Saint Maud (Cinemas, 15)
Verdict: startling and disturbing
Kajillionaire (Cinemas, 12A)
Verdict: could steal your heart
I Am Woman (Cinemas, 15 years old)
Verdict: tin-eared biopic
Religious fervor in the movies is quite a thing. We just saw Harry Melling as a murderous preacher with a messiah complex in the Netflix movie The Devil All the Time, and now he comes in the even more disturbing form of the lead character Morfydd Clark, in the unsettling Saint Maud.
Clark gets in shape playing young women with problems.
She was abandoned at the altar during last week’s release, Eternal Beauty, and died in childbirth in last year’s David Copperfield personal story, in which she also played wife Dora. desperate for David.
Morfydd Clark in the disturbing Saint Maud makes the main character both empathetic and terrifying
Saint Maud has all the suspense of a very high level psychological thriller that could burst into a full-fledged horror movie at any time
But they’ve all had easy journeys from the unstable Maud who, trying to put behind an unspecified scandal in her nursing career, turned to God, clinging to her newfound devotion as a patient. respiratory failure could catch on to an oxygen mask. .
It’s a truly fascinating performance. Clark makes Maud both empathetic and terrifying; if you met someone like her you would hug her or run a mile.
She lives in a UK seaside resort with high heels, again unspecified, where, as part of her rehab, she both changed her name and took a job as a caregiver with Amanda, a famous choreographer dying of debilitating disease (Jennifer Ehle, also gorgeous).
Cynical, bitter, angry with the world for good reason (she is not yet 50 years old), Amanda finds her pleasures where she can. She is a chain smoker and gets her sex kicks from a friend called Carol.
Deeply disapproving of such a shady lifestyle, Maud takes it upon herself to save Amanda’s soul. Amanda plays the game. She even develops an affection for her intense, tense and fanatically religious caregiver.
Gina Rodriguez, Richard Jenkins and Evan Rachel Wood are all stars of quirky Kajillionaire comedy (pictured)
In the meantime, we in the audience hear Maud’s prayers – “Forgive me for my impatience, but I hope you will soon reveal your plan to me.” But the Almighty? His God does not seem to restore his unconditional devotion to him.
Writer-director Rose Glass keeps this whole building eerie, with the suspense of a very high-level psychological thriller that could explode into a full-blown horror movie at any time.
This is her first feature film as a director, but she raises the tension with the mastery of a veteran.
So it would be wrong to call this show Clark, but she really does give an extremely powerful, multi-level performance as a woman who only desires to kiss angels, but cannot ignore her demons.
In one of the film’s most disturbing episodes, we get a glimpse – indeed, more than a glimpse – of Maud’s “ sinful ” past.
Then, in her bed decorated with crucifixes, she receives a visit from a former colleague who is a scene strained in the joints as I have seen in the cinema for some time.
With Saint Maud, Glass promises to be a filmmaker to watch, while Clark reinforces her reputation as a British actress of impressive versatility and prodigious talent.
Across the Atlantic, Evan Rachel Wood also ticks those boxes.
In Miranda July’s offbeat comedy Kajillionaire, she is terrific as the 26-year-old daughter of a couple of Los Angeles con artists Robert (Richard Jenkins) and Theresa (Debra Winger), who raised her, without much. of overt love and tenderness, to be a thief and a swindler as skillful as they are.
Even her unusual name, Old Dolio, is due to an attempted scam – her parents, still on the hunt for an unearned dollar, named her after an old man who won the lottery, in the hope he could include it in his will.
We meet this strange trio as they go about their daily business, literally keeping their heads down to avoid being seen by their owner, to whom they owe money.
He runs a factory that regularly spills excess pink moss in their home. They have to wipe it down to reduce their rent.
It is all precisely as strange as it sounds. July, whose credits include her acclaimed debut film Me And You And Everyone We Know (2005), doesn’t make conventional films.
But he’s got a certain zest, a certain charm even, and gains a much-needed boost when Gina Rodriguez steps into the fray as Melanie, a woman they meet during a lost baggage scam attempt on a flight. to New York.
I’ve loved movies about American crooks ever since my own parents took me when I was 11 to see The Sting.
Paper Moon, The Grifters, Catch Me If You Can, and American Hustle are other great examples, all a cut above Kajillionaire. Nonetheless, it might steal your heart.
The obvious tactic of titling a musical biopic after one of its subject’s most famous songs has paid off with Rocketman, Get On Up, and Walk The Line.
Alas, Helen Reddy is not as well served by I Am Woman, a lead and lumpy tale of how the Australian singer-songwriter arrived in New York City in the mid-60s as an unknown single mother. and in five years had become a star, and the softest voice of the Women’s Liberation Movement.
Reddy’s death at least last week makes the movie unexpected, but does nothing to make it more watchable. Australian actress Tilda Cobham Hervey plays Reddy pretty well, but that’s part of the problem – she’s way too healthy to be interesting from a distance.
In New York City, she is courted by producer Jeff Wald (Evan Peters), who, in one of the film’s most exciting scenes, has a late-night chess game with her. Then they get married and move to Los Angeles, where he undergoes this standard requirement of the biopic duff, the personality transplant.
After which everything starts to go wrong for Reddy, before everything starts to go well.
The British film that conquered Moscow
MOSCOW INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
The 42nd Moscow International Film Festival wrapped up last night with notable success for British director Rishi Pelham.
Her excellent feature debut Hilda, the only British nominee among the 13 films in the competition, won two of the festival’s five awards – Best Director for Pelham and Best Actress for newcomer Megan Purvis.
Megan Purvis (above) looks great in the title role of a teenage girl in a deeply dysfunctional London family seeking respite from the challenges of everyday life
Purvis is superb in the title role, as a teenager from a deeply dysfunctional London family seeking respite, especially in her love of dance, from the challenges of everyday life.
I had the privilege of being one of the five members of the Moscow jury, and I hope it reveals no secrets that my fellow judges – Kazakh producer Timur Bekmambetov, Russian actress Marina Aleksandrova, Egyptian director Mahmood Soliman and Romanian director Alexander Iordachescu – all felt the same about Purvis’s surprisingly mature performance.
Best film went to a heartbreaking Russian film about the wartime siege of Leningrad, A Siege Diary.
We awarded the Special Jury Prize to a powerfully dystopian Turkish film, In The Shadows, and the Best Actor award to Gur Bentwich, who also wrote and directed an ironic Israeli comedy about a neurotic director, Peaches & Cream.