Edinburgh International Film Festival 2017 reviews Southside Advertiser -God's Own Country, Becoming Cary Grant, Daphne, R.A.I.D., A Night at The Cinema 1914, The Dark Mile, Where is Kyra, Attraction (Pritayjenie), The Beautiful Fantastic

EIFF 2017 REVIEWS Page 1

The Beautiful Fantastic

Attraction (Pritayjenie)

The Dark Mile

EIFF 2017 REVIEWS Page 2

Where is Kyra

A Night at the Cinema in 1914

R.A.I.D. Special Unit (Raid dingue)


Becoming Cary Grant

God's Own Country



Where is Kyra Review Sunday 25th July

Director Andrew Dosunmu
Michelle Pfeiffer, Kiefer Sutherland
Director of Photography: Bradford Young
Screenplay by: Andrew Dosunmu, Darci Picoult

Where is Kyra?…well the answer to this question gently unravels itself like a ball of twine with each new layer taking us further into a life unravelling before our eyes as a small error in paperwork leads Kyra to make choices and face consequences that a short time ago would have been unthinkable for her.

Kyra, a woman of a certain age living and caring for her elderly and infirm mother after the break up of her marriage and loss of her job, is carefully and sensitively portrayed here by Michelle Pfeiffer.  There is a real person that we as an audience can care about in Kyra in this wonderfully written story.  Yes, we know Kyra is making some bad choices here, but her options are extremely limited as events in her life unfold with a terrifying ease that can so easily happen to so many people when life throws you one bad card after another from the deck.

The only slight glimmer of hope in Kyra’s darkening life is when she meets local caretaker Doug (Kiefer Sutherland). Doug has enough problems of his own to deal with though as he tries to sort his own life out, and is equipped neither financially or emotionally to guide Kyra onto a better path and better choices despite his best efforts to do so.  A fine performance here too from Kiefer Sutherland.

This is the sort of film that, looking at the film choices available from many mainstream cinemas, you could be forgiven for thinking that the American film industry had forgotten how to make –tight script, great actors pulling you right into their world and wonderful photography that really understands how light and shade work.  It was a real pleasure to find that cinematic work of this quality is still being produced and that major stars like Michelle Pfeiffer and Kiefer Sutherland are still prepared to not only work on projects like this but bring them to life with performance skills that are sometimes glossed over on larger budget films.

Review by Tom King

A Night at the Cinema in 1914

Silent Cinema with Will Pickvance

Festival Theatre

Fri 23 June 7.30pm


R.A.I.D. Special Unit (Raid dingue) Review Thursday 22nd July

Director Dany Boon
Alice Pol (Johanna Pasquali ), Dany Boon (Eugène Froissard ) , Michel Blanc (Jacques Pasquali), Yvan Attal (Viktor), Sabine Azema  ( Marie-Caroline Dubarry), Patrick Mille (Edouard Dubarry), François Levantal (Patrick Legrand)
French language with English sub-titles

“R.A.I.D. Special Unit (Raid dingue)”  is a gentle comedy about policewoman Johanna Pasquali  (Alice Pol) and her ongoing ambition to be the first woman to join the French elite police force unit R.A.I.D (Recherche, Assistance, Intervention, Dissuasion).  Only the best of the best are selected for this unit, and chief training officer and unit misogynist Eugène Froissard (director Dany Boon) is determined to fail her.  Soon though this mismatched pair have to find a way to work together to deal with a dangerous terrorist gang.

“R.A.I.D.”  is a little bit like an early “Police Academy” film (does anyone remember when they were even vaguely funny), but here Dany Boon has a far lighter approach as a director and actor and while retaining an element of that slapstick humour, totally avoids moving into crudity for cheap laughs and gives us a stylish and light comedy that French films always seem to excel in.

