Emily (15)


That’s Emily as in Bronte, so a great deal of the two hours, ten minutes is spent out on wild and windy moors.

Or in this case, wet and rainy; very wet and rainy. I know it's England; I know it's Yorkshire, but even so, nobody can leave the house in this film without the heavens opening. Usually accompanied by claps of thunder, if you please. This is the most onscreen precipitation since Blade Runner.

The literary biopic is one of cinema’s most misbegotten genres. Alan Bennett managed to write decent ones about Kafka and Proust, possibly because he addressed the absurdity of trying to make a film with a protagonist who’s at their most exciting sitting silently.

Still, the Bronte siblings, that strange coven of creativity and sickly constitutions who dreamed up these timeless gothic romances hidden away from the world in Haworth with their vicar father, ought to provide enough material for a decent film. Or maybe not, because actor turned writer/director O’Connor has decided just to make it all up. Here shy, socially awkward Emily Bronte enjoys the occasional opium pick-me-up and has a passionate affair with local curate Weightman (Jackson-Cohen.)

The film has many commendable aspects. It has a powerful sense of place and period; the score by Abel Korzeniowski is thrilling, and Mackey’s performance as a character called Emily Bronte is outstanding. Though I wonder why the cinematography had to be quite so drab and overcast; surely with all that rain, green should be the dominant colour? Which is the film’s main problem: it’s created a sexed-up fantasy Bronte world that is plodding and dull.

It’s the best part of four decades since I did Wuthering Heights for A Level, and went on a school field trip to Haworth. The image of the Brontes I retain from back then is of timid repressed sisters who from the most improbable of backgrounds managed to create something extraordinary. Clearly, Emily Bronte means a lot more to O’Connor than she does to me and if she wants to imagine a bodice-ripping Bronte world that's her right. But isn't the idea that Heathcliff and Cathy were inspired by real events a little reductive? In my Bronte fantasy, Wuthering Heights is a work of pure imagination and an extraordinary leap of perception; in O'Connor's, it's just disguised autobiography.

Directed by Frances O'Connor. Starring Emma Mackey, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Alexandra Dowling, Fionn Whitehead, Adrian Dunbar and Gemma Jones. In cinemas. Running time: 130 mins.

All Is Vanity (15)


It’s a cliché that working in the fashion industry is much less glamorous than it looks, but that view is taken to extremes in writer/ director/ producer Mereles’s debut. Four people, a photographer (Phoenix), an intern (Aroussi), a model (Bonfrer) and a makeup artist (Steel) gather in a rather dingy warehouse studio for a fashion shoot.

And maybe this is the reality, but this is a movie and surely the people, the location and the costumes should be just a bit more glitzy and appealing? Still, they aren’t and so we, the viewer, watch them bickering their way through a not overly compelling script until one of them mysteriously disappears.

All of which is just flannel on my part, because at some point, the film takes a turn from character piece in a single location into something different. More than that, I really can't say. Honestly, I'm not even sure this new direction really works, whether it is clever and bold or just smug and annoying, but it certainly made me sit bolt upright in my seat when it happened and the film has a cheeky light-hearted approach that should keep you on its side.

Directed Marcos Mereles. Starring Sid Phoenix, Yaseen Aroussi, Isabelle Bonfrer, Rosie Steel and Christopher Sherwood. Running time: 72 mins.

Lyle, Lyle Crocodile (PG)


Normally, I’d try to skip out on a Sunday morning screening of a singing crocodile movie, but as this one starred Javier Bardem, who seems to have replaced Alec Baldwin as The World’s Greatest Actor, I felt obliged to.

Bardem plays a desperate showbiz wannabe who discovers a baby singing crocodile. Lyle ends up adopted into the life of a New York family and here does does what all magical CGI characters do to a host family – provide a friend to the lonely awkward kid (Fegley) and loosen up the parents (Wu, McNairy) in this case by getting them to abandon their self-help books and healthy diet.

I rather enjoyed LLC. The CGI croc is sweet and the film has some nice, old-fashioned values. 1, Credible actors mucking in on kid's films: Bardem's entire preparation for this role seems to have been watching a few clips of Wagner on the X-Factor. 2, Musicals with new songs rather than old ones everybody already knows. 3, Kids being allowed to go out and play, take risks and eat (literally) junk. And good on it for daring to use the word Taiwan.

Directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck. Starring Javier Bardem, Constance Wu, Scoot McNairy, Winslow Fegley, Brett Gelman and Shawn Mendes. In cinemas. Running time: 106 mins.

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