5 to See: This Weekend

This weekend ASFF selects five new feature films from Britain, America and France. Four of them tell true stories – some famous, some not – while the fifth is a Gallic drama of reconciliation. Among the themes explored: media intrusion, unlikely friendships, betrayal, remorse and resentment.

The Front Runner (Sony Pictures)

Hugh Jackman puts down his Wolverine claws and his Greatest Showman songbook to stretch his dramatic muscles, playing disgraced American senator Gary Hart in this intriguing bio from Jason Reitman (Juno, Tully). Set in 1988, with the American media on the cusp of 24/7 rolling news coverage, it follows what happens after the married Hart is rumoured to be having an affair – torpedoing his chance to be the Democrat’s presidential nominee. Fascinating.

The Upside (STX International)

The true story of a wealthy quadriplegic and his care assistant, Intouchables was a huge hit in its native France back in 2011. Now we get the inevitable American remake, The Upside, starring Kevin Hart as Dell, an ex-con from the projects who is gifted the chance to look after Bryan Cranston’s wheelchair-bound Phillip. Neil Burger (The Illusionist, Limitless) directs, while Nicole Kidman and Julianna Margulies co-star.

Stan & Ollie (E1 Entertainment)

One of Hollywood’s great black-and-white-era double acts, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, get the biopic treatment. Directed by Jon Baird (Filth), BAFTA nominee Steve Coogan plays Laurel and John C. Reilly is Hardy in a story that chiefly charts the pair’s 1953 tour of British theatres, with their stardom on the wane. Co-starring Shirley Henderson and Nina Arianda, as the duo’s wives, it’s a charming and affectionate tribute.

Colette (Lionsgate)

Set in the early 20th Century, Keira Knightley stars in this very on-point period drama about French author Colette, who spent years toiling away on her books while her publisher-husband Willy (Dominic West) took all the credit. Leeds-born Wash Westmoreland, who guided Julianne Moore to an Oscar in Still Alice, directs, from a script he wrote with his late partner/co-director Richard Glatzer. A ferocious and timely look at the battle of the sexes.

The House by the Sea (New Wave)

French auteur Robert Guédiguian is back with another thoughtful drama, starring his wife (and frequent collaborator) Ariana Ascaride as an actress who returns to the Mediterranean fishing village where she grew up – and where her daughter drowned – after her restaurateur father suffers a stroke. A poignant study of ageing and the eroding effects of time, among other things, the film also features supporting turns from Gérard Meylan and Jean-Pierre Darroussin.

James Mottram

All films released by 11 January.  

Credits:
1. Still from The House by the Sea.
2. Still from The Front Runner.
3. Still from Stan and Ollie.
4. Still from The Upside.
5. Still from Colette.
6.Still from
The House by the Sea.