Greetings again from the darkness. Imagine if Liam Neeson’s character in TAKEN had also been a skilled trauma surgeon … and a woman. If so, the result would be similar to the main character here, Michelle, played by Leah Gibson. Michelle is that rare former military doctor with special ops skills. She’s also a mother to a young son, and experiences a traumatic event in the opening scene in this film from director Tony Dean Smith and writer Alex Wright.
Michelle (Ms. Gibson) returns to civilian life as a single mother and secures a job as a surgeon at a small suburban hospital where a former military affiliate is Chief of Surgery. She’s making the best of her new life, and has secured the night off work to take her son to a big soccer match for his birthday. Before they can leave the hospital, a gunshot victim arrives – one needing Michelle’s special skills. Of course, we have seen what she hasn’t … the gun shot victim is part of the local Irish mob known as the Quinn Brotherhood, and though his wounds occurred during a crime, there is a twist.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays Sean Quinn, the hot-headed son of Patrick Quinn (Oscar winner Jon Voight). The two butt heads as the elderly Patrick looks for a negotiated agreement under duress, while the young Sean thinks everything can be solved with intimidation and violence. Not helping matters is a rookie FBI agent who has the youngest Quinn son (the above-mentioned gunshot victim) in custody.
There is plenty of noise, gunfire, and tough-talking throughout the film, but we never believe that Michelle is in much danger – thanks to her ‘very particular set of skills.’ Although she has acted regularly for the past 15 years, we wouldn’t call Leah Gibson a familiar face. She is, however, up to the challenges of this physically demanding role. Even Jonathan Rhys Meyers is all in as the psychopath gangster, and despite his turn in “The Tudors”, he has never reached the level of stardom I predicted after MATCH POINT (2005).
Jon Voight is now 85 years old, and his storied career includes key roles in MIDNIGHT COWBOY (1969), DELIVERANCE (1972), COMING HOME (1978), MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE (1996), and a career renaissance with “Ray Donovan” … the role most similar to his character in this movie. Outside of Mr. Voight, the film has a distinct B-movie look and feel, although the clown in the hospital was a nice touch and almost made up for the lame ‘salutes’ we are subjected to.
in select theatres on May 12, 2023, and on demand on June 2, 2023.
Greetings again from the darkness. The late 1970’s in London were filled with political, social and labor discontent. Director Derrick Borte (The Joneses, 2009) and writer Matt Brown (The Man Who Knew Infinity, 2015) use this backdrop, along with some cutting edge music of the era, to tell a coming-of-age story that is enjoyable despite its predictability.
Daniel Huttlestone (Into the Woods) plays 15 year old Shay (not Che) who carries the burden of babysitting for his sister Alice (Anya McKenna-Bruce) and cooking for his two-job dad Nick (Dougray Scott), as he dreams of meeting up with his free-spirited mom Sandrine (Natascha McElhone) who lives a bohemian lifestyle in London. Things start to change for Shay once he receives a package from his mom … his first taste of music from The Clash.
Soon enough, Shay finds himself chatting it up on a commuter train with wild girl Vivian (Nell Williams), who generously shares her own music from The Clash, as well as some insight into the band, and even a ticket to their next concert. After the best night of Shay’s life, a work accident puts his dad in the hospital, requiring the son to take on even more responsibility.
More than a coming of age story, this is what I call “the teenage awakening”. Once the world starts opening up to Shay, he begins to question everything. A serendipitous night in the clink with Joe Strummer (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) brings some surprisingly grounded philosophy and guidance. “Some people just burn bright” is a spot-on description of Shay’s mom and a lesson to Shay that parents are people too.
The movie belongs to Huttlestone, who bounces between responsible young man, bullied teen, and anti-establishment rebel. Ms. Williams is delightful in her role, and JRM brings the necessary hard edge to Strummer. Director Borte has a really nice eye for scenes, but probably was a bit too stingy with Clash tunes. The timing for the film is a bit unfortunate, as it’s released in the same year as the similar but superior Sing Street. Still it’s an enjoyable little film with enough philosophy sprinkled in that we don’t even mind the predictable ending with “I Fought the Law” carrying us to closing credits.
Greetings again from the darkness. We are accustomed to movies with men posing as women for comedic effect … Mrs. Doubtfire and Tootsie come to mind. Watching an extremely serious, even bleak, film with a woman (Glenn Close) posing as a man is quite rare, and I will say, downright uncomfortable. When Albert Nobbs is described by his co-workers as a strange little man, they have no idea!
The film is based on a novella by George Moore, and has been a pet project of Glenn Close since she starred in the off-Broadway play in the 1980’s. Her dream has been realized in this film directed by Rodrigo Garcia. The film has an extremely talented cast including Brendan Gleeson as a doctor, Bronagh Gallagher as Mrs Page, Mia Wasikowska, Aaron Johnson and Brenda Fricker as hotel staff, Pauline Collins as the hotel proprietor, and Jonathan Rhys Meyers as a frequent hotel guest. The song over the closing credits (co-written by Ms. Close) is sung by Sinead O’Connor.
Beyond that fabulous cast, the only thing that really makes the film worth watching is the curious performance of Ms. Close as Albert Nobbs and the much more colorful and lively turn by Janet McTeer as Mr. Page … the only one (we know of) who can understand what Albert is going through. Both are nominated for Oscars. During the film, we get the personal story from each of these characters on why they made their choice, but Albert’s story is a bit muddled. He/she seems to have just fallen into the life and been unable to stop for the past 30 years. Now, Albert has a dream that can only be achieved through the wages earned as the non-descript, efficient waiter in an 1890’s Dublin hotel.
There are many painful scenes to watch, but none moreso than Albert courting Helen so that he can have a partner for his new business. He has no idea how a real relationship works or why people are attracted to each other. Albert just sees Helen as a means to an end, and is following the blueprint set by Mr. Page. Some will enjoy this much more than I, as the thought of pretending to be someone you aren’t for 3 decades is just more than I can even comprehend. When Gleeson’s doctor spouts that he has no reason why people choose to lead such miserable lives, I concur whole-heartedly.
SEE THIS MOVIE IF: you want to see how little joy would be had spending one’s life pretending to be someone else OR you don’t want to miss two Oscar-caliber performances (Close, McTeer)
SKIP THIS MOVIE IF: misery in 1890’s Dublin holds no more interest for you than misery in any other era or locale