Reviews: Jupiter Ascending, Amour Fou, Patrick's Day, Shaun the Sheep
Paul Whitington reviews this week's other big releases - Jupiter Ascending, Amour Fou, Patrick's Day, and Shaun the Sheep: The Movie
(3*, 12A, 127 mins)
Andy and Lana Wachowski's Jupiter Ascending was originally supposed to appear last July, but was withdrawn amid polite mutterings about 'minor reshoots'. Here, in any case, it finally is, and Mila Kunis stars as Jupiter Jones, a young Chicago woman who spends most of her waking hours cleaning other people's houses.
One fine day, she's attacked by vicious green aliens before a hulking stranger saves her. Caine (Channing Tatum) explains that Jupiter is the reincarnated queen of an interplanetary dynasty, and that only she can save mankind from being destroyed by an imminent 'harvest'. Or something.
The finer plot details of this film cannot be approached without laughter: it's a pretentious, grandiose mess, packed with tiresome special effects that at least distract from the dreadful dialogue.
(4*, No Cert, IFI, 96mins)
Austrian auteur Jessica Hausner's 2009 drama Lourdes was a fantastic film, and Amour Fou is a glum but beautifully made period drama based on the life of German poet Heinrich von Kleist. It's 1811, and von Kleist (Christian Friedel) is moping around the drawing rooms of Berlin when he meets Henriette Vogel (Birte Schnoink).
She is married to the unerringly decent Friedrich (Stephan Grossmann), but seems oddly lonely. Von Kleist begins courting Henriette, and eventually reveals that he wants her to die with him in a suicide pact. She dismisses the idea, but when she finds out she may have a terminal illness, begins to give von Kleist's plan serious thought. What she doesn't know is that he's already asked at least one other woman to perform a similar service, and may be some kind of sociopath.
Ms. Hausner's film proceeds at a stately, measured pace, and uses classical compositions and stiff exchanges to underline the tedium of early 19th-century bourgeois life. Henriette's true feelings remain tantalisingly opaque, but Christian Friedel's von Kleist is a total drip, a nasty, self-pitying monomaniac.
(4*, 15A, 102mins)
When I tell you that Patrick's Day is a big improvement on Terry McMahon's last film, I should qualify that statement by adding that Charlie Casanova was one of the most inept and obnoxious productions it has ever been my misfortune to endure. Credit where credit's due, however, because Patrick's Day is far more accomplished visually, has a story to tell, and does so reasonably well.
Patrick Fitzgerald (the excellent Moe Dunford) is a 26-year-old man with a serious mental illness who lives in care but is regularly visited by his loving mother, Maura (Kerry Fox). He seems happy with his lot, but his fragile equilibrium is toppled by a chance encounter on his birthday, St. Patrick's Day. He's in the city with his mother when they become separated, and he runs into an unstable woman called Karen (Catherine Walker).
She's suicidal, but is charmed by his innocence, and they have sex. Patrick falls hopelessly in love, and when his mother finds out, her determination to protect him will have devastating consequences. Patrick's Day has Hitchcock-ian overtones, especially when Patrick's mother tries to persuade him that Karen was a figment of his imagination. And while not everything in it holds together, Walker and Fox are very good as the warring women.
Shaun the Sheep: The Movie
(3*, G, 85mins)
Created by Nick Park 20 years ago as a foil for Wallace and Gromit, Shaun the Sheep got his own spin-off TV series and now comes this feature-length movie. And very engaging it is too. Shaun is brighter than the rest of his herd put together, and when their affable but short-sighted farmer gets whisked off to the city by accident, Shaun leads a determined expedition to save him. It's typical Aardman stuff, playful, inventive and funny.
50 Shades of Grey (Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan); Love is Strange (John Lithgow, Alfred Molina); Pelo Malo (Beto Benites); The Wedding Ringer (Kevin Hart).