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, The Midwife

EIFF 2017 REVIEWS Page 1

The Midwife

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



The Midwife Review Wednesday 28th June

Director Martin Provost
Cast Catherine Deneuve (Beatrice), Catherine Frot (Claire), Olivier Gourmet (Paul), Quentin Dolmaire (Simon), Mylène Demongeot (Rolande)
Screenplay by: Martin Provost
Music: Grégoire Hetzel

Dealing with a world that is changing the profession that you love and your job as a midwife changing fast too, Claire (Catherine Frot) makes a stance and refuses to join the new large hospital  team that is more focused on technology and profits than her values of humane caring for her patients.  Her moral stance comes at a price though as the local unit that she works in is being closed down and with it her job.  Claire also has personal domestic issues to deal with, with her son Simon (Quentin Dolmaire) and her own unexpected and blossoming romance with Paul  (Olivier Gourmet). At a time when  Claire can do without more complications in her life, Beatrice (Catherine Deneuve) the former mistress of her father whom she has not heard from in over 30 years, makes contact with her.

What would you do if someone from your past who had hurt you badly and changed your life forever and was the complete opposite of everything that you are re-appeared without warning and in great need of help, friendship and love?  Would you, could you, meet those needs or would you walk away?  These are choices that Claire must make and old memories and personal wounds are re-opened and re-examined from different perspectives as this touching story between too very strong but very different women unfold.

Catherine Deneuve and Catherine Frot are both superb here, and their characters wonderfully contrast against each other.  More importantly though, both can project inner emotion and feelings with the smallest of body movements and expressions.  The script here is a well crafted story, but so much of the depth of this drama is unsaid between Beatrice and Claire and these two great screen performers breathe real life into their respective roles.

Olivier Gourmet (Paul) and Quentin Dolmaire (Simon) give solid foundations to the situation that both women reluctantly find themselves in, but this is always the story of  Beatrice and Claire, and Olivier and Quentin understand that in their performances.

The Midwife at its core is a story of two women who come to an uneasy partial acceptance of one another, but at the same time it is also the story of a woman who refuses to become part of a corporate machine that dehumanises her as a person and a professional by placing technology and profits above simple humanity.

Nice to see Mylène Demongeot (Rolande) on screen for a short while too.

Review by Tom King

The Beautiful Fantastic Review Tuesday 27th July

Director Simon Aboud         
Jessica Brown Findlay (Bella Brown), Jeremy Irvine (Billy), Andrew Scott (Vernon), Tom Wilkinson (Alfie Stephenson)
Screenplay by: Simon Aboud

An infant abandoned in a basket beside a local duck pond is discovered by an elderly swimmer after taking his very cold morning exercise.  The infant has been saved from the cold only by the fact that some ducks have settled on top of her and kept her warm.  Taken into care and raised and schooled by nuns, the infant grows into the rather curious child known as Bella Brown.  Bella grows up to be a more curious adult – a reclusive, agoraphobic with more than a little touch of OCD and a fear of fauna.  Bella is also very quirky, highly intelligent and dreams of becoming a writer of children’s books.

When her landlord demands she sort her overgrown neglected garden within a month or be evicted, she has to deal with not only her fear of the outdoors but her grumpy widower of a neighbour Alfie Stephenson (Tom Wilkinson) and his very poorly treated helper and cook Vernon (Andrew Scott).  While all of this is happening, unexpected romance for Bella with quirky inventor Billy (Jeremy Irvine) develops in, of all unusual places, the local library where she works.

With all our central cast now in place, this gentle romantic comedy starts to unfold and through the discovery of the joys of flora, fauna and gardening new self discoveries and friendships are made and even the coldest of hearts are softened  once again.

The Beautiful Fantastic is simply a pleasure to watch and has that elusive and always slightly off centre French feel to its story and performances.  There is a gentle softness to this film and a sense of being taken on a magical journey, and a huge part of that wonder is down to wonderful performances from Jessica Brown Findlay (Bella Brown) and Tom Wilkinson (Alfie Stephenson), and it is the changing relationship between both that is so much the driving force and beauty of this story.  Jeremy Irvine (Billy) and Andrew Scott (Vernon) are of course the much needed final pieces of this beautifully put together jig-saw, and help bring out in Bella and Alfie the best in both of their characters.

The Beautiful Fantastic is simply a wonderful  story beautifully photographed and brought to life by a cast of talented actors, and Jessica Brown Findlay breathes real life into the quirky Bella Brown.