Alice Pol plays the role here of Johanna Pasquali  beautifully with a very gentle comedic timing that is always difficult to get right, but without it, this film would just not work.  Her character is clumsy, accident prone, and totally inept here as a police officer.  Alice Pol also brings to gentle comedy life her personal relationship with fiancé  Edouard Dubarry played by Patrick Mille.

This film treads a fine line between comedy and realism, particularly with real-life terrorist incidents in France and across Europe, but sometimes you just have to laugh to stop yourself crying, and  Alice Pol and Dany Boon are the  well matched double act here to let you do just that.

The plot is obvious, and the end romantic resolution is obvious from very early on in the film, but who cares about that?...it’s the journey between the opening and closing credits that matters here.

Review by Tom King

Daphne review Wednesday 21st June

Director Peter Mackie Burns
Starring Emily Beecham  (Daphne), Geraldine James  (Rita), Tom Vaughan (Joe)
Screenplay by: Nico Mensinga
Produced by: Valentina Brazzini, Tristan Goligher

This is an impressive debut from director Peter Mackie Burns, and an equally impressive performance from Emily Beecham as Daphne.  Daphne is 31, working as a chef in a busy restaurant in London and finding the pressures of life and living in such a desensitising metropolis getting to her.  Emily Beecham captures a highly intelligent and free spirited young woman facing an existential crisis in her life beautifully, and as an audience we actually begin to care what happens to her character as her life continues to desensitise into a repetitive cycle of alcohol, drugs, and casual and meaningless sex.  Daphne has lost all sense of who she really is and stopped feeling anything for herself or those around her.  Witnessing a violent robbery in a late night convenience store and the stabbing of the shop worker slowly starts in an almost post traumatic stress like fashion to re-awaken Daphne as a feeling and fully functional human being again.

Geraldine James as Rita, Daphne’s mother, is believable in this role as a woman who is struggling not only to keep any form of relationship functioning with her often estranged daughter, but a woman also struggling with her own cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment.  Geraldine James brings a lovely gentle and sensitive touch to this role that counterbalances perfectly her daughter’s lack of emotional depth.

Holding Daphne together emotionally much of the time at her work is fellow chef Joe (played by Tom Vaughan) and the emotional relationship between the two of them is so right for this story line.

Daphne is a film that I like a lot.  This film concentrates on the emotional state that Daphne is in, and not on the physical element of her casual sex - yes that is there, but carefully scripted and filmed as not to be intrusive to the story and not used for simply the  graphic gratification of an audience.  A bit like the police always say at incidents “Nothing to see here…move on”.   More importantly though Daphne is a well scripted character brought to life by Emily Beecham, and when this film ends, there is that feeling of saying goodbye to a friend and wondering if they are going to be alright.

Review by Tom King

Becoming Cary Grant review Tuesday 20th June

Director Mark Kidel
Produced by: Christian Popp, Nick Ware
Music: The Insects, Adrian Utley
Screenplay by: Mark Kidel, Nick Ware

Becoming Cary Grant is a documentary that attempts to take a closer look at the real person behind one of Hollywood’s great screen icons – Cary Grant. Through a combination of extracts from an unpublished autobiography, personal home movies and of course his films, director Mark Kidel stylishly avoids the often dull and factual tones that many such documentaries fall  into and the result is an entertaining and enjoyable film that at the end still raises more questions than answers and never really explains “Who Was Cary Grant”.

There are many reasons for this major identity question remaining unsolved, and the answer will probably never be given as even Cary Grant himself could never fully answer this identity question himself. Cary Grant was born Archibald Alec Leach in Bristol on January 18, 1904 and died November 29, 1986. His legal identity may have been formally changed to Cary Grant when he took American citizenship in the 1940s, but all through his life the person that was Archibald Leach and the carefully constructed pseudo identity that was the public figure of Cary Grant always seemed at irreconcilable odds with one another.  The only road to even partially understanding his inner self came out of weekly 5 hour LSD fuelled Psychotherapy sessions…a still legal drug in the 1950s and then widely used by many psychologists to allow their patients to explore the outer body experiences needed to meet their inner self and sub conscious desires.

