Movie reviews: Me Before You, Race, The Measure of a Man, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
Based on a popular novel by Jojo Moyes, 'Me Before You' is being touted as the romantic tearjerker everyone will want to go and see this summer. It certainly piles on the pathos at times, and is full of ideas cribbed from 19th-century literature. Emilia Clarke from 'Game of Thrones' is Louisa Clark, an annoyingly perky working-class girl who finds herself at a loose end when she loses her job waiting tables at a café.
She's thrilled when she lands a job as carer to one Will Traynor (Sam Claflin), but not so thrilled when she meets him. Will was a wealthy young man who had it all till he was left paralysed by a road accident: he's angry, hostile, and planning to end it all as soon as he can escape to a clinic in Switzerland. He's horrified by Louisa's loud clothes and incessant chatter, but gradually begins to appreciate her qualities.
Will Traynor, of course, is Mr Darcy in a wheelchair, a frozen sweetheart just waiting to be melted. And there's a touch of the Eliza Doolittles about Louisa: she's as ignorant as a mountain goat until she meets Will, who teaches her to appreciate Mozart and tolerate films with subtitles.
All of this is deeply patronising of course: she, a superannuated café waitress, is only acceptable to him as a love interest because he's terminally impaired.
And while the film itself is pretty bearable in parts - Claflin and Clarke are good, and work well together - it's all rather pat and manufactured and Mills & Boon-like in the end.
Few true stories are as satisfying as that of Jesse Owens, the legendary African-American athlete who overcame poverty and hostility to represent his country at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. There he made a mockery of Adolf Hitler's crackpot race theories by defeating the Third Reich's finest athletes, breaking several world records and winning four gold medals.
That tale is lovingly but sluggishly recreated by Stephen Hopkins' 'Race', which stars Stephen James as Owens, and Jason Sudekis as his college coach, Larry Snyder. The point is made early and often that the Nazis' racism was mirrored in America by the segregation and prejudice with which blacks were constantly confronted, and the film's athletics sequences are reasonably well done.
But 'Race' tries to do too much, mixing Owens' story with skullduggery on the American Olympic Committee and the exploits of Nazi filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl, a daunting task that's beyond this competent but unremarkable film.
Vincent Lindon is one of the finest actors currently working in film, and he's on top form in 'The Measure of a Man', Stéphane Brizé's slow-moving, naturalistic drama. Thierry is a kind of modern-day Job, an ordinary man who lost his factory job and has since been subjected to the particular humiliations of middle-aged unemployment.
His son has special needs, and his schooling costs money, so Thierry is relieved when he lands a job as a hypermarket security guard.
But when he realises his job entails spying on his own colleagues, Thierry must decide how far he will allow his dignity and decency to be eroded.
Vincent Lindon is staggeringly good in the part, burying so deep into his demanding role that actor and character merge and become indistinguishable.
It's hard to know what to usefully say about 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows'. It's a sequel (to a 2014 revival of the 1980s cartoon franchise), it has turtles, and they are mutants.
In the first film, the four poetically named superheroes came to New York's rescue after it was attacked by a powerful enemy. This time, they do it again, neither more nor less memorably, in a film full of loud noises and flashy effects that is watchable, after a fashion.