, which was rated 18, was pulled from shelves not because you could run around chainsawing old grannies in the street and then rob and kick their corpses, but because a mod version was found to exist whereby once you’d shacked up with whichever one of your lady friends you’d impressed by doing all manner of pointless things, and the screen switched to an outside view of the house whilst you went in for some ‘hot coffee’, you were now able to view the actual act of, ahem, procreation, and could perform different sexual manipulations with the control pad. The game was made in Edinburgh, by Rockstar North, I’m proud to say, but the absurdity of the ban highlighted a bigger problem with censorship in general. Likewise, this should have been an 18, but the lack of genital shots rather than brutal executions are what prevent it from being so. Naturally.

Hitchcock  (2012)    72/100

Rating :   72/100                                                                       98 Min        12A

Threading a delicate and careful tapestry of the two main characters and their relationship, ‘Hitchcock’ gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the making of one of the most famous horror films of all time, ‘Psycho’ (60), and an insight into what it may have been like for its even more famous director, Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins), and his wife and longtime collaborator Alma (Helen Mirren). Both lead actors do a very fine job, with Hopkins in particular really seeming to relax into the role although his accent falls perhaps halfway between that of Hitchcock and his own. The film plays with the various myths and legends, idiosyncrasies and potential problems, passions and seeds of future sorrows that surrounded the latter part of the life of the director and, in particular, his last fistful of films, a few of which – ‘Psycho’, ‘The Birds’ (63), ‘Marnie’ (64), and in my opinion ‘Frenzy’ (72), have surpassed the test of time to enter into the annals of movie legend, and are studied religiously in film schools the world over.

Danny Huston is in support, with Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Biel playing Janet Leigh and Vera Miles respectively, though neither of the modern day leading ladies are given much to do here other than look pretty, a task which certainly falls well within their artistic purview. During the narrative, small hooks are tied to the real-life killings that ‘Psycho’ was based on, with the killer Ed Gein being played by Michael Wincott (who also portrayed the killer in 2001’s ‘Along came a Spider’), indeed the whole film is based on the 1990 factual novel ‘Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho’ by Stephen Rebello. The release of the movie coincides with a made-for-TV film, ‘The Girl’, which focused on the making of ‘The Birds’ & ‘Marnie’ and Hitchcock’s relationship with the star of both those films, Tippi Hedren. As to who plays the role of Hitchcock better, Hopkins or Toby Jones in ‘The Girl’, that is a pretty tough call to make, and though the differences in budget do make for a more slick final product with ‘Hitchcock’, as you would expect, it arguably also makes for a slightly safer one.

The two films together make excellent companion pieces and any fan of the director, or of film history, would do well to watch both of them, back to back if possible, with ‘Hitchcock’ sequentially first. And then watch his films again of course….

The Five-Year Engagement  (2012)    72/100

Rating 72/100                                                                         124 Min        15

In Brief : Well worth going to see.

Contents :
Mini Review
Full Review

Mini Review : ‘The Five-Year Engagement’ is a well rounded piece that sees both the main and the supporting cast deliver throughout. It follows in a similar vein to producer Judd Apatow’s previous work, romantic comedies with drama as subterfuge and a free rein on the actors to improvise. This, together with the familiarity of some of the cast and co-writer/director/producer Nicholas Stoller (Segel also co-wrote the script), has a telling effect on the production which gels together nicely. The film cleverly has at its core something everyone in a long term relationship can probably relate to, and yet despite the fact it plays out over the length of the film it never feels overstated or forced. Segel and Blunt combine to make a realistic and engaging (no pun intended) couple and a film that all involved with can be justifiably proud of.

Plot : Tom and Violet are madly in love with each other and decide to embark upon the adventure of marriage. Before they can set a date for the wedding though life interferes, and an extended period of postponement forces them to re-evaluate what they mean to each other.

Full Review (contains spoilers) : ‘The Five-Year Engagement’ opens with Jason Segel’s Tom fumbling his proposal of marriage to Emily Blunt’s Violet. She drags his plan out of him and they follow it through anyway, culminating in a rooftop restaurant scene with a New Year’s eve fireworks display over the Golden Gates Bridge as a backdrop. It’s a lovely scene, and it sets the tone for the entire film which in its entirety is well shot, edited, acted and written, with the gags shared between the leads and support in fairly equal measure.

