Film Review

Everybody Knows

Tom’s Rating: 7⁄10; Lucy’s Rating: “Rating is hard without full knowledge of my previous scores.” Just a day after the slightly surreal experience of watching The Kindergarten Teacher, Asghar Farhadi’s Everybody Knows was a more straightforward affair. When a teenage girl is mysteriously taken hostage during a wedding reception, the girl’s family must work together to stump up the ransom and secure her return. Set in a small Spanish village where everybody suffers from family-induced claustrophobia, Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz (Lucy: “not as annoying as usual”) hold their own in this thoroughly enjoyable and well-paced whodunnit.

The Kindergarten Teacher

Tom’s Rating: 6⁄10; Lucy’s Rating: “0.5 higher than Widows”. The Kindergarten Teacher is a slow-burn introspection of a struggling woman’s unhealthy obsession with the poems of five-year-old Jimmy . Maggie Gyllenhaal portrays Lisa Spinelli’s descent into an increasingly problematic relationship with her student is an uncomfortable watch. But perhaps, at times, it was a little too arthouse, and a little too slow to move on in the plot. The film’s style was effective in making believable the rather unbelievable actions of Lisa - a mother of three nearly grown-up children, and a kindergarten teacher, who midway through the film happens to be plumbing her number into a five-year-old’s phone.

Mary Queen of Scots

Tom’s Rating: 4⁄10 – Lucy’s Rating: 5⁄10. It’s taken me a while to get round to writing this (short) review, in part because Mary Queen of Scots was a fairly underwhelming affair. I’ll admit I could have gone in knowing more about this era of British history. Even so, the film lacked coherence, jumped between events in unclear ways, and left me more than a little confused. With such a stellar cast, I had hoped for a lot more.

Stan & Ollie

Tom’s Rating: 7⁄10 – Lucy’s Rating: “Not for me, I need to revise.” Charting the latter years of two of the greatest comedians ever to grace the big screen, Stan & Ollie is a polished and surprisingly emotional film. Touring across sub-par venues in Britain, Steve Coogan (Stan) and John C. Reilly (Ollie) must deal with old wounds, the reality of their advancing age, and changing tastes in cinema. To get some minor gripes out the way first, the film’s aesthetic was too cutesy in places.

The Favourite

Tom’s Rating: 8⁄10 – Lucy’s Rating: 8⁄10 – Group Average 7.25⁄10. Kicking off 2019, a group of us went to see The Favourite - an often dark but always crude comedy centred around two ladies competing for the favour of Olivia Coleman’s Queen Anne. Over nine, well-composed acts, Rachel Weisz, as Lady Marlborough, and Abigail, a fallen from grace once-Lady now-servant played by Emma Stone, wage an increasingly violent battle against each other to become Queen Anne’s favourite.


Tom’s Rating: 5⁄10 – Lucy’s Rating: 5⁄10 (+1 for any film including Rachel Weisz). Disobedience is the tale of an orthodox Jewish community in London. When an influential Rav dies, his banished daughter must return for the funeral rites. Amid her grief, she once again falls in tumultuous love with the same woman who led to her original exile. A great plot! Unfortunately, despite its promise, Disobedience fell flat on its face.

The Grinch

Tom’s Rating: 7⁄10 – Lucy’s Rating: 10⁄10. Well, Lucy liked this one - a lot! It probably helped that we went to see it at midday, when the film did not have to compete with post-work fatigue. All in all, The Grinch was good fun, far less dark than the 2000 Jim Carrey version, and we definitely left craving green eggs and ham. Visually, 2018 Whoville is stunning! A multi-tiered, tobogganing paradise with cheery steampunk-esque shop fronts, triple-decker busses, and not a whiff of world-crisis in sight.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Tom’s Rating: 5⁄10 – Lucy’s Rating: Zzz/10. Fortunately for the Warner Bros., I went to see Widows first, so the bar had been set pretty low by the time I settled in to watch the second Fantastic Beasts. While the magic of the Potter universe never really washes off, this iteration was perhaps the least enjoyable of the now ten-strong fold of films. In many ways, this film felt like a (very, very) extended advert for Fantastic Beasts 3, with several narrative arcs extending well beyond the end of this sequel.


Tom’s Rating: 4⁄10 – Lucy’s Rating: 5⁄10. I had seen the trailer for Widows several times and, in all fairness, it looked decent. A modern take that saw the widows of criminals take up their dead husbands’ mantles. Not quite ingenious, but a new perspective on the heist drama nonetheless. Unfortunately, the film itself was poorly executed: the storyline was mundane, predictable, and overly long. Viola Davis plays the widow of a criminal gang’s chief.

A Star Is Born

Tom’s Rating: 9⁄10 – Lucy’s Rating: 8⁄10 (-1 for singing in the carpark). The natural comparison for A Star Is Born has to be the Queen biopic Lucy and I saw a fortnight ago. But while both are musical-inspired movies, they share very little else in common. Whereas Bohemian Rhapsody was a relatively light and witty drama, this film is a heavy-hitter with a simple but captivating story that leaves you reeling.