MY POLICEMAN (2022)

October 21, 2022

Greetings again from the darkness. This is one of those prestige movies that simply isn’t as important as it portends to be. That doesn’t mean it’s unwatchable, only that it lacks the emotional weight and depth to which it strives. Director Michael Grandage (GENIUS, 2016) is working from a script that Ron Nyswaner (PHILADELPHIA, 1993) adapted from the 2012 book by Bethan Roberts … itself inspired by the true story of writer EM Forster.

The film employs a familiar structure, alternating between the 1950s and 1990s, utilizing two sets of actors playing three main characters. Pop star Harry Styles and his handsome face and lush head of hair plays young police officer Tom, who one day at the beach is introduced to the lovely and educated Marion (Emma Corrin, Lady Di in “The Crown”). The two begin spending a good deal of time together with Tom being the perfect ‘gentleman’, even after an extended courtship. He introduces art-loving Marion to his friend Patrick (David Dawson, ALL THE OLD KNIVES, 2022), a museum curator who has many common interests with Marion … including that of Tom.

The decades-later episodes find Marion (Gina McKee, IN THE LOOP, 2009) inviting stroke victim Patrick (Rupert Everett) to convalesce at the seaside village home she shares with long-time husband Tom (Linus Roche, BATMAN BEGINS, 2005). What we learn is that Marion has done so out of guilt and Tom is not happy with her for doing so, and completely avoids his long-ago friend by taking an inordinate number of walks with his dog along the shoreline. If the two time periods aren’t enough for us to understand these relationships, older Marion begins reading Patrick’s diaries from those past years and learns the details of what she suspected all along. This cruel invasion of privacy goes far beyond the doubts her younger self had when she saw the portrait of Tom that Patrick drew, or the time Patrick hired Tom as an assistant on art excursion to Venice.

The film opens with Dean Martin crooning his classic, “Memories are Made of This”, and while it may be an obvious precursor to what we are to watch, it’s always a pleasure to hear Dean on a modern sound system. The three characters navigate (quite poorly actually) a messy taboo triangle of love, passion, and deceit, making for a mostly sad story from all angles. It may stress the 1950’s attitudes toward sexual preferences, but mostly it shows how the past is always present … always hovering, even over once-close friendships and loves.

The film opens in select theaters on October 21 and on Prime Video on November 4, 2022

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SHE WILL (2022)

July 14, 2022

Greetings again from the darkness. Coming from the IFC Midnight stable, this first feature film from writer-director Charlotte Colbert and co-writer Kitty Percy, may be judged as a thriller or horror, depending on one’s perspective. By creating an ominous atmosphere, the movie highlights how certain events can grab hold and remain with us, often buried deeply, for our entire life. We don’t always know how these memories will manifest or how or when we deal with them, but if the scars remain, a reckoning likely follows.

Alice Krige is perfectly cast as Veronica, an aging movie star. She’s coming off a double mastectomy and is expressing more than a touch of grumpiness towards her much younger nurse Desi, played well by relative newcomer Kota Eberhardt. Veronica has booked an extended stay for rehabilitation at an isolated countryside manor, and though she and Desi have a private cabin on the grounds, Veronica is quite miffed that there are other guests in the main house … with odd therapy sessions led by Tirador (played by an almost unrecognizable Rupert Everett).

Almost immediately, strange things begin to occur and much of it is related to the earth and ground. The mud seems to have supernatural effects on Veronica’s visions and dreams. This is explained as healing power due to the heavy presence of ashes from witches burned at the stake many years prior. The memories of a traumatic event return to Veronica. She was a child actor in a film by the legendary Hathbourne (the always great Malcolm McDowell), and now he is re-casting for a remake of that film. So as Veronica faces her perceived loss of femininity at the edge of scalpel, she’s also dealing with fears of aging as the same filmmaker recreates a project she is now too old for.

Symbolism is entrenched in the film, and the approach to Veronica’s revenge on Hathbourne is handled through mysticism that can’t easily be explained … though it’s a welcome new approach to the #metoo movement. One of my favorite aspects of the film is how the initial gulf between Veronica and Desi gradually changes as the two generations of women bond over their strength. Italian ‘Master of Horror’ Dario Argento is a producer on the film, and though we don’t know what input he had, it’s quite a compliment to Ms. Colbert to state her debut film deserves to be mentioned alongside his.

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