We get some more of their back story – how they met exactly one year ago at a New Year’s eve party whilst Van Morrison’s ‘Sweet Thing’ played around them (which is from his very excellent second solo album ‘Astral Weeks’ – you can listen to the song here…)


Everything starts with them on a high after the marriage proposal is accepted. Tom works directly under the head chef in a swanky restaurant, whilst Violet is hopeful of getting into Berkeley to begin postdoc work in her field of psychology. Then of course things become more difficult. Violet is offered a position at the University of Michigan, the wedding is continually postponed, and their relationship is tested as Tom spirals downward, forced to endure work he feels is beneath him, whilst his friend Alex (played by Chris Pratt) back home takes the job of head chef at a new clam shell restaurant that otherwise would have been his. This allows the real centre of the film to play out, a drawn out examination of the realities of choosing a lifelong partner.

Judd Apatow has said of the moment Tom decides to go to Michigan for the sake of Violet’s career that it’s like he does it to score points for later, as if by doing so he gains ‘relationship chips’ that can be traded in at a later date, and that he himself, and probably lots of other people, has done the same thing, but that it’s a fantasy and there are no ‘chips’ – once it’s done you’ve agreed to it and that’s that. The assumption being if it then eats away at you then it’s your own fault. It’s a very interesting point, and one that will probably be familiar to anyone in a relationship, one half has accepted the decision and then largely forgotten about it, whilst the other is still expecting some sort of continual reward having made a sacrifice for the other’s benefit, perhaps sewing the seeds of resentment… It is true that because of this the audience do sympathise with Tom as we see him lose himself to a large degree over the years, becoming almost feral in a situation and place that he hates and, as he puts it, working at something he isn’t proud of. This is especially true when we are introduced to the suave university lecturer of Winton Childs played by Rhys Ifans. His introduction as the ultra cool psychology professor is very good, replete with pyrotechnics, but we know instantly he is going to be the contesting love interest for Violet. We the audience want him to fail because we feel what’s happening to Tom is pretty unfair and Childs seems somewhat insincere from the beginning (even his name suggests he might be praying on a younger generation). Rhys Ifans has said himself he was attracted to the character because he loves to see the ‘cool’ guy fall from grace, and that’s exactly what we are hoping for here. One can easily imagine a lonely life of academia leading to its abuse or payoff, depending on which way you see it, with attractive and impressionable young graduates/undergrads. The character then feels predictable but realistic, at one end of the scale of debonair cinematic professors perhaps, with Indiana Jones winning hearts and treasure at the other. The script is careful though not to alienate Violet in the process, which it manages to successfully avoid.

One of the worthiest moments comes at the dinner scene with Tom and his parents, who are still married to one another and seem pretty happy together. Tom has split from Violet and is seeing a young girl in her early twenties (the actress who plays her, Dakota Johnson, is the granddaughter of Tippi Hedren {‘The Birds’ 63, ‘Marnie’ 64} no less) and they rather directly tell him to get his act together and get back with Violet as he clearly loves her. When he says they aren’t one hundred percent right for each other, they reply that they themselves aren’t even sixty percent right for one another, but they are still the loves of each other’s lives. And this is essentially the main message behind the film – that if you find someone you really like, accepting they are never going to be perfect is paramount and once you’ve accepted that your responsibility to one another is to simply get on with enjoying yourselves. Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward were one of Hollywood’s couples that stood the test of time, happily married for fifty years right until his passing in 2008, and one of the reasons he gave for it was that they had some things they only ever did independently of one another. He loved racing cars, she couldn’t stand the sport, for example, but that was fine, the only thing that mattered was that they loved each other (I suppose having a legitimate break from each other with your separate hobbies also has a lot going for it. When asked about his devotion to his wife he famously once remarked “Why go out for a hamburger when you have steak at home?”). In the film, this concept is mirrored in sharp contrast with the deliberately accentuated coupling of Violet’s sister Suzie (played by Alison Brie) and Tom’s friend Alex, neither of whom seem right for each other but after an accidental pregnancy everything changes. They end up happy as can be, despite their lives having gone in the polar opposite direction from where they had each planned. We don’t see any of the interim period between the revealing of the pregnancy and their wedding, so the realities of their particular scenario are ignored in order to provide a counter point to the main couple. This is hammered home during the wonderful scene where, doing Elmo and Cookie Monster impressions respectively for the sake of the listening children, Suzie and Violet have their own version of the dinner table conversation, with the former suggesting it’s best to just pick a cookie and take a bite. It was actually Brie’s ability to impersonate Elmo that apparently may have landed her the part in the first place, despite the fact she is also the only cast member who had to learn an accent for her role. Full credit is due to her, not only for a very good Elmo impersonation but also for a convincing English accent to boot.

