Thursday 19 September 2019

The Cured movie review: 'Irish horror full of good ideas shot in north central Dublin'

Also reviewed: The Leisure Seeker, Let the Sunshine In, Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts

Celtic zombies: Ellen Page in The Cured
Celtic zombies: Ellen Page in The Cured
Paul Whitington

Paul Whitington

Paul Whitington reviews this week's big releases...

The Cured (16, 95mins) ***

What would an Irish zombie look like? Would they be chattier than the other undead and wink winningly before sinking their teeth into your throat? David Freyne’s The Cured confronts these burning questions as we witness a zombie outbreak in Dublin. Or rather, the aftermath of an outbreak, because Freyne’s film cleverly begins as the country is recovering from a crisis that turned half the population into bloodthirsty shufflers.

An antidote has cured some of these predators, but no one knows quite what to do with them. A compromise arrangement has allowed some of ‘the cured’ to return to normal life under supervision, but Conor (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor) is not satisfied and mounts a terror campaign. His friend Senan (Sam Keeley) is haunted by the part that he played in his brother’s death and can’t bring himself to tell his sister-in-law Abbie (Ellen Page).

Freyne’s film is full of good ideas shot in and around north central Dublin. It just about gets away with evoking a zombie plague on a small budget and Vaughan-Lawlor lends the movie a certain Shakespearean grandeur, playing a man whose thwarted sense of entitlement is toxic to all around him.

Read Chris Wasser's review: The Cured movie review: 'Boasts a killer socio-political set-up but end product is a dud'

The Leisure Seeker (15A, 112mins) ***

I didn’t believe a word of Paolo Vizri’s The Leisure Seeker, but it was oddly watchable. This, in large part, is due to the casting of Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren as John and Ella Spencer, an elderly couple with various ghastly health problems who decide to run away from their worries. Their escape vehicle is ridiculously romantic, a 1970s Winnebago which billows out ominous fumes but somehow manages to carry the couple south from Massachusetts to Key West in Florida, and the holy grail of the Hemingway house.

John is a retired English professor and bores unsuspecting diner waitresses to death with impromptu lectures on Hemingway’s merits — he has Alzheimer’s. Ella finds his condition tough to deal with, but has problems of her own, namely a terminal cancer.

It’s hard to sentimentalise something as nasty as Alzheimer’s, but The Leisure Seeker certainly gives it a try and only the wily acting of Mirren and Sutherland save this anodyne production from artistic oblivion.

Let the Sunshine In (15A, 95mins) ****

In her recent film work, Juliette Binoche has radiated a jaded but intense sensuality, and never more so than in Let the Sunshine In, Claire Denis’s wordy, intriguing drama inspired by the works of Roland Barthes. Binoche is Isabelle, a middle-aged artist whose otherwise free spirit is thwarted by a restless search for true love. Her deep need for connection is not satisfied by passionate trysts with an odious banker, a dithering actor and a working class disco dancer.

As befits a Barthes character, Isabelle ruins everything by talking: language constantly gets in the way of emotional intimacy, and her insistence on the existence of a pure love seems childish and naive. But her incessant railings against the imperfections of human relations are magnificent in their impotence.

Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts (No Cert, IFI, 93mins) ***

Finally, a word about Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts, a bizarre and stylised Indonesian film that’s part spaghetti western, part feminist revenge fantasy. On a lonely farm, a strong, silent woman called Marlina (Marsha Timothy) is mourning the passing of her husband when a man with a machete arrives.

This ugly hoodlum demands food, before calmly informing Marlina that he’ll shortly be joined by his gang, and that she will be raped. With nowhere to run, she hits on the bright idea of poisoning the chicken soup. I’m not sure quite what to think about this strange, deadpan, gory saga, which is gorgeously composed and photographed and also singularly unpleasant. But if it’s an accurate representation of the status of women in Indonesia, no wonder Mouly Surya’s film is so angry.

Also out this week: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society movie review:' 'Newell’s film is not without a certain retro charm

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