This documentary explores some of the personal identity elements that, despite his professional success, always seemed to leave Cary Grant unfulfilled and insecure as a person, notably his relationship with his mother and the women in his life.  Taking all of the source material available and viewing it almost as if we are on the therapy session couch with Cary Grant is an interesting approach here that raises the factual elements out of the historic mundane and brings to life the duality of the man that became Cary Grant the public persona, but who inside himself always had at least a part of another person that he never fully identified with – Archibald Alec Leach.

Cary Grant, despite his fame and prominence in Hollywood, was a private man who stayed away from much of the Hollywood glitz and rarely gave personal interviews.  One of the most famous men in the world was also one of the least known in the world, and perhaps that is the way things should stay.

Review by Tom King

God's Own Country review Monday 19th June

Director Francis Lee
Starring Josh O'Connor (Johnny Saxby), Alec Secareanu (Ghoerghe), Gemma Jones (Deidre Saxby) , Ian Hart (Martin Saxby)
Produced by: Manon Ardisson, Jack Tarling

Set in the Yorkshire Pennines, “God’s Own Country” is on one side of the coin a visual homage to the rugged beauty of the countryside, but on the other side an unsympathetic and brutal window on the harsh reality of a small family trying to make a living from a livestock farm.  Any town or city people (like myself) need to at least try and understand the harsh and hard lifestyle that this rugged terrain imposes on people and the never ending demands to feed, clean and care for the animals around them.  All of this is made more difficult in this story as Johnny’s father has had a stroke and is no longer able to do the physical work he once could do.

This is a story of the redemption of a lost soul through the love of another human being, and Josh O'Connor captures well the inner torment of Johnny Saxby as his life revolves around working on a farm he has come to hate and getting very very drunk at nights.  This of course leads to many personal issues with both his father and his grandmother - Gemma Jones (Deidre Saxby) – whom he lives with.  The road to redemption and true love comes in the unexpected form of a seasonal worker brought in for a week to help with lambing, Romanian worker Ghoerghe played by Alec Secareanu.

On paper, everything looks set here for a closer to home  “Brokeback Mountain”, but for me some things are just not working here…yes, the cast are very good in their roles and firmly ground us in the remoteness of the farm and the harshness of their world, but for a story that is to me about the inner soul  and inner feelings of our central characters Johnny and Ghoerghe, too much time is spent on screen graphically depicting their physical sexual relationship…the physical elements here are simply far less interesting than the emotional ones.  For me, the lost and very flawed character finding redemption and love in the most unlikely of places has as a story of Johnny Saxby  been told so many times, and it is difficult to find a new or interesting way to add to what has already  been done, and I am not sure this version adds anything new.  There is also the problem for me that Johnny is the least interesting of the four principal characters.  Alec Secareanu as Ghoerghe is for me the shining light in this story and his portrayal of a man who loves the land and farming but has been forced to leave not only his own family farm but his country is outstanding.  Ghoerghe is an interesting character that I want to find so much more out about, but I never get to find much out about him, or even why he has come the UK looking for work.

Gemma Jones (Deidre Saxby)  and Ian Hart (Martin Saxby) give us a believable mother and son relationship here, and their story is just as interesting as that of  Johnny and Ghoerghe, but again, it is never really explored in any depth.  Ian Hart as a man who loves his farm and the countryside but who is no longer physically able to do the work gives a very emotional performance here and you can feel that sense of loss in his eyes when he looks at you, as can you see too from Gemma Jones as she watches as a mother her son’s growing frailty.

Review by Tom King



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All reviews are copyright Entertainment Edinburgh / Southside Advertiser or the review writer and may not be used or reprinted in whole or in part in any medium whatsoever without the written permission of Entertainment Edinburgh / Southside Advertiser or the review writer.

We do however make exception for artists, companies and theatres involved in any review to use reviews (or part of) for their own promotion and publicity