Review by Tom King

Attraction (Pritayjenie) Review Monday 26th June

Director  Fedor Bondarchuk
Irina Starshenbaum (Yulya Lebedeva)  Alexander Petrov (Artyom), Rinal Mukhametov (Hijken), Oleg Menshikov (Colonel Lebedeva)   Director of Photography: Mikhail Khasaya
Screenplay by: Oleg Malovichko, Andrey Zolotarev

Russian language with English sub-titles

Attraction is a big budget science fiction movie with some impressive opening scenes as the meteorite storm damaged spacecraft of unknown origin in close proximity to Earth is forced into our atmosphere above Russian air space and shot down.  This unwarranted attack causes unexpected consequences as the massive craft crashes into many Moscow high rise tower blocks in its descent resulting in the loss of hundreds of innocent lives.  The crash scenes and the opening first contact  scenes alone are worth seeing this film for. It’s easy to see why this film has already been a massive hit in its home territories.

There are stories within stories running here that all converge in unexpected twists, but at its heart this is a story between Moscow Military Chief Colonel Lebedeva (Oleg Menshikov) and his teenage daughter  Yulya Lebedeva (Irina Starshenbaum), at best always a strained relationship, and her developing emotional relationship with an alien from the crashed ship – Hijken (Rinal Mukhametov).

Yula’s older boyfriend Artyom (Alexander Petrov) takes a pivotal role in events of this film, but there are times in the middle section of this story where we are almost falling into another story line as the grim reality of life in the sprawling high rise building of Moscow suburbs take a more prominent place. Also at times we step a little into the stretching of the imagination realms as Yulya, Artyom and their friends seem to be able to gain unrestricted access into tightly patrolled areas around the crashed ship, or when Yulya gets the alien Hijken access to very restricted areas to reclaim lost technology from his ship.

To be honest though, these little stretches of the imagination don’t really matter as this film is above all entertaining and fun to sit back and watch for a few hours.  This film has been compared to being a blend of Starman and Independence Day, and although that is partly true, it also owes a big homage to the original classic “The Day The Earth Stood Still” (still one of the best sci-fi films ever made).Â

The big, and interesting contrast between this film and many big budget Hollywood Sci-Fi films of recent years is that this is not a shoot at everything that moves movie…the Moscow military do not take direct confrontation with the alien ship as an option, and perhaps that tells us a little bit more about earthbound ideologies than we want to admit, and also emphasise exactly the message that Hijken and his ship bring to Earth.

Review by Tom King

The Dark Mile Review Monday 26th June

Director Gary Love
Cast Rebecca Calder, Deirdre Mullins, Finlay Macmillan with Paul Brannigan, Sheila Hancock 
Director of Photography: John Pardue
Music Jim Williams

The Dark Mile is a psychological thriller from a production team who seem to instinctively understand what horror and terror are - the subtle and often innocent looking people and things around us that can swiftly change into the very dangerous without us really noticing what is happening immediately.  As an audience, what we think will happen next is often more terrible than what does happen and this film utilises that effect to maximum advantage.  Of course, sometimes what we think might be the worst thing to happen is not even close to what does happen.

In this tense and ever growing darker story, London couple Louise and Clare (Rebecca Calder and Deirdre Mullins) book a sailing trip in the Highlands to recover from a personal tragedy, but amidst the beautifully photographed scenery of the Scottish highlands and the claustrophobic environment of a river boat, our city lovers encounter a closed to newcomers local population, a black and menacing river barge and ancient Celtic fertility god Cernunnos.

Rebecca Calder and Deirdre Mullins are outstanding here in their respective roles and Sheila Hancock plays her changing role with obvious pleasure here.

This film is a little bit like two films in one though, as it works best when confined to meetings with the locals, the waterways and those closed in boat spaces with no escape possible if the worst happens.   Once we venture into the woods with their own terrors, a little of the originality and tension  of this story is lost for me though.

I’m giving nothing away here when I say to watch everything here from the first scene onwards as throw away elements come back to play major roles in this plot.  Keep watching the screen too as those phone texts are really important.

There are more than a few unexplained events here as we are left wondering “what happened there”, and part of me really liked that, but on the other hand, it does give this film a bit of an unfinished story and left me wondering if the next instalment was coming along soon.

There is also a wonderful score to this film by Jim Williams which sadly the sound system in the cinema did little justice to.

The Dark Mile is one film to catch if you get the time, and like all the very best of its genre takes its audience on a journey into the world of the story along with the characters.

Review by Tom King






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