4 March 2022.
How did director/actor Kenneth Branagh go from the showy, pop entertainment that was the latest “Death on the Nile” to something as deep, heartwarming and nostalgic as this black and white account of his own childhood in an Ireland torn apart by religious differences in the late 1960s? That is versatility and talent.
Seen through the eyes of the boy that he was, played by a shiny Jude Hill, we experience the camaraderie and love that existed in this drab but integrated street of terrace houses where Catholics and Protestants lived in harmony until radical troublemakers disturbed the peace. The tow-haired 9-year-old called Buddy had doting grandparents, played here by Judy Dench and Ciaran Hinds, and loving parents who had to make the hard decision of maybe leaving their agitated hometown.
There are his best friend and the sweet little girl that he doesn’t want to leave. There are the slow conversations and moments with his family that are precious to him, and the worries about his level-headed father (Jamie Dornan) who refuses to take sides in the Troubles. And when it all gets too much for him, he finds excitement and solace at the movies.
Branagh has taken all of these bittersweet memories and created a film that evokes feelings that may at times bring an unconscious tear and then a smile. And there is the brilliant soundtrack, perfectly illuminated by the soulful songs of Van Morrison, another Irishman. This is a film one cannot forget.
WILD MEN ***1/2 (vo Danish/Norwegian)
How do these Nordics do it? How did they ever get so darkly funny up there in their cold climate? This film by Danish director Thomas Daneskov is yet another example of their wonderfully daft imagination along with a layer of philosophical depth concerning human, and especially male, frailty, as portrayed in films such as the Norwegian “Kraftidioten/In Order of Disappearance” or the Icelandic “Virgin Mountain”.
A fellow (Rasmus Bjerg), feeling adrift in his normal life as husband and father, takes to the woods to find his inner self and live off nature. Looking like a modern-day Davy Crockett, this big innocent comes upon an injured drug dealer played by Zaki Youssef (you won’t believe the circumstances) and this hilarious, unlikely tale becomes the sweetest and strangest of buddy films.
A bit of a Nordic “Fargo” in its black humor and weird violence, this is a film that will shock, charm and thoroughly entertain you.
ROBUSTE *1/2 (vo French)
The great Gérard Depardieu is in three films on the screen this week. The first two, “Maigret” and “Maison de retraite”, which I already reviewed, are definitely worth your while. But even he cannot win them all, and this one about the encounter of two robust (especially in girth) characters – a young black female wrestler working as a bodyguard, and an ageing movie star – is much ado about nothing. Run to the other two.
THE BATMAN *
Dark, gloomy, catastrophic, violent and about corruption and a sick serial killer…for three long hours. This may appeal to DC Comic aficionados and 15-year-olds, who may unfortunately learn a few new ways to torture an adversary. There’s not an ounce of relief or humor here, nor a ray of light or any humanity.
One longs for the excellence of Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” from 2008, or the tragic darkness of “Seven”. Robert Pattinson is a weak excuse for Batman.
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Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.