The film works so well because all of the constituent parts are good in their own right, and come together almost seamlessly. All of the support is good and Blunt and Segel are a joy to watch together. Segel in particular delivers the goods here and co-wrote the script along with director Nicholas Stoller (‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’ 08, ‘Get him to the Greek’ 10). This is the third outing for the main stars together, after ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ (10) and ‘The Muppets’ (11), with Stoller taking writing credits on both of these films too, and their familiarity with one another doubtless helped things along. For Emily Blunt it’s one of three very good releases in a short space of time (the others being ‘Salmon fishing in the Yemen’ 11 and ‘Your Sister’s Sister’ 11), indeed it’s difficult to think of many other performers with a similarly good back to back trio. It’s great to see after the misfires and waste of her talent in the aforementioned ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ and ‘Wild Target’ (10). Red Dragon did notice the one gratuitous shot of her in this film, as she mounts Tom after he has agreed to go to Michigan and the camera pans around the back of her body as she does so, almost as if the director had decided ‘Right, I’m going to show off Emily Blunt’s figure at least once in the film no matter what!’. The two of them sell the story of their characters perfectly, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see them collaborate together again in the future.

As with other Apatow productions the comedy is set against the backdrop of the emotional journey of the characters, and on set a lot of leeway was given for improv. It’s good to see a filmmaker who’s not afraid of the costs running over in favour of the actors and crew enjoying themselves with improvisation. After all, as John Rhys-Davies says on the special features of ‘The Return of the King’ (03), a high percentage of improvisation is probably going to be bollocks, and thereby result in extended shooting times and the use of more film. It may be that it’s one of the fundamental reasons his films do so well, and there is doubtless a lot to be said for a shoot that is constantly fresh and exciting, where the fun the actors have transfers to the screen and the audience. Much like when you see a comedy play on stage where the actors have delivered the lines a hundred times before – as the saying goes, it’s not just what you say but how you say it, so when suddenly one of them decides to mix it up a little and throw a bit of a curve ball delivery to their co-thesps, the obvious pleasure they get from doing so, and of course the enlivened retorts, makes it so much more engaging and pleasurable to watch.

The worst thing about the film would actually have to be the poster chosen for the main advertising campaign as it doesn’t bear witness to any scene in the film. In fact, it’s almost certainly been chosen to play off of the success of ‘Bridesmaids’ (11), something made all the more obvious by the ‘from the producer of Bridesmaids’ that’s splattered over the top of it. Perhaps understandable given its success, though with Bridesmaids the focus was on the comedy first and story second and here the story takes more of a precedence. The film could also have done without the scene which has Violet’s mother scolding and shouting at her whilst holding her sister’s new born baby – not a very nice introduction to the world that, it could easily have been filmed without the child, or they start bickering after they leave the room etc. The situation by the end of the film has also been reversed with Violet seemingly giving up her career in the immediate future in order to be with Tom, but the difference is made by the fact it’s her choice rather than a suggestion from Tom (even though he was also going to propose to her) and the progression of the film suggests both parties will now be happy and move on together, though it would be interesting to see if Violet was so happy with this a few years down the line…

Throughout the narrative periodic funerals of grandparents are edited in, which works well as a sort of pressure gauge on the main relationship but also to subtly and darkly make a deeper point from the stance of the usually neglected or trivialised romcom elderlies. Another constant theme, that of the doughnuts, is interesting – the premise of Violet’s experiment being to say to people in a waiting room there is a box of one day old doughnuts, which she apologises for, but that they will be replaced with new ones shortly; and to see who just eats the old ones, findings from which suggest a direct correlation between people eating the old ones and being ‘screw ups’ in their everyday lives. It’s used as a direct metaphor for relationships throughout, enjoying what’s in front of you instead of waiting for what might never arrive (as Tom points out, quite correctly). But are one day old doughnuts really that bad? What if someone thought ‘you know what, I’ll eat some of these ones now because they’re still pretty much fine, and then there’ll be more to go around for everyone else later’, in a sort of form of self sacrifice. Although this is based on real psychological tests used, both Tom and Violet end up eating stale doughnuts, uniting them forever via sugary bakery products. Red Dragon recently received a bundle of bakery goods that were otherwise going in the bin and neither he nor his friends thought twice before devouring them, admittedly there was no ‘better quality ones will arrive soon’ option in this scenario. Many eateries dispose of perfectly good produce each day because they have to by law, but most of them also forbid their staff from taking them home for fear of someone getting ill and it leading back to them. Red Dragon would like to suggest caveat emptor would be a more sensible approach in these situations, and would lead to less food being wasted, and more doughnuts for all.

Anyone really taken with the film might want to have a look at